February 18, 2018

Most Career Wins and No Consensus National Championship

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.

                Retired Coaches
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.

                 Active Coaches
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.