Alabama Football: ‘Sporting News’ gets it right picking Coach GOATS


Sporting News continued its celebration of 150 years of college football by naming the 10 greatest coaches of all-time. Alabama football fans will be pleased.

Many Alabama football fans might think otherwise but it is not easy selecting college football’s 10 greatest coaches of all-time (GOAT). Any list of criteria will be challenged for being incomplete or invalid. It is nearly impossible to compare the achievements of head coaches from a span of competition of more than 100 years. The game has changed so much from the 19th century when it was more soccer or rugby than what we now know as American football.

Choosing to select only a Top 10 of the game’s greatest coaches guarantees debate over those left out. Perhaps that is why Sporting News used a panel to make the selections but published the selections without naming the panel.

Discussing the difficulty of the task, Sporting News writer, Mike DeCourcy said,

"How tough was it to crack the list of the 10 greatest coaches in 150 years of college football history?Walter Camp, Howard Jones, Barry Switzer, Jock Sutherland all won at least three national championships. None got a vote from Sporting News’ panel to determine the best coaches in the sport’s history. Lou Holtz, Bo Schembechler, Vince Dooley, Frank Beamer and Steve Spurrier all won more than 200 games. They weren’t mentioned, either."

A few more names of ‘why not this guy’ coaches could be added to the ones in the quote. The first architect of Alabama football national championships is one – Wallace Wade. Without even searching college football history, other names come to mind – Robert Neyland at Tennessee and Bob Devaney at Nebraska and Bernie Bierman at Minnesota.

Enough of the ‘left outs,’ let’s move on to the Sporting News list.

Top 10 College Football Coaches of All-Time

No. 10 – Frank Leahy (Boston College and Notre Dame)

No. 9 – Glen ‘Pop’ Warner (Iowa State, Georgia, Cornell, Carlisle, Pitt, Stanford and Temple)

No. 8 – Urban Meyer (Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and Ohio State)

No. 7 – Eddie Robinson (Grambling State)

No. 6 – Joe Paterno (Penn State)

No. 5 – Bud Wilkinson (Oklahoma)

No. 4 – Woody Hayes (Miami of Ohio and Ohio State)

No. 3 – Tom Osborne (Nebraska)

No. 2 – Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant (Maryland, Kentucky, Texas A&M and Alabama)

No. 1 – Nick Saban (Toledo, Michigan State, LSU and Alabama)

Use this link to read the summaries for each of the ten coaches. Alabama football fans will notice some irregularities in the Bryant and Saban summaries. Given two Alabama football coaches are ranked at the top, slight errors by Sporting News can be ignored.

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