We at VUI pride ourselves on writing not only about politics and humor, but Southern life. One of the biggest parts of Southern life is college football. College football coaches are more popular than Governors and Senators. So, we offer our Top 9 coaches of all time. Feel free to comment and set us straight.
9)Bobby Dodd. Dodd coached Georgia Tech back in the 1950s and 1960s. His team won two national and SEC conference championships as Dodd won 165 games as coach. In addition to his wins on the field, Dodd was a humanitarian committed to his athletes off the field and the disabled. The stadium at Georgia Tech is named after him. Dodd was a giant in his time on and off the field and made Tech a national team.
8) Lou Holtz. Holtz restored Notre Dame to glory with a national championship in 1988, but his ability to make winners out of losers is what he is remembered for. Holtz coached William and Mary, North Carolina State, Arkansas, Minnesota, Notre Dame and South Carolina to bowl games. No other coach in college football has done such.
7) John Heisman. The wins and losses of Heisman's coaching career around the South and other areas is not all that impressive. What is impressive is how Heisman's ideas about the game of football set the foundation for the game as we know it. Thus, the Heisman Trophy.
6) Knute Rockne. Rockne was the coach who made Notre Dame a place of legends. His offense with its four horsemen changed the game. Rockne's willingness for Notre Dame to take on the toughest of opponents made Notre Dame a household name. Rockne's Irish made people want to pay to see the college game. His tragic death in a plane crash added to his legend. "Win one for the Gipper" and "Shake down the thunder," two quotes that symbolize Notre Dame football were Rockne's.
5) Bobby Bowden. Bowden was the awe shucks guy of our time. Rising from a little Alabama college, he formed West Virginia into a legitimate team and Florida State into a national power. Bowden won 380 plus games, dominated the ACC, won two national championships and in his heyday was the riverboat gambler with the trick play that would leave some higher ranked opponent scratching their heads.
4) Tom Osborne. Osborne did not win as many games as Bowden, but his Nebraska teams dominated the 1980s and 1990s with teams that won championships and big games. Osborne did so without any hint of scandal. Osborne went on to serve in the US Congress, and then returned to Nebraska as AD to salvage the name of Nebraska. Few in college football have their mere names mean so much.
3) Paul "Bear" Bryant. Is there any name in Southern football that means as much as Bear Bryant? The things he accomplished at Maryland, Kentucky and Texas A&M were incredible. But, it was at his alma mater, Alabama, where the Bear became a legend. Numerous national championships and big game wins were the norm under him. The Bear was also a decent man, who perhaps stayed on a year or two too long, because he was worried about the people who worked for him. The Bear's last game was a victory against Illinois in the 1982 Liberty Bowl. He went out the all time coaching win leader in Division I football. The Bear died a few weeks later. His name is still mentioned with reverence among Alabama faithful and Southern football fans.
2) Eddie Robinson. Robinson coached at then Division 1-AA Grambling State University in Louisiana, (now FCS division.) Do not let that fool you. Robinson was a great coach. Robinson's Grambling teams included some football greats and under him they won over 400 games. What is amazing about the winning ways of Eddie Robinson were the circumstances. Robinson took over the program in the heart of segregation and racism. Grambling for years got little support from the state. Yet, Robinson molded champions in men that went on the NFL, to being doctors, lawyers and teachers. Robinson taught men how to win even when life did not want them to.
1) Joe Paterno. Paterno is the only guy on our list still coaching and is at the top of it. Paterno is a class act and a proven winner. He is currently has more wins than any other major football college coach in history, which speaks for itself. But, Paterno has done so while running a clean program and never being a prima donna concerned about the money. A Ivy League man as a graduate of Brown, Paterno has always stressed the academics. Further, he has put his money where is mouth is by giving back a good bit of salary over the years to the library and other academic ventures at Penn State. There has never been a little old man with high water britches and coke bottled glasses so feared by other college football teams and coaches as Paterno. He is what is right with college football and what is so special about college sports in that the little guy you think cannot be taken seriously will work his behind off and beat you. But, like the Bear, he has the character to worry about the people around him and his players.
That sums it up...there were some honorable mentions that we will list in no order. We will discuss those of national and local interest.
Woody Hayes- Ohio State's legend. He was a student of history and men and worked hard. High blood sugar robbed him of his legend when he punched a Clemson player. But, the man was still a great mentor and coach.
Bo Schembechler- Bo never won a national championship, but won big for Michigan and was clean as they come in college sports. He was the ultimate "no BS" guy.
Vince Dooley- Dooley is a Georgia legend, and deserves it. What most do not know about Dooley is his intellect. He even served as an editorial adviser on the Clemson literary magazine.
Danny Ford_ Yes, Ford's checkered record with the NCAA is some concern, but the man was responsible for the second upper deck at Clemson and had the political knack of connecting with fans that has not been seen at Clemson since.
Joe Morrison- The ultimate man in black created the image of South Carolina as we know it with 2001 and his teams in 1984, 1987 and 1988 were among the best South Carolina ever had and the teams and the games those teams gave national powers were classics.
Others that come to mind: Steve Spurrier, Nick Saban, Frank Beamer, George Welsh, Wallace Wade, General Neyland, Mack Brown, Barry Switzer, Paul Johnson, etc.