In a few short weeks, the 2011 college football season will kickoff. As with the start of every season, the same question on minds of fans, alumni and the media is “Who will be the season’s national champions?”
Many of the game’s winningest coaches have won titles; while a number of successful leaders have done well during the seasons, they just can’t seem to as the old cliché’ states: ‘Win the Big One!’
Four of college football’s winningest retired coaches—ones with at least 200 victories—never won an Associated Press (AP) title—as they have combined for 468 all-time wins; but none as a national championship coach.
Bo Schembechler won 234 games in a career that began in 1963 at Miami of Ohio; as it would end in 1988 as coach of the Michigan Wolverines; but no title.
Amazingly, of the 10 coaches that won at least 180 on this list, three have ties to the Big 10 Conference.
Two wins back of Schembechler is former Iowa Head Coach Hayden Fry; while John Cooper, who retired in 2000 after leading Ohio State to 111 of his 192 career victories, is 42 wins behind.
Don Neehlan, a former assistant under Schembechler, and Jim Sweeney are the other members with 200 career wins and no title; winning 202 and 200, respectively.
Joe Glenn, who last coached at Wyoming in 2008, is on this list as well. He did win titles at Northern Colorado in 1996-97 (NCAA II) and a 2001 NCAA 1-AA crown at Montana; two years before accepting the Wyoming job.
Coach Seasons Wins
Bo Schembechler 1963-88 234
Hayden Fry 1962-98 232
Don Nehlen 1968-2000 202
Jim Sweeney 1963-77,80-96 200
John Cooper 1962-2000 192
George Welsh 1973-2000 188
Joe Glenn 1976-79,89-2008 188
Dennis Franchione 1981-82,85-2007 187
Dick Tomey 1977-2009 183
Jackie Sherrill 1976-89,91-2003 180
Among active coaches, Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer leads the way. He has been a successful coach during his career; recording 240 triumphs—the most of any coach without a title, both active and retired.
Chris Ault, who began his career in 1976 and has retired twice only to comeback, has won 219 career victories; which is second on the active list and fourth all-time.
Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly and Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson are on the active Bowl Sub Division list of coaches without a crown, but both have won titles in divisions below BSD.
Johnson won back-to-back crowns with NCAA 1AA power Georgia Southern, in 1999 and 2000; while Kelly led one of the best NCAA II schools, Grand Valley State, to the 2002 and 2003 championships.
Coach Current Team 1st Year Wins
Frank Beamer Virginia Tech 1981 240
Chris Ault Nevada 1976 219
Brian Kelly Notre Dame 1981 178
Mike Price UTEP 1981 169
Larry Blakeney Troy 1991 160
Bill Snyder Kansas State 1989 149
Gary Pinkel Missouri 1991 150
Houston Nutt Ole Miss 1993 132
Paul Johnson Georgia Tech 1997 133
Tommy Tuberville Texas Tech 1995 110
Tex Noel is the Executive Director of the Intercollegiate Football Researchers Association.