Roy Exum: Coaches Vs. ‘Top 25’ Foes

Thursday, August 21, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

The long-accepted measuring stick for a college football coach has been his win-loss record, with an after-glance at his win-loss record within his conference. But in Wednesday’s editions of the Wall Street Journal, writer David Everson, with the help of Stats LLC, used a much-tougher litmus test when he revealed the records of 65 major-college coaches against opponents that were ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 at the time they played.

With the start of the 2014 season one week from tonight, forget about “Cupcake U.” for a moment and let’s see what has happened when our top college coaches have faced the best teams in the country. Some of the results are telling, indeed:

THE SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE

ALABAMA – Entering his eighth season, Nick Saban is 28-12 against the Top 25 and since he got his first head coaching job at Toledo in 1990, he is 50-35 against the best.

ARKANSAS – Entering his second season, Bert Bielema is 0-6 against the Top 25 and since he got his first head coaching job at Wisconsin in 2006, he is 10-20 against the best.

AUBURN – Entering his second season, Gus Malzahn is 5-2 against the Top 25 and since he got his first head coaching job at Arkansas State, he is 5-3 against the best.

FLORIDA – Entering his fourth season, Will Muschamp is 4-11 against the Top 25. He began his head coaching career at Florida in 2011.

GEORGIA – Entering his 14th season, Mark Richt is 34-31 against the Top 25. He began his head coaching career at Georgia in 2001.

KENTUCKY – Entering his second season, Mark Stoops is 0-5 against the Top 25. He began his head coaching career at Kentucky in 2013. 

LSU – Entering his 10th season, Les Miles is 40-31 against the Top 25 and since he got his first head coaching job at Oklahoma State in 2001, he is 37-19 against the best.

OLE MISS – Entering his third season, Hugh Freeze is 2-7 against the Top 25 and since he got his first head coaching job at Lambuth in 2008, he is 2-8 against the best.

MISS. STATE – Entering his sixth season, Dan Mullen is 2-21 against the Top 25. He began his head coaching career at MSU in 2009.

MISSOURI – Entering his 14th season, Gary Pinkel is 15-34 against the Top 25 and since he got his first head coaching job at Toledo in 1991, he is 15-37 against the best.

SOUTH CAROLINA – Entering his 10th season, Steve Spurrier is 18-23 against the Top 25 and since he got his first head coaching job at Duke in 1987, he is 62-52-1 against the best. (Spurrier was a head coach in the USFL for two years before Duke and then coached in the NFL for two seasons after 12 years at Florida. He accepted the USC job in 2005.)

TENNESSEE – Entering his second season, Butch Jones is 1-6 against the Top 25 and since he got his first head coaching job at Central Michigan in 2007, he is 1-11 against the best.

TEXAS A&M – Entering his third season at Texas A&M, Kevin Sumlin is 5-6 against the Top 25 and since he got his first head coaching job at Houston in 2008, he is 8-7 against the best.

VANDERBILT – Entering his first season as a head coach, Derek Mason has never faced a Top 25 foe.

OTHER COACHES OF NOTE

OKLAHOMA – Entering his 16th season, Bob Stoops , has the most victories of the 65 teams listed. His record against the Top 25 is 50-23. Alabama’s Saban, with a higher winning percentage (.700 versus .685) has played far less games.

STANFORD – Entering his fourth season, David Shaw has the best record of all coaches at 14-4 against the Top 25 (.778). Stanford is his first experience as a head coach. (WSJ writer Everson pointed out two of Shaw’s four losses were in overtime.)

OHIO STATE – Entering his third season, Urban Meyer is 5-2 against the Top 25 and since beginning his head coaching career at Bowling Green in 2001, he is 25-12 against the best.

FLORIDA STATE – Entering his sixth season, Jimbo Fisher is 9-5 against the Top 25. He began his career as a head coach at FSU in 2010.

NOTRE DAME – Entering his fifth season, Brian Kelly is 7-7 against the Top 25 and since he got his first head coaching job at Grand Valley State in 1991, he is 15-11 against the best.

GEORGIA TECH – Entering his seventh season, Paul Johnson is 7-12 against the Top 25 and since beginning his head coaching career at Georgia Southern in 1997, he is 7-20 against the best.

CLEMSON – Entering his seventh season, Dabo Swinney is 9-13 against the Top 25. He began his head coaching career at Clemson in 2008.

LOUISVILLE – Entering his second season, Bobby Petrino is 4-5 against the Top 25 and since beginning his career at Louisville in 2003, he is 14-17 against the best.

VIRGINIA TECH – Entering his 28th season, Frank Beamer is 43-50-1 against the Top 25 and since beginning his career at Murray State in 1981, he is 43-50-1 against the best.

royexum@aol.com



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