On Monday night, Urban Meyer and his Buckeyes made all of us ‘pundits,’ who foolishly picked Oregon to win look silly, and in the process cemented Meyer as one of the best college football coaches—past or present. Here’s a look at the ten best present coaches:
10. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech: 231–115–2 record, 8 major bowls, 7 conference titles, zero national titles—Beamer has gone just 22–17 the last three seasons, but that comes on the heels of 8 consecutive 10-plus win seasons and 13 overall since starting at Virginia Tech in 1987—which had zero before his arrival.
9. Chris Peterson, Washington: 100–19 record, 2 major bowls, 4 conference titles, zero national titles—Peterson was a jaw-dropping 84–8 through his first seven years with two undefeated seasons and a pair of famous BCS Bowl wins. Now that he’s at a major college we’ll see what he can really do.
8. Bill Snyder, Kansas State: 187–94–1 record, 6 major bowls, 2 conference titles, zero national titles—Before his arrival in 1989, Kansas State had just four winning seasons since 1934—never had they even reached the nine-win plateau, prior to him coming on board. Under the hardworking Snyder the Wildcats have won 9 or more games 13 times in his 23 seasons.
7. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State: 93–48 record, 2 major bowls, 2 conference titles, zero national titles—Dantonio’s only been with the Spartans for eight years but already he’s put Michigan State on the national stage, going 51–14 the past five seasons with a Rose Bowl win and an outright Big Ten title in 2013.
6. Art Briles, Baylor: 89–63 record, 2 major bowls, 2 conference titles, zero national titles—Briles, like Dantonio, has done a quick rebuild at Baylor though the Bears were a bigger project than Michigan State. Briles’s 2013 Big 12 title was the school’s first outright conference championship since 1980 and he won another win this season.
5. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma: 168–44 record, 11 major bowls, 8 conference titles, 1 national title—Stoops has been at OU for 16 years and has won at least 10 games in 12 of those seasons, while going to a bowl game every single time. In addition he’s been to four national title games (having lost the last three), though none since 2008.
4. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State: 58–11 record, 3 major bowls, 3 conference titles, 1 national title—Fisher has proven to be quite the successor to Bobby Bowden and his 357 career wins. While the Seminoles had taken a step back during Bowden’s later years, Fisher has gone 39–3 the last three years to put Florida State back among the greats.
3. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina: 226–85–2 record, 8 major bowls, 7 conference titles, 1 national title—Spurrier hasn’t won a conference title since coming to once-lowly South Carolina, but he has gained the respect of many who thought turning an SEC also-ran into a major power was impossible. The Gamecocks have had 3 11-win campaigns and zero losing seasons in his 10 years in South Carolina after a very successful stint with the Gators.
2. Urban Meyer, Ohio State: 142–26 record, 6 major bowls, 5 conference titles, 3 national titles—Meyer has won big everywhere he’s been (Bowling Green, Utah, Florida, and Alabama) and he’s been especially successful with the Buckeyes, posting a 38–3 record since arriving in 2012. Even more amazing, he’s won 12 or more games in half of his 14 seasons as a coach.
1. Nick Saban, Alabama: 182–59–1 record, 9 major bowls, 6 conference titles, 4 national titles—Saban still has a sizable lead over the competition as no current coach can match his four national titles. Currently he has the Tide rolling—10 or more wins 7 straight seasons—with a 91–17 record overall in Alabama. That’s on the heels of turning LSU into a national power (including another title) from 2000–04.