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The Best College Football Coaches of All Time

Updated June 15, 2020 55.4k votes 7.4k voters 134.0k views119 items

List RulesOnly 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!
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    Nick Saban is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
    2,369
    1,419

    Nick Saban

    Age: 69
    Nicholas Lou Saban Jr. (; born October 31, 1951) is an American football coach who has been... more
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  • 2
    Bear Bryant is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
    2,205
    1,577

    Bear Bryant

    Dec. at 70 (1913-1983)
    Paul William "Bear" Bryant (September 11, 1913 – January 26, 1983) was an American college... more
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  • 3
    Tom Osborne is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
    1,638
    1,421
    Thomas William Osborne (born February 23, 1937) is a former American football player, coach,... more
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  • 4
    John Heisman is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
    502
    398

    John Heisman

    Dec. at 67 (1869-1936)
    John William Heisman (October 23, 1869 – October 3, 1936) was a player and coach of American... more
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  • 5
    Dabo Swinney is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
    376
    221
    William Christopher "Dabo" Swinney (born November 20, 1969) is an American college football... more
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  • 6
    Robert Neyland is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
    453
    423

    Robert Neyland

    Dec. at 70 (1892-1962)
    Robert Reese Neyland ( NEE-lənd), MBE, (February 17, 1892 – March 28, 1962) was an American... more
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  • 7
    Knute Rockne is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
    1,153
    1,018

    Knute Rockne

    Dec. at 43 (1888-1931)
    Knute Kenneth Rockne ( kə-NOOT; March 4, 1888 – March 31, 1931) was a Norwegian-American... more
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  • 8
    Pop Warner is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
    531
    495

    Pop Warner

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  • 9
    Bill Snyder is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
    618
    569
    Bill Snyder (born October 7, 1939) is a retired college football coach and former player. He... more
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  • 10
    Jimmy Johnson is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
    700
    659
    James William Johnson (born July 16, 1943) is an American football broadcaster and former... more
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  • 11
    Bob Stoops is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
    589
    541

    Bob Stoops

    Age: 60
    Robert Anthony Stoops (born September 9, 1960) is an American football coach who serves as... more
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  • 12
    Johnny Majors is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
    203
    154
    John Terrill Majors (born May 21, 1935) is a former American football player and coach. A... more
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  • 13
    Mike Leach is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
    110
    68

    Mike Leach

    Age: 59
    Michael Charles Leach (born March 9, 1961) is an American college football coach, the head... more
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  • 14
    Ara Parseghian is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
    585
    555
    Ara Raoul Parseghian (; May 21, 1923 – August 2, 2017) was an American football player and... more
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  • 15
    Lou Holtz is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
    847
    846

    Lou Holtz

    Age: 83
    Louis Leo Holtz (born January 6, 1937) is a former American football player, coach, and... more
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  • 16
    Urban Meyer is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
    1,145
    1,203
    Urban Frank Meyer III (born July 10, 1964) is a former college football player and coach.... more
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  • 17
    Vince Lombardi is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
    255
    87

    Vince Lombardi

    Dec. at 57 (1913-1970)
    Vincent Thomas Lombardi (June 11, 1913 – September 3, 1970) was an American football player,... more
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  • 18
    Frank Beamer is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
    446
    429
    Franklin Mitchell Beamer (born October 18, 1946) is a retired American college football coach,... more
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  • 19
    Steve Spurrier is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
    838
    778
    Stephen Orr Spurrier (born April 20, 1945) is a former American football player and coach... more
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  • 20
    Hayden Fry is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
    184
    152

    Hayden Fry

    Age: 91
    John Hayden Fry (born February 28, 1929) is a former American football player and coach. He... more
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  • 21
    Bo Schembechler is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
    895
    880

    Bo Schembechler

    Dec. at 77 (1929-2006)
    Glenn Edward "Bo" Schembechler Jr. ( SHEM-bek-lər; April 1, 1929 – November 17, 2006) was an... more
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  • 22
    Bud Wilkinson is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
    725
    666

    Bud Wilkinson

    Dec. at 78 (1916-1994)
    Charles Burnham "Bud" Wilkinson (April 23, 1916 – February 9, 1994) was an American football... more
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  • 23
    Bill Walsh is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
    84
    49

    Bill Walsh

    Dec. at 76 (1931-2007)
    William Ernest Walsh (November 30, 1931 – July 30, 2007) was an American football coach. He... more
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  • 24
    Woody Hayes is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
    1,043
    1,043

    Woody Hayes

    Dec. at 74 (1913-1987)
    Wayne Woodrow Hayes (February 14, 1913 – March 12, 1987) was an American football player and... more
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  • 25
    Joe Paterno is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best College Football Coaches of All Time
    1,400
    1,450

    Joe Paterno

    Dec. at 86 (1926-2012)
    Joseph Vincent Paterno (; December 21, 1926 – January 22, 2012), sometimes referred to as... more
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