Remember when Alabama won the College Football Playoff back in January?
You probably did not realize it at the time, but those victories to finish off the Crimson Tide's championship season broke a tie between Nick Saban and Woody Hayes in career winning percentage:
|75th||NICK SABAN||1990-2015||20 (ACTIVE)||252||191||60||1||.760|
Your eyes wanted to go to the right end of the table where the two coaches are separated by just .001, but what quickly jumped out at you in that table were their 75th and 76th rankings. How.
Saban has led five national title teams at two schools and has gone 100-18 at Alabama but still has 74 guys above him with higher career winning percentages due almost exclusively to his Big Ten tenure in East Lansing where he went 34-24-1. In Sparty coaching lore Saban owns the 9th highest winning percentage in Michigan State coaching history (FYI, John Cooper has Ohio State's 9th highest winning percentage).
If you removed the George Perles-era probation shackles Saban inherited and the historical Spartiness that worked against his success there, you end up with something more reflective of his years in Toledo, Baton Rouge and Tuscaloosa:
|30th*||NICK SABAN||1990-CURRENT||15 (ACTIVE)||193||157||36||0||.813|
Vacating those five seasons slides Saban into the all-time top 30. That feels more appropriate for how he's thought of and will be remembered once he retires.
So with that context out of the way - let's cut to the chase:
|1st||LARRY KEHRES||MOUNT UNION||27||359||332||24||3||.929|
|2nd||KNUTE ROCKNE||NOTRE DAME||13||122||105||12||5||.881|
|3rd||FRANK LEAHY||BC, ND||13||129||107||13||9||.864|
|4th||BOB READE||AUGUSTANA (IL)||16||170||146||23||1||.862|
|6th||URBAN MEYER||BG, UTAH, UF, OSU||14 (ACTIVE)||181||154||27||0||.851|
The Buckeyes are 50-4 with Urban at the helm. This run included a probationary period carrying scholarship reductions that were only lifted last season. His Ohio State program was docked as many scholarships as Michigan State was when Saban arrived. They took over disappointing six and five-win teams, respectively. MSU did not get a postseason ban.
Anyway, that's a .926 winning percentage in Columbus under sub-optimal circumstances. If you don't think that's sustainable then you haven't been paying close enough attention to the monster he has been building over the past four seasons. Meyer's wiring has been reconfigured to keep him healthier, and as long as he's operating with autonomy you're going to see Ohio State football performing at a championship level every season, even when it's replacing a coordinator and damn near everybody else.
Fans routinely wonder how long Meyer will continue coaching in Columbus (or anywhere) but if he guides the Buckeyes through just his 56th birthday in five seasons at his current pace he will pass Frank Leahy in winning percentage, moving to 3rd all-time. In related news - remember, they're viewed as contemporaries - Saban turns 65 this year.
Here's a glimpse into some of the milestones that are in reach. If Meyer continues to lead Ohio State at the pace he's established over his first four seasons while transitioning the program into his own, he will find himself near the top of every conceivable coaching measurement:
|PASSING DOYT PERRY IN CAREER WINNING %||2017||53|
|100 WINS AT OHIO STATE||2019||55|
|PASSING BOB READE IN CAREER WINNING %||2019||55|
|PASSING HAYDEN FRY IN CAREER B1G VICTORIES||2020||56|
|PASSING FRANK LEAHY IN CAREER WINNING %||2020||56|
|REACHING 200 CAREER WINS||2020||56|
|PASSING AMOS ALONZO STAGG IN CAREER B1G VICTORIES||2022||58|
|PASSING JOE PATERNO IN CAREER B1G VICTORIES||2024||60|
|REACHING 300 CAREER WINS||2029||65|
|PASSING WOODY HAYES as ALL-TIME WININGEST OSU COACH||2030||66|
|PASSING BO SCHEMBECHLER IN CAREER B1G VICTORIES||2030||66|
|PASSING KNUTE ROCKNE IN CAREER WINNING %||2031||67|
|PASSING WOODY HAYES (#1) IN CAREER B1G VICTORIES||2031||67|
If we know anything after a century of college football, it's that the only thing linear about this sport is the field itself. The only predictable part of the game is its unpredictability.
But all of those marks are well within the realm of possibility for Meyer's career. All he has to do is coach until his retirement age and keep winning the way he always has.