Ten Best and Five Worst Coaches in College Football

By Chris Lauderback on July 8, 2013 at 1:24p

The onslaught of lists that accompany every college football offseason remains in high gear. With that, Stewart Mandel gives us his top 10 and bottom five coaches in college football today.

The top 10 includes a top two that you would easily guess yourself. The full run-down:

1. Nick Saban - Alabama

2. Urban Meyer - Ohio State

3. Chris Petersen - Boise State

4. Gary Patterson - TCU

5. Bill Snyder - Kansas State

6. Les Miles - LSU

7. Kevin Sumlin - Texas A&M

8. Bob Stoops - Oklahoma

9. Bobby Petrino - Western Kentucky

10. Art Briles - Baylor

What's your take on this list? My thought is Bob Stoops is too high and Charlie Strong should be on the list somewhere between 7-10.

The bottom five is presented in alphabetical order and features two B1G coaches:

  • Tim Beckman - Illinois
  • Ron English - Eastern Michigan
  • Kirk Ferentz - Iowa
  • Lane Kiffin - USC
  • Charlie Weis - Kansas

This list of jokers looks fairly spot-on to me if worst equates to either overrated/overpriced. Who's missing? Here's an awesome nugget on Captain Kirk:

The 2009 Orange Bowl proved an aberration in Ferentz's otherwise unimpressive recent tenure. Take away that one 11-2 season and the Hawkeyes are 47-41 since 2005 under their $3.6 million-per-year coach. 



Comments Show All Comments

Fugelere's picture

IMO mostly accurate.  However I think the decision to list the worst coaches in alphabetical order instead of having to rank one of them as the worst college coach seems like a bit of a cop out.  I mean who would really argue with Kiffin taking that spot? 

DLB1276's picture

I think we need to see a larger sample from Charlie Strong to say he's a top 10 coach. Sure, the win against Florida was impressive, but they lost to Syracuse and UConn, and had to scrape by against Southern Miss (even though that was a ridiculous game conditions wise).

AJW_16's picture

I thought the same thing.

"Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you." 

Michibuck's picture

Looks good to me, except for absence of Charlie Strong.

jeremytwoface's picture

You stole it from me :(
I'll say what I said on the other thread...
I think Strong needs a tad more on his resume to be considered. I think Stoops is a tad high as well. He hasn't had much recent success.
I'm not too sure about Art Briles. He's had some upsets and is doing better than Baylor usually does, but top 10 coach?
I think Tim Beckman is a bit of a "jump the gun" situation. He's only had one season under his belt.

And when we win the game, we'll buy a keg of boooooooooze!! And we'll drink to old Ohio 'till we wobble in our shoes.

TheShookster's picture

Hopefully for selfish reasons its later rather than sooner, but Tom Herman will be on this list one day. As for now everything looks good. Charlie Weis could be the entire bottom 5 though

He ain't even stretch doe!!

cplunk's picture

How strange is it that Urb's two undefeated seasons are not his two championship seasons.

iball's picture

Keep this comment in mind when Urbz finally loses a game and every nut job in Cbus is calling for his head.

“There’s one thing I have learned through all my adventures and conquests - it’s that some people are just wired for success. I had no choice when it came to being great - I just am great.” – Kenny Powers

You can't spell chump without UM's picture

I'd put Bill Snyder in the top 3 and I wouldn't put Les Miles in the top 10, he can get all these great players and yet somehow find a way to lose.

Brady Hoke ate my comment

btalbert25's picture

Bill Snyder is a great coach, could you imagine what he could do with some elite talent?  LSU does win inspite of Les Miles.  The guy is horrible at time management and has way too much riverboat gambler in him.  He gives a lot of games a way or makes games that should be blowouts much harder than they need to be. 

GABuckeye's picture

It doesn't give me any heartburn, but I'd like to see one or two more years out of Kevin Sumlin before I call him the 7th best coach in college football.  He did a lot of good things at Houston offensively, but his defenses were terrible.  He had a great year last year at A&M, but we'll see what he does this year and next.

Kurt's picture

Was scrolling down looking for a comment about Sumlin.  Perhaps a bit overrated for 1 season at A&M - though I know he was very successful at Houston.

Chris Lauderback's picture

Good point on Strong. His resume probably isn't worthy of top 10 just yet. I'm jumping the gun a bit because I do think he's going to capitalize on the crazy momentum he's already generated at Louisville. (Sumlin, too, for that matter)

Buckeyefan52's picture

I though Ferentz was the BIG coach of the year before?

That award was a joke.

toad1204's picture

B1G COY is the best coach not at tOSU. 

Nothing like dancing on the field in 02... 

Riggins's picture

The 5 Worst look more like the Most Overrated IMO.  I definitely think you could find 5 coaches who are worse, but more unknown.  But that wouldn't drive pageviews in our sensationalized media...

GABuckeye's picture

And overpaid!  Ferentz's contract is a joke, and Weis is still collecting from ND.

tennbuckeye19's picture

Notre Dame is actually paying Weis more than Brian Kelly. Lol. When all is said and done ND will have paid Weis about 19 million for his buyout. Kelly only makes about 1.1 million a year right now (which is a bargain for a big time CFB program).
Apparently Ferentz's contract and buyout is similar to Weis and could end up costing Iowa A LOT of money (@ least 2 mill. a year through 2020).

DaiTheFlu's picture

I know Notre Dame doesn't typically release salary information, as they're a private institution and are under no obligation to do so. That said, the $1.1 million that Brian Kelly gets paid has to be just his base compensation, which I think is pretty common among big time head coaches, who make up the remaining $2-3 million a year in bonuses and media compensation. There's no way that the head coach at Notre Dame makes less than Clemson's Offensive Coordinator.

We can't stop here; this is bat country...

tennbuckeye19's picture

If you read the article I linked above, they suspect that Kelly made more than 1.1 this past year with incentives and bonuses, but they claim that even the men's and women's basketball coaches at ND make more than Kelly. The larger point was just that Weis was reportedly paid more than Kelly.

toad1204's picture

I'm hoping Beckman, can at least, double his wins from last year.  I'm thinking the cupboard might have been a little empty when he took over. 

Nothing like dancing on the field in 02... 

GoBucks713's picture

I couldn't call Beckman one of the 5 worst coaches yet. The guy just got to Illinois and is still putting in his system. Maybe 5 worst programs right now, but not 5 worst coaches. I think if you give that guy a few years he will be much better off.

-The Aristocrats!

Nick's picture

Yeah I agree his Toledo team was better than the Illini team for sure. I was at that Toledo game and had heartburn with Bauserbombs slinging away. 

GoBucks713's picture

That game was horrible. I was surrounded by a bunch of Blue Hairs that got their alumni tickets and were yelling at me to sit down because I was cheering. I wasn't a boo bird though, but when Chris Fields returned that punt, you sure can bet that everyone in my section got annoyed with my ear piercing whistles and jumping up and down. Suck it, you old hag.

-The Aristocrats!

DaiTheFlu's picture

A bunch of annoying old blue-hairs complaining about noise and a near loss to a MAC team? Sounds like any Michigan home game under Rich Rod. :)

We can't stop here; this is bat country...

Dr. House's picture

honestly i hate going to any type of game and being told to sit down
(steps on soap box) you are paying for the right to sit in a seat that is uncomfortable. you have every damn right to be stand in that seat area those are your 18 in to do what ever the hell you want to. if they don't like it they can give up their seats and let some young blood into those sections. this bothers me to no end.
its like when i saw springsteen at penn state i was told to sit down at a concert and i told the guy no then he rear naked choke slams me back in to my seat. i get up scream i don't give a flying exploitive about you or your wifes exploitive knees you should have paid for better seats (we were one row away from the top) god i hate being told to sit down in an arena. 

AJW_16's picture

Preach Dr. House. During the 2003 season my dad and I had two stuck-up yuppies sitting behind us; the wife actually pushed me down as I stood up to cheer during an OSU touchdown. Shame.

"Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you." 

GoBucks713's picture

That's when everytime you have to fart, you stand up.

-The Aristocrats!

osu07asu10's picture

Yeah absolutely. He had a horrible...horrible...horrible...year but I am pretty sure that ol Zooker was on borrowed time and if ever there was a "cupboards bare" example Illinois MAY be that.

Add to it that Beckman is a no non-sense doesn't take shit coach (without the 2 NCs and rockstar persona) who is bound to rub a program used to laid back zooker in the wrong direction.
I would look for Illinois to make a huge leap in improvement this year, maybe not record, but I bet they will win a few they weren't supposed to be and put a scare in a few more. They will be much improved and cause a few teams on their schedule a headache.

CJDPHoS Board of Directors // Best friends with Homey Hache

The 0 is silent.

Poe McKnoe's picture

I've never understood the Beckman hype.  He was an okay position coach at Ohio State and had pretty lousy performing defenses at Oklahoma State.  Toledo was a top 3 team in the MAC and his offense seemed a little too Sun Belt to truly have success in the Big Ten.
Also, part of being a good coach is being a good recruiter.  Everyone thought Ron Zook was a good coach because he recruited 5 star players.  So far, Beckman hasn't been restocking those bare cupboards.

Crimson's picture

I've been wondering how good Beckman is since he was at UT.  I'm thinking Campbell had more to do with the team's performance than he did, since he was a defensive coach after all.  I'm still willing to give him time to see.

subermp's picture

Ron English, really? Vince Lombardi couldn't end with a winning record with the roster he inherited. How is RichRod not on that list? He had some good seasons at WV, but he completely tanked a good Michigan program, and then there's the chaos on his sideline with Arizona players fighting each other at the New Mexico Bowl. He might be a good Xs and Os guy, but he's definatley in the bottom five when it comes to running a program.

BuckeyeLurker0509's picture

Bob Stoops absolutely belongs on this list.
Charlie Strong needs a larger body of work  as a head coach to be considered top 10.

Maffro's picture

My thoughts:
1. I'd probably hold off on naming Sumlin top 10 at this moment, or at least not above Stoops or Briles.
2. Les Miles is not a top 10 coach, unless you're including John Chavis with him.
3. Not sure if I'd put him top 10, but Mike Gundy needs more recognition.
4. Snyder is such an underrated coach, and I'd put him over Patterson and Petersen if we're not just living in the moment. I don't think people understand just how moribund Kansas State's football program was without him; a person could make a legitimate argument that he is one of the greatest college football coaches of all-time, and that's even without having won a national championship.

tennbuckeye19's picture

On #2, before Chavis, Miles had Bo Pelini as DC and they won a NC.
While I actually do think Miles is a good coach, he is certainly a guy who has benefited greatly by having excellent assistant coaches around him. But I'm not gonna knock him for that. A big part of being a great HC is the ability to assemble a quality staff.

Maffro's picture

I agree completely. I should have reworded my comment; I didn't mean to imply that Miles wasn't a good coach in my mind.

BABuckeye's picture

When I see Les Miles on a list like this, I smile. Why? Because he did not end up at TSUN so TSUN had to go with a backup option, Rich Rod.
I still subscribe to the theory that Miles planned to coach the NC game at LSU and then head home to coach his alma mater until Herbie (once a Buckeye, always a Buckeye, despite being employed by ESecPN), learned from his co-worker Desmond Howard that TSUN was negotiating Miles so he leaked the story, forcing Miles to host a presser claiming he was loyal to LSU and forcing LSU to amend his contract on the spot. Herbie stepped out of his role as announcer to play investigative journalist while it suited him--though he never played investigative reporter before that point, or after that point.  Some people have soured on Herbie but for this reason alone, I will always like him.

JoeinCbus's picture

I don't get the Beckman thing at all.  He's an excellent coach; Illinois was a mess when he took over.  It takes a long time to change a culture.
Ferentz isn't a bad coach.  He's an overrated coach.

tennbuckeye19's picture

I'm not willing to say Beckman is an "excellent coach". He did pretty good @ Toledo, but he took an Illinois program that went 7-6 Zook's last year and went 2-10. I agree that he's rebuilding, but the perception, right or wrong, is that he did worse than Zook.
My biggest thing is that I wouldn't even put him on this list because he's only been a head coach for 4 years. To me that's not a big enough sample size. 

ColerainBuckeye33's picture

List should be compiled as over achievers and under achievers and then we might have a little better gauge.

A wise man once said "success is not final and failure is not fatal"

NoVA Buckeye's picture

But... Kirk Ferentz is the greatest coach that ever existed ever! EVER!!!!

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

Orlando Pancakes's picture

I think Kirk is DEFINITELY overrated, but I think it is unfair to put him in the top five for worst coaches. He runs a clean program and taking out one of his best years is unfair to his good winning percentage, wait for it..........at IOWA. Minnesota would kill  (no pun intended) for a coach like that. I think his rating is based more on his ridiculous salary and not his coaching prowess.

Knarcisi's picture

Briles?  He had a Heisman winner. The year after, I watched them play several track meets. One in particular against WVU. A top 10 coach would have found a way defensively to get one stop before they scored 70. 

SouthernSailor's picture

With the talent Baylor can attract I don't think he has done a bad job. 

Knarcisi's picture

I didn't say he has done a bad job. I do say he is not the 10th best coach in the country. Not by a long shot. 

tdible2132's picture

Since Tim Beckman used to be my neighbor, I would like to stick up for him here and say that he was put into a no win situation at Illinois.  He did a really good job at Toledo, and I think he's a pretty solid coach.  Obviously he's no Urban Meyer, but he is an Urban Meyer disciple and I do think he could be successful at another school.  Illinois was just a disaster waiting to happen for Beckman and that's unfortunate. 

btalbert25's picture

Honestly, despite my hatred for the guy, Brian Kelly should be in the top 10 before a couple names on that list.  He's had his ass kicked on the big stage, but he took UC to 2 BCS games and Notre Dame to a National Title game appearance.  Notre Dame had a shot at a title for the first time in 20 years, and NO ONE expected Notre Dame to not lose a game in the regular season.  Where they really a title contender? No, but neither were their 4 and 5 loss teams in years before.  
I also think putting a guy like Strong on the list now simply because outside of the first 5 or 6 there are some questions marks.  Chip Kelly left college too and he'd certainly be there.  Also after the first 6 or so, how many super star coaches are there?  Miles and Stoops are on the list because of past successes.  Petrino hasn't even coached a game at WKU yet and didn't coach last year at all.  We just know that he used to be really good.  
When you get outside of 4 or 5 guys it's just hard to say.  I'd even go so far as to say Saban and Meyer are 1 and 1A, or 1 and 2 with everyone else WAY behind them so whoever you put after 2 really doesn't matter because 1-2 are so good. 

rkylet83's picture

Call me crazy, but I think Pat Fitzgerald is near top 10 caliber.  The guy wins a lot of games with probably the toughest place to recruit.

buckeye1129's picture

Fitzgerald will be at a USC, Texas, Florida State, etc.. within a few year span if he so chooses.  If he stays at Northwestern he will either win the B1G or come in 2nd a few times in the next 5 years, so long as he and OSU are in separate divisions, can't really think of the new ones for 2014 off the top of my head.
If he goes to a USC type school where recruiting comes easy, well then watch the F out college football.

buckeye1129's picture

Ok, he won't win the B1G in the next 5 years, that was probably giving him a little too much credit.  But he is young, smart and seemingly passionate about his job.  He will find success.  I think if he ends up at one of those major schools he could win a ring by the end of his career.

You can't spell chump without UM's picture

Another guy that could be in the top 10 is David Shaw, the star QB leaves and Stanford still wins the Pac 12 and win the Rose Bowl, granted it was against an average Wisconsin team, but I still think he's top 10 worthy

Brady Hoke ate my comment

buckeye1129's picture

Phewww! I thought for sure this was the year Bill Snyder's kids dropped him off at the Little Apple Retirement Lodge for the Sick and Elderly.  There is no way the man has all his faculties remaining.  Even Joe Pa pooped his pants in front of 106,000 people and he was sharp as a tack for 82.  Honestly though, I hope to see Kansas State continue to do well under Bill's coaching.  He is a college football legend.

iball's picture

Bob Stoops has NO business on this list!!

“There’s one thing I have learned through all my adventures and conquests - it’s that some people are just wired for success. I had no choice when it came to being great - I just am great.” – Kenny Powers

nickma71's picture

Charlie Weis is one of the biggest frauds I have seen in my 40 years. Those idiots at Kansas were not paying attention to the record post spygate.

acBuckeye's picture

Switch Snyder and Petersen. I appreciate Bill Snyder and the job he's done more and more every year. Sumlin and Briles are not Top 10 worthy yet, and I'd have a hard time putting Strong there as well.
I think Shaw from Stanford should be, however. And Pat Fitzgerald as well. They should replace Sumlin and Briles for now.
The Bottom 5 is a lame list. Like someone said earlier, the actual 5 worst coaches are guys we've never heard of. The one Mandel released is just an "overrated" list.