College Football The Best College Football Coaches of All Time  

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49.6k votes 6k voters 122.1k views 95 items

List Rules Only college football coaches. No high school or NFL coaches, unless they coached in college at some point.

This list of the best college football coaches of all time is full of big names and legendary coaching empires. Ever wondered who was is the greatest college football coach of all time? Now is your opportunity to have a say in the matter. Granted, picking who this should be won't be easy, as you have to consider different eras of NCAA football along with a number of other factors, like bowl game wins, national titles, who was on their team, and who got the most bang for their buck out of their players. But it's on you to pick whatever criteria you want in determining who is the best college football coach ever. As long as they coached college play at some point, they can be listed here, but be sure to vote based on each coach's storied college career only.

There are some pretty big names on this list, titans of the coaching world. If you're an Alabama fan, you'll have a tough time picking between Bear Bryant and Nick Saban. The same goes for any Notre Dame fan and for USC supporters, who do you think is a better coach: John McKay or Pete Carroll? Who's the best of these famous college football coaches?

It shouldn't be easy for you to decide who the greatest college football coaches are. There are simply too many all time greats. Just remember though, where would each coaches' team be without them steering the ship and keeping the players in line? Not an easy question to answer.

So who is the best college football coach of all time? It's up to you to decide. If you notice someone isn't on this list and should be, feel free to add him. This is the crowdranked list of what coach deserves to called the greatest ever, so choose wisely!
list ordered by

1
1,953 1,212
Bear Bryant is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Died at 70 (1913-1983) - Paul William "Bear" Bryant was an American college football player and coach. He was best known as the longtime head coach of the University of Alabama football team. During his ...more

2
1,963 1,297
Nick Saban is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
age 67 - Nicholas Lou "Nick" Saban, Jr. is an American college football coach, and the current head football coach of the University of Alabama, a position he has held since the 2007 season. ...more

3
1,489 1,188
Tom Osborne is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
age 81 - Thomas William "Tom" Osborne is a former American football player, coach, college athletics administrator, and politician from Nebraska. He served as the head football coach at the ...more

4
952 873
Knute Rockne is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Died at 43 (1888-1931) - Knute Kenneth Rockne was a Norwegian-American football player and coach, both at the University of Notre Dame. He is regarded as one of the greatest coaches in college football history. His ...more

5
914 1,041
Bobby Bowden is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
age 89 - Robert Cleckler "Bobby" Bowden is a retired American football coach. He coached the Florida State Seminoles football team from the 1976 to 2009 seasons. During his time at Florida ...more

6
1,248 1,383
Joe Paterno is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Died at 86 (1926-2012) - Joseph Vincent "Joe" Paterno, sometimes referred to as "JoePa", was an American college football player and coach who was the head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions from ...more

7
912 876
Woody Hayes is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Died at 74 (1913-1987) - Wayne Woodrow "Woody" Hayes was an American football player and coach. He served as the head coach at Denison University, Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and Ohio State University, ...more

8
574 498
Bud Wilkinson is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Died at 78 (1916-1994) - Charles Burnham "Bud" Wilkinson was an American football player, coach, broadcaster, and politician. He served as the head football coach at the University of Oklahoma from 1947 to ...more

9
491 409
Pop Warner is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Pop Warner

10
820 798
Bo Schembechler is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Died at 77 (1929-2006) - Glenn Edward "Bo" Schembechler, Jr. was an American football player, coach, and athletics administrator. He served as the head football coach at Miami University from 1963 to 1968 and ...more

11
515 358
Bill Snyder is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
DerekBurton added age 79 - Bill Snyder is an American football coach and former player. He currently serves as the head football coach at Kansas State University. He served as head football coach at the school from 1989 ...more

12
990 952
Urban Meyer is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
age 54 - Urban Frank Meyer, III is an American college football coach and former player, currently the head football coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes. Meyer served as the head coach of the Bowling Green ...more

13
673 718
Barry Switzer is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
age 81 - Barry Layne Switzer He spent sixteen years as head coach of the University of Oklahoma and four years as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. He has one of the highest winning percentages of any ...more

14
681 682
Steve Spurrier is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
age 73 - Stephen Orr "Steve" Spurrier is an American college football coach and former player. Spurrier is the current head football coach of the University of South Carolina Gamecocks. He is ...more

15
554 540
Jimmy Johnson is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
age 75 - James William "Jimmy" Johnson is an American football broadcaster and former player, coach, and executive. He served as the head football coach at Oklahoma State University–Stillwater ...more

16
712 728
Lou Holtz is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
age 81 - Louis Leo "Lou" Holtz is a former college football analyst for ESPN as well as a former football coach. He served as the head football coach at The College of William & Mary, North ...more

17
374 319
Robert Neyland is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Died at 70 (1892-1962) - Robert Reese Neyland, MBE, was an American football player and coach and officer in the United States Army, reaching the rank of brigadier general. He served three stints as the head football ...more

18
468 515
Ara Parseghian is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
age 95 - Ara Raoul Parseghian is a former American football player and coach who guided the University of Notre Dame to national championships in 1966 and 1973. He is noted for bringing Notre Dame's ...more

19
596 699
Bob Devaney is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Died at 82 (1915-1997) - Robert S. "Bob" Devaney was a college football coach. He served as the head coach at the University of Wyoming from 1957 to 1961 and at the University of Nebraska from 1962 to 1972, ...more

20
352 398
Frank Leahy is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Died at 65 (1908-1973) - Francis William Leahy was an American football player, coach, college athletics administrator, and professional sports executive. He served as the head football coach at Boston College from 1939 ...more

21
384 357
John Heisman is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Died at 67 (1869-1936) - John William Heisman was an American player and coach of football, basketball, and baseball. He served as the head football coach at Oberlin College, Buchtel College—now known as the University ...more

22
406 474
Eddie Robinson is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Died at 88 (1919-2007) - Edward Gay Robinson was an American football coach. He is the second winningest coach in NCAA Division I history and third winningest coach overall. For 57 years from 1941 to 1997, he was the ...more

23
439 479
Gene Stallings is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
age 83 - Eugene Clifton Stallings, Jr. is a retired American football player and coach. He played college football at Texas A&M University, where he was one of the "Junction Boys", and ...more

24
322 343
Fielding H. Yost is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Died at 75 (1871-1946) - Fielding Harris Yost was an American football player, coach, and college athletics administrator. He served as the head football coach at Ohio Wesleyan University, the University of ...more

25
324 369
Darrell Royal is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Died at 88 (1924-2012) - Darrell K Royal was an American football player and coach. He served as the head coach at Mississippi State University, the University of Washington, and the University of Texas at Austin, ...more

26
306 402
Amos Alonzo Stagg is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Died at 103 (1862-1965) - Amos Alonzo Stagg was an American athlete and pioneering college coach in multiple sports, primarily American football. He served as the head football coach at the International Young Men's ...more

27
308 414
John McKay is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Died at 78 (1923-2001) - John Harvey McKay was an American football coach. He was the head coach at the University of Southern California from 1960 to 1975 and of the National Football League's Tampa Bay Buccaneers from ...more

28
347 380
Frank Beamer is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
age 72 - Frank Beamer is an American college football coach and former player. He is currently the head football coach at Virginia Tech, a position he has held since 1987. From 1981 to 1986, Beamer ...more

29
423 583
Pete Carroll is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
age 67 - Peter Clay "Pete" Carroll is the head coach and executive vice president of the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League. He is a former head coach of the New York Jets, the ...more

30
427 496
Bob Stoops is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
age 58 - Robert Anthony "Bob" Stoops is the head coach of the Oklahoma Sooners football team of the University of Oklahoma. During the 2000 season, Stoops led the Sooners to an Orange Bowl ...more

31
123 83
Johnny Majors is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Tom Derr added age 83 - Johnny Majors is a former American football player and coach. A standout halfback at the University of Tennessee, he was an All-American in 1956 and a two-time winner of the Southeastern ...more

32
308 505
Jim Tressel is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
age 66 - James Patrick "Jim" Tressel is an American college administrator and former college football coach who served as head coach of the Youngstown State Penguins from 1986 to 2000 and the ...more

33
98 30
Dabo Swinney is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
age 49 - William Christopher "Dabo" Swinney is an American football college coach and former player. He is currently the head coach at Clemson. He took over the head coaching job at Clemson ...more

34
226 318
LaVell Edwards is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
age 88 - Reuben LaVell Edwards is a former American football coach of Brigham Young University. With 257 career victories, he ranks as one of the most successful college football coaches of all time. ...more

35
204 261
Vince Dooley is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
MattWeisbecker added age 86 - Vincent Joseph Dooley was the head football coach and athletic director at the University of Georgia. During his 25 year coaching career at UGA, Dooley compiled a 201–77–10 record. His teams won ...more

36
87 26
Vince Lombardi is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Saltine.RedNeck added Died at 57 (1913-1970) - Vincent Thomas "Vince" Lombardi, was an American football player, coach, and executive. He is best known as the head coach of the Green Bay Packers during the 1960s, where he led the ...more

37
109 162
Howard Schnellenberger is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Matthew Plowman added age 84 - Howard Schnellenberger is a retired American football coach with long service at both the professional and college levels. He was most recently the head coach at Florida Atlantic, having ...more

38
149 239
Don James is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
hcalkins added Died at 81 (1932-2013) - Donald Earl "Don" James was an American football player and coach. He served as the head coach at Kent State University from 1971 to 1974 and at the University of Washington from 1975 ...more

39
196 308
Wallace Wade is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Died at 94 (1892-1986) - William Wallace Wade was an American football player and coach of football, basketball and baseball. He served as the head football coach at the University of Alabama from 1923 to 1930 and at ...more

40
238 436
Mack Brown is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
age 67 - William Mack Brown is a former American college football coach. He was most recently head football coach of the Texas Longhorns football team of the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to his ...more

41
98 91
Hayden Fry is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Tom Derr added age 89 - John Hayden Fry is a former American football player and coach. He played college football for Baylor University. He served as the head coach at Southern Methodist University, North Texas State ...more

42
186 292
Dan Devine is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Died at 78 (1924-2002) - Daniel John Devine was an American football player and coach. He served as the head coach football coach at Arizona State University from 1955 to 1957, the University of Missouri from 1958 to ...more

43
93 128
Frank Broyles is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Jimmy Smith added age 94 - John Franklin Broyles is a former American football player and coach, athletics administrator, and broadcaster. He served as the head football coach at the University of Missouri in 1957 and at ...more

44
44 32
Phillip Fulmer is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Tom Derr added age 68 - Phillip Fulmer is a former American football player and coach. He served as head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers football team from 1992 to 2008, compiling a 152–52 record. He is best known ...more

45
57 49
Mark Dantonio is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Tom Derr added age 62 - Mark Justin Dantonio is an American football coach and former player. He is the current head football coach at Michigan State University, a position he has held since the 2007 season, presiding ...more

46
95 103
Barry Alvarez is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Tom Derr added age 72 - Barry L. Alvarez is a former American football coach who is currently the athletic director at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He served as the head football coach at Wisconsin for 16 ...more

47
200 281
Les Miles is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
IssacClark added age 65 - Leslie Edwin "Les" Miles is an American college football coach and the current head coach of the LSU Tigers football team. He is nicknamed "The Hat" for his signature white ...more

48
158 277
Frank Thomas is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Died at 56 (1898-1954) - Frank W. Thomas was an American football player and coach. He served as the head football coach at the University of Chattanooga from 1925 to 1928 and at the University of Alabama from 1931 to ...more

49
89 117
Pat Dye is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Theodore Roosevelt added age 79 - Patrick Fain Dye is a former American football player, coach, and college athletics administrator. He served as the head football coach at East Carolina University, the University of Wyoming, ...more

50
188 302
Chris Petersen is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
age 54 - Christopher Scott "Chris" Petersen is a college football coach, currently the head coach at the University of Washington, hired on December 6, 2013. Previously the head coach for eight ...more