Marshall: College Football's Top 10 Coaches

Columnist Phillip Marshall ranks his picks for the Top 10 college football coaches and why they deserve to be there. He also explains why he thinks other high profile coaches are not deserving of being in the top group.

It seems to be popular these days among some of my colleagues to create lists--the 10 best of this, the 10 worst of that.

One list that got a lot of attention in recent days was the College Football News' rankings of the top coaches in college football. There is no really accurate way to compile such a list, of course. Any fan could make a list that would have as much validity as one made by me or anybody else.

There are so many variables. Some schools can make an average coach look great. Others can make a great coach look average. But since it's summer and there's not a whole lot going on, here is my list of the top 10 coaches in college football:

1. Pete Carroll, USC. He has two national championships, one near miss and produced a 34-game winning streak. Nobody else coaching in college at the moment can come close to matching that.

2. Mack Brown, Texas. I know. I know. Up until the last couple of years, he had all kinds of trouble beating Oklahoma. But he hasn't had a lot of trouble beating anybody else.

Auburn will face Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks in a Thursday night game in Columbia this season.

3. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina. We all know what Spurrier did at Florida. A lot of us wondered how he would cope at South Carolina, which isn't nearly as blessed in a lot of ways. He coped by getting the Gamecocks within one win of the SEC Championship Game.

4. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma. The Sooners weren't good last season, but Stoops has one national championship and has had them in the running almost every season. A lot of schools passed him over when he was defensive coordinator at Florida because they wanted someone with head coaching experience. A lot of them wish they hadn't. A 75-16 record in seven seasons says it all.

5. Tommy Tuberville, Auburn. Tuberville doesn't have a national championship, but he has that 13-0 season in 2004. Getting more votes in a poll doesn't make one coach better than another. Tuberville took over a program in terrible shape, stayed the course and has made Auburn a national force again. Winning or sharing five of six division championships is a feat matched only by Spurrier at Florida.

6. Mark Richt, Georgia. Richt has two SEC championships in five seasons at Georgia, but he has struggled against major rivals Auburn and Florida.

7. Jeff Tedford, California. He took a program that was a perennial loser and turned it into a national contender. No. 7 might actually be too low, but it's hard to say because the Pac-10 is so weak top to bottom.

Cal's Jeff Teford will take on Phil Fulmer's Tennessee Vols this season.

8. Phillip Fulmer, Tennessee. Despite last season's meltdown, Fulmer has a national championship, a couple of SEC championships and enough wins to make him a sure-fire Hall of Famer.

9. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech. He did it in the Big East and he's done it in the ACC. Beamer is no spring chicken, but he seems to have lost little if any of his fire.

10. Bobby Bowden, Florida State. Not so long ago, he'd have been considered for No. 1. The Seminoles have lost some of their pop, but something tells me Bowden isn't done yet.

NOTICEABLY ABSENT:

*Urban Meyer, Florida. Winning big at Utah and Bowling Green was nice, but he'll have to do more than go 9-3 at Florida to convince me.

Charlie Weis, Notre Dame. No coach ever got so much adulation for going 9-3 at Notre Dame and not beating a single decent team. He may be the second coming of Knute Rockne, but he still has it to prove.

*Jim Tressel, Ohio State. He's won a national championship and his team is an annual contender, but I believe the evidence indicates he doesn't run a clean program.

*Joe Paterno, Penn State. The Nittany Lions were good last season, but they've only been to two bowl games this century. I believe Paterno's best days are behind him.

*Les Miles, LSU. I know the Bayou Bengals had a fine season under difficult circumstances, but many close to the program question whether Miles will be able to keep it going.

*Larry Coker, Miami. He might deserve better. Coaches at Miami are held to a terribly high standard.

*Kirk Ferentz, Iowa. Frankly, I've never understood what it is about this guy that gets so many so excited. CFN ranked him No. 4.

*Rich Rodriguez, West Virginia. Another big year and he'd have to make anybody's list.

So there you have it. Yet another list that means, well, not much of anything.


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