Top 15 Coaches in NCAA Football
15). Tom Herman, Houston
The 40-year-old Herman has already earned a healthy raise, now making close to $3 million, but that’s probably not going to keep him at his current job for long. Not if he puts together another year like the first one. An innovative offensive coach who I believe in 5 years could be a top 5 coach. The big question is how long will he be willing to stay at Houston? My guess is not long.
14). Ken Niumatalolo, Navy
Niumatalolo has been Navy’s head coach since the end of the 2007 season, when he took over for Paul Johnson for the Poinsettia Bowl. He’s taken the Midshipmen to bowl games in six of his seven full seasons, including the last three, and in 2015 helped navigate them through their first year of conference affiliation after being an independent program since the 1800s.
Unlike Herman I don’t think this coach is going anywhere, the BYU job was his for the taking and he stayed at Navy. Army better get it together quickly if the ever want to beat Navy again.
13). Kyle Whittingham, Utah
Followed a legend in Urban Meyer and has kept the program running smoothly. They are now in a position where they are in contention for Pac 12 titles the last couple of years and look set to be a contender into the future.
12). Jim Harbaugh, Michigan
Harbaugh had already proved he could turn around a college program during his four years at Stanford. The hope was he could eventually do the same at Michigan, his alma mater, once he’d gotten reacclimated to the college game after a stint in the NFL. He turned Michigan around even quicker than Wolverine fans had hoped. He will be competing in the top 5 of this list very shortly.
11). Bill Snyder, Kansas State
Snyder is one of the greatest coaches in the history of college football, and at 75 he still ranks very highly. He took over a woeful program in 1989, going 1-10 that season, and that was one of only five losing records he’s had with the Wildcats.
The last was this past season, when K-State went 6-7 after losing to Arkansas in the Liberty Bowl. But that came after it won its final three games to earn a 17th bowl bid under Snyder.
10). Brian Kelly, Notre Dame
Though he hasn’t won a national title, he did make the BCS title game in 2012. And unlike some of his predecessors, he hasn’t followed early success with a major backslide. Under Kelly’s leadership the program looks to be a contender into the foreseeable future.
9). Les Miles, LSU
139 wins and 59 losses will tell you what kind of coach is. The fact that LSU almost fired him will tell you all you need to know about LSU. If fired after this year, he will have another job almost immediately.
8). Bob Stoops, Oklahoma
In his 17 seasons at Oklahoma, Bob Stoops has won one national title, seven Big 12 championships and almost 80 percent of his games in the conference. He is very good at reinventing himself, just when you think he might need to leave Oklahoma for a change of scenery.
7). David Shaw, Stanford
The 43-year-old Shaw was elevated to head coach at Stanford in 2011 after Harbaugh went to the NFL, and since then he’s exponentially improved on the job that Harbaugh did. Four of his five seasons have resulted in trips to BCS/New Year’s Six bowl games, including three Rose Bowls, winning two of them (including this season). NFL teams drool over the prospect of getting there hands on David Shaw.
6). Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
While Michigan was firing or forcing out coaches—three since 2007—Dantonio has been building a foundation in East Lansing that culminated in a trip to the semifinals this season. The 38-0 loss to Alabama in the Cotton Bowl was a humbling experience for the 59-year-old Dantonio and MSU, but also something he figures to use as mortar for the next floor of the Spartans’ fortress.
5). Jimbo Fisher, Florida State
Most coaches fail miserably when trying to replace a legend, Fisher has thrived. He runs an offense that closely resembles an NFL offense which helps his players advance to the next level.The 50-year-old has won at least nine games every season, winning four ACC titles and a national championship while putting together a school-record 29-game win streak from 2012-14.
4). Dabo Swinney, Clemson
Swinney has led the Tigers to five consecutive seasons of at least 10 wins, the best such run in school history, and nearly won his first national title on Monday. The 45-40 loss to Alabama ended a 17-game win streak, during which Clemson supplanted Florida State as the team to beat in the ACC. More important than coaching in college football is recruiting and Swinney is one of the best in the country at recruiting.
3). Gary Patterson, TCU
Has turned TCU into a perennial contender for the National Championship, hasn’t gotten them there yet, but don’t bet against him. TCU had been tossed aside when the Southwest Conference dissolved in 1995, but under Patterson it’s risen through the ranks of C-USA to the Mountain West and since 2012 the Big 12. And he’s won or shared a conference title in every stop, claiming a Rose Bowl championship after the 2010 season and winning the Peach Bowl in 2014.
2). Urban Meyer, Ohio State
Turned around Bowling Green and Utah, Dominated at Florida and now he is dominating again at Ohio.St. One of the greatest offensive minds in all of football. Meyer has won three national titles, including two at Florida, and has never had a losing record in 14 seasons as a head coach. The fatigue he cited when leaving Florida after the 2010 season hasn’t resurfaced, making the 51-year-old as energized as ever.
1). Nick Saban, Alabama
Why is Saban number 1? How about these stats, five national championships, four in the last seven years with Alabama, only one off the record.
There’s not much left for Saban to accomplish at 64, other than to tie (and eventually pass) Bear Bryant’s mark of six national titles. If that happens, it will be at Alabama and not some other school, and at this point you can forget about another dip into the pros.