Sports

The Best College Football Coaches of All Time 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
Updated June 15, 2020 61.7k votes 7.3k voters 132.6k views 119 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
Nick Saban is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Age: 68
Nicholas Lou Saban Jr. (; born October 31, 1951) is an American football coach who has been the head football coach at the University of Alabama since 2007. Saban previously served as head coach ...more
2
Bear Bryant is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Dec. at 70 (1913-1983)
Paul William "Bear" Bryant (September 11, 1913 – January 26, 1983) was an American college football player and coach. He was best known as the head coach of the University of Alabama ...more
3
Tom Osborne is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Age: 82
Thomas William Osborne (born February 23, 1937) is a former American football player, coach, college athletics administrator, and politician from Nebraska. He served as head football coach of ...more
4
Knute Rockne is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Dec. at 43 (1888-1931)
Knute Kenneth Rockne ( kə-NOOT; March 4, 1888 – March 31, 1931) was a Norwegian-American football player and coach at the University of Notre Dame. Rockne is regarded as one of the greatest ...more
5
Urban Meyer is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Age: 55
Urban Frank Meyer III (born July 10, 1964) is a former college football player and coach. Meyer served as the head coach of the Bowling Green Falcons from 2001 to 2002, the Utah Utes from 2003 ...more
6
Woody Hayes is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Dec. at 74 (1913-1987)
Wayne Woodrow Hayes (February 14, 1913 – March 12, 1987) was an American football player and coach. He served as the head coach at Denison University (1946–1948), Miami University in Oxford, ...more
7
Bill Snyder is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
DerekBurton added Age: 80
Bill Snyder (born October 7, 1939) is a retired college football coach and former player. He served as the head football coach at Kansas State University from 1989 to 2005, and again from 2009 ...more
8
Pop Warner is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Pop Warner
9
Dabo Swinney is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Age: 50
William Christopher "Dabo" Swinney (born November 20, 1969) is an American college football coach. He is the head football coach at Clemson University. Swinney took over as head coach ...more
10
Lou Holtz is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Age: 82
Louis Leo Holtz (born January 6, 1937) is a former American football player, coach, and analyst. He served as the head football coach at The College of William & Mary (1969–1971), North ...more
11
Bo Schembechler is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Dec. at 77 (1929-2006)
Glenn Edward "Bo" Schembechler Jr. ( SHEM-bek-lər; April 1, 1929 – November 17, 2006) was an American football player, coach, and athletics administrator. He served as the head ...more
12
John Heisman is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Dec. at 67 (1869-1936)
John William Heisman (October 23, 1869 – October 3, 1936) was a player and coach of American football, baseball, and basketball, as well as a sportswriter and actor. He served as the head ...more
13
Bud Wilkinson is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Dec. at 78 (1916-1994)
Charles Burnham "Bud" Wilkinson (April 23, 1916 – February 9, 1994) was an American football player, coach, broadcaster, and politician. He served as the head football coach at the ...more
14
Joe Paterno is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Dec. at 86 (1926-2012)
Joseph Vincent Paterno (; December 21, 1926 – January 22, 2012), sometimes referred to as JoePa, was an American college football player, athletic director, and coach. He was the head coach of ...more
15
Robert Neyland is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Dec. at 70 (1892-1962)
Robert Reese Neyland ( NEE-lənd), MBE, (February 17, 1892 – March 28, 1962) was an American football player and coach and officer in the United States Army, reaching the rank of brigadier ...more
16
Jimmy Johnson is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Age: 76
James William Johnson (born July 16, 1943) is an American football broadcaster and former player, coach, and executive. He served as the head football coach at Oklahoma State ...more
17
Steve Spurrier is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Age: 74
Stephen Orr Spurrier (born April 20, 1945) is a former American football player and coach often referred to by his nickname, the "Head Ball Coach". Steve Spurrier was born in Miami ...more
18
Barry Switzer is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Age: 82
Barry Layne Switzer (born October 5, 1937) is a former American football coach and player. He served for 16 years as head football coach at the University of Oklahoma and 4 years as head coach ...more
19
Bobby Bowden is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Age: 90
Robert Cleckler Bowden (born November 8, 1929) is a retired American football coach. Bowden is best known for coaching the Florida State Seminoles football team from the 1976 to 2009 seasons. ...more
20
Ara Parseghian is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Age: 96
Ara Raoul Parseghian (; May 21, 1923 – August 2, 2017) was an American football player and coach who guided the University of Notre Dame to national championships in 1966 and 1973. He is noted ...more
21
Bob Stoops is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Age: 59
Robert Anthony Stoops (born September 9, 1960) is an American football coach who serves as head coach and general manager of the Dallas Renegades. He was the head football coach at the ...more
22
Vince Lombardi is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Saltine.RedNeck added Dec. at 57 (1913-1970)
Vincent Thomas Lombardi (June 11, 1913 – September 3, 1970) was an American football player, coach, and executive in the National Football League (NFL). He is best known as the head coach of the ...more
23
Frank Beamer is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Age: 73
Franklin Mitchell Beamer (born October 18, 1946) is a retired American college football coach, most notably for the Virginia Tech Hokies, and former college football player. Beamer was a ...more
24
Eddie Robinson is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Dec. at 88 (1919-2007)
Eddie Gay Robinson Sr. (February 13, 1919 – April 3, 2007) was an American football coach. For 56 years, from 1941 to 1942 and again from 1945 to 1997, he was the head coach at Grambling State ...more
25
Darrell Royal is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
Dec. at 88 (1924-2012)
Darrell K Royal (July 6, 1924 – November 7, 2012) was an American football player and coach. He served as the head coach at Mississippi State University (1954–1955), the University of Washington ...more