College Football: Best coaches for a team turnaround

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports /
2 of 2
College Football
Military Bowl Cincinnati Bearcats Vs Virginia Tech Hokies /

Lane Kiffin – Florida Atlantic and Ole Miss

Kiffin has yet to sustain success anywhere, but his turnarounds at Florida Atlantic and Ole Miss cannot be ignored.

The Owls’ all-time win record is 44.7%. In Kiffin’s three seasons, FAU won 66.7%.

In the four seasons, before Kiffin arrived in Oxford, Ole Miss won five, six, five and four games. Last season Ole Miss was 10-3, with Kiffin’s wi record at the school at 63.6%, compared to the Ole Miss history of 54.7%.

Luke Fickell – Cincinnati Bearcats

In five seasons at Cincinnati, Luke Fickell’s teams have won 76.2%, compared to the program’s history of 52.1%. Though the Bearcats were no match for the Crimson Tide, making the Playoff was a major accomplishment, as was the 2022 NFL Draft.

A strong argument can be made if this list was ranked, Fickell would be No. 1.

Note: Head coaching records were retrieved from Sports Reference.

Nick Saban is a College Football Turnaround Guy Too

Some Alabama fans may wonder why Nick Saban was not on this list. His turnaround of the Crimson Tide was spectacular, but it is so well known, it did not warrant a re-telling in this post.

Next. 30 Greatest Games in Crimson Tide History. dark

That 11-win Kentucky season mentioned above was in 1950, with the Wildcats coached by Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant. In almost three decades of Kentucky football before Bryant, the Wildcats’ most success was six wins, four times. Four and five-win seasons (and worse) were common. Bryant’s fourth Kentucky team won nine games and his fifth, in 1950 was 11-1, beating No. 1 ranked Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl. That is the definition of a turnaround.