Randy Smith: ESPN's Greatest College Football Coaches?

Wednesday, December 11, 2019 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith
ESPN is no doubt the number one sports outlet in the world. Television, radio and internet make up the ways ESPN sends out news features and live games to the public. They employ a lot of people and it takes a lot of material to give all these reporters and writers something to write about. Most of the time, articles like this are great, but sometimes some of those features make absolutely no sense at all. I'm talking about the " The 150 Greatest College Football Coaches." It's on espn.com and I have no quarrel with most of their choices.
For instance, Paul "Bear" Bryant is listed as number one, Nick Saban is second, Knute Rockne third Tom Osborne fourth and Eddie Robinson is fifth.

I don't plan to list all 150 of course. Clemson's Dabo Swinney is listed 34th while Tennessee's Johnny Majors is 62nd. Now, if Tennessee fans were voting on the best coach in Volunteer history I'm sure that General Robert Neyland would be first with Majors and Phillip Fulmer fighting for the second spot. ESPN however, listed Fulmer 94th and Neyland 36th. My opinion is this: All three should be ranked higher, especially the General. If Neyland is not worthy of a top 20 selection, then nobody is. Fulmer should be ranked at least as high as Majors and both should be in the top 50. 

There are other coaches who should be ranked higher including Urban Meyer who is 46th. A record of 187-32 with three national titles is a definite top 10-15 choice. Pete Carroll is rated 37th with a record of 83-18 and two national championships. Really? Pete Carroll is nine coaches ahead of Urban Meyer?  That certainly makes no sense at all.

ESPN also listed Joe Paterno 7th and Bobby Bowden 8th even though each of those men could be rated a spot or two higher. Steve Spurrier is number 27 and right about where he should be. Of course all of this is subjective and each person has his or her own opinion. There were coaches on the list of 150 that I have never heard of before. There were Division two coaches as well as Ivy League coaches listed and I truly question whether or not those coaches should be listed with the likes of "Bear" Bryant and Bobby Bowden but that's not in the spirit of the article. The 150 best college football coaches ever. It's very subjective but fun to read.

I am proud of the fact that of those 150 coaches, I interviewed 26 of them including four of the top five. The game changes through the years and so do the coaches. But a winner is always a winner no matter whether you're first or 150th in ESPN's rankings.


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Randy Smith can be reached at rsmithsports@epbfi.com


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