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#pounditThursday, June 20, 2024

10 best coaches in college football

5) Gary Patterson, TCU

When Patterson took over the Horned Frogs job in 2000, the school was in the Western Athletic Conference, on the verge of a move to Conference USA. The TCU program has grown in a major way in the decade and a half since, and Patterson has masterminded every step of it. Their rise from one of college football’s “mid-major” programs to Big 12 contender under Patterson is no coincidence.

A brilliant defensive coach, Patterson has a number of signature achievements.

TCU’s time in the Mountain West established them as a national power, with Patterson taking the school to two BCS bowls, including a 13-0 season in 2010 capped with a Rose Bowl win and a No. 2 end-of-season rank in both the AP and Coaches Poll. Some feared that a move to the Big 12 might be too much for the school, but Patterson proved the doubters wrong with a 12-1 season in 2014 and an 11-2 follow-up the next year, both seasons ending with top-ten rankings. He’s succeeded with TCU at pretty much every level of competition.

4) Dabo Swinney, Clemson

Swinney’s time at Clemson has essentially made “Clemsoning” a thing of the past, with the program becoming one of college football’s consistent best. After Tommy Bowden failed to post double-digit wins in any of his years at Clemson, Swinney did it in his third full season of 2011 and has done it every year since. Clemson has won six of their last seven bowl appearances under him, with the only loss coming in 2016’s National Championship Game.

The numbers say it all for Swinney: an 89-28 career record and consecutive title game appearances, with the second resulting in a national championship. Plus, the guy seems like an absolute blast to play for.

He could move even higher on lists like this if his success continues.

3) Jim Harbaugh, Michigan

Love him or hate him, there is no denying that Harbaugh is a serial winner. He turned the University of San Diego into an FCS power, made Stanford a top-five team in just four seasons, and promptly jumped to the NFL, where he went 44-19 with the San Francisco 49ers, with an NFC championship in 2013. Frankly, nobody would bat an eye if he went back to the NFL; he’s proven he can win there.

That said, Harbaugh seems perfectly happy at his alma mater of Michigan.

True to his reputation, he returned them to credibility the instant he set foot on campus in 2015, and quickly restored them to national power status on the field as well. He beat expectations with a 10-3 season in 2015, and had the Wolverines in College Football Playoff contention for virtually the entire 2016 season. He’s a gifted recruiter who loves to do unconventional but really cool things with his players, and Michigan will be a national power as long as he’s at the helm.

2) Urban Meyer, Ohio State

A three-time national champion at two different schools, Meyer’s resume speaks for itself. He won at Bowling Green; he moved to Utah and promptly posted an undefeated season in year two; he jumped to Florida and posted one of the most successful stretches in college football history. One of two coaches with multiple titles, he took his magic to Columbus, where he grabbed a program struggling after the Jim Tressel-era scandals and promptly won 61 of his first 67 games at Ohio State and won the national championship in his third season there. It took until his fourth season with the Buckeyes for him to lose a regular season conference tilt.

Meyer’s impact has been felt throughout college football, with his acclaimed spread offense sparking a revolution. He’s a top-level recruiter who has replenished Ohio State with bags of talent every season no matter who leaves for the NFL. The same will be true in 2017.

1) Nick Saban, Alabama

There can be only one, and Saban remains at the top of the coaching mountain.

He’s a five-time national champion, including three in four seasons between 2009 and 2012. He has made Alabama the unquestioned top program in college football, going 114-19 under his tenure — not counting five vacated wins due to violations committed under predecessor Mike Shula. In fact, six of Saban’s 19 career Alabama losses came in his first season there — he’s lost just 13 games in the last nine years.

Saban’s Alabama teams churn out tons of NFL talent, perpetually finish in the top ten, and always contend for the national title. His standards are ridiculously high, but are vital in pushing his ridiculously talented teams to the next level. The guy has been talked about in the same sentence as Bear Bryant and even floated as the best collegiate coach ever. There can be no disputing his spot on this list.

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