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#pounditSaturday, January 22, 2022

10 best coaches in college football

Dabo Swinney

Who are the truly elite coaches in college football? Many coaches have an argument that they should be considered elite. Many have been successful in their careers, but a few go above and beyond, winning consistently no matter where they go. We have identified just who those coaches are.

With the 2017 season getting closer and closer, here is a list of the 10 best coaches in college football.

10) Tom Herman, Texas

One might argue that it’s too soon for Herman to appear on a list like this. After all, he has just two seasons as a head coach to his name, but he’s 22-4 in those two seasons, including a 13-1 inaugural season with the Houston Cougars. They slipped to 9-3 a season later, but even that year featured victories over two top-five teams at the time in Oklahoma and Louisville.

Though Houston lost a few surprising games during his tenure, Herman had them ready for the big ones. Herman’s Cougars never lost to an AP Top 25 opponent or a Power-5 foe, going 6-0 and 5-0 respectively. He parlayed his success into a move to Texas, where, by his own admission, he has his work cut out for him.

It may take time, but it’s hard to imagine him not being a success there.

9) Mark Dantonio, Michigan State

Dantonio’s star has indisputably fallen after a miserable 3-9 season in 2016 plagued by issues on and off the field, but one bad year doesn’t erase what he had accomplished at Michigan State before that.

When he took over the Spartans’ program in 2007, they were a middling group not on the national radar, being dubbed “little brother” by in-state rival Michigan. Despite no top-tier recruiting classes, Dantonio had the Spartans in the top 15 within four years, ultimately winning the school’s first Rose Bowl in 26 years back in 2014. In spite of losing numerous pieces from that team to the NFL, he followed up the Rose Bowl season with Michigan State’s first appearance in the College Football Playoff two years later.

Dantonio boasts a 90-42 career record at Michigan State and three Big Ten titles. It’s fair to say that he’ll have the Spartans bouncing back from their terrible 2016 sooner rather than later.

8) Bob Stoops, Oklahoma

Sooner fans aren’t always happy with Stoops, but he gives the Oklahoma program remarkable consistency and a chance to compete for a championship virtually every season. Stoops has a remarkable ten Big 12 titles to his name in 18 years at the school and has never once missed out on a bowl game. In 11 of his 18 years, his Sooners have finished in the top ten, appeared in four BCS Championship games, and he’s the only BCS-era coach to have won all four of the traditional “BCS bowls” — the Rose, Sugar, Orange, and Fiesta.

Stoops’s detractors do have some valid criticisms.

Despite being in regular contention, he has only won one national championship, and that was back in 2000. He’s just 9-9 in bowl games, with a sub-.500 record in BCS/College Football Playoff appearances. Still, there’s something to be said for consistency, and Stoops has never had an outright bad season. Oklahoma is pretty much guaranteed to be a factor nationally under him.

7) Jimbo Fisher, Florida State

Jimbo has been nothing but a success since succeeding Bobby Bowden as Florida State coach. He once led the team to 29 consecutive victories across three seasons, including a national title in 2013. The departure of quarterback Jameis Winston for the NFL only proved a temporary stumbling block; Fisher led the teams after his departure to consecutive 10-win seasons, including an Orange Bowl win in 2016.

In seven seasons at Florida State, Fisher has gone 78-17, posted a 5-2 mark in bowl games, and never finished a season ranked outside of the top 25. He was given the extremely difficult task of succeeding an iconic coach, and he has done so with distinction. Moreover, he’s committed to Florida State, having dismissed interest from a top SEC school twice.

6) Chris Petersen, Washington

Petersen rose to national prominence on January 1, 2007, when his remarkably gutsy playcalling — who could forget the Statue of Liberty play? — led the unheralded Boise State Broncos to a Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma, completing a 13-0 season. Peterson ended up going 92-12 at Boise, adding another BCS bowl win along the way, before finally being tempted away by Washington.

It took Petersen two seasons to get the Huskies into their stride, but they did so in 2016, romping through Pac-12 play on the way to a College Football Playoff appearance. It marked his third BCS/CFP appearance in 11 seasons as a head coach, none of them coming at traditional power programs. He’s one of the brightest offensive minds in the nation, and he has the Washington program trending toward sustained national prominence.

See Nos. 5-1 on Page 2

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