5. Frank Leahy - Notre Dame: Held several head coaching jobs - led the "Seven Blocks of Granite (including Vince Lombardi)" at Fordham, had an undefeated team at Boston College, and led the Fighting Irish to four national championships while at Notre Dame. Implemented the famous T-formation in South Bend. Coined the phrase "when the going get's tough, the tough get going." In my opinion, Leahy is the reason Notre Dame is widely regarded as the best program in college football history (hmmm, I smell another list) and NOT Rockne, hence his spot on my list.
4. Fielding Yost - Michigan: Started his career with short tenures at Ohio Wesleyan, Nebraska, Kansas, and Stanford, but is best-known for his 24 years at Michigan. At "Meechigan (how Yost pronounced the school)," he was head coach for 24 seasons (although not consecutive) and won six national championships. His Wolverine squads had a gaudy winning percentage of .833 during the time he was head coach. His first U of M team outscored the opposition 550-0 before beating Stanford (the team he coached just one year earlier) in the inaugural Rose Bowl Game. His first five teams were so dominant, they were dubbed the "Point-A-Minute" teams.
3. Paul "Bear" Bryant - Alabama: Before leading his alma mater to gridiron greatness, Bryant coached one year at Maryland just prior to a stint at Kentucky where he led the Wildcats to their only SEC title in 1950. Then, from '54 to '57, Bryant led the Texas A & M Aggies where he earned a reputation as one tough S.O.B. for his grueling practices with his first team (the movie "The Junction Boys" was based on this team) - which would, several years later, become Southwest Conference Champions. Bryant returned to lead Alabama in 1958 because "when momma calls, you listen." At Bama, Bryant's teams won six national championships and, when he retired in 1982, he had accumulated 315 career wins (most of any coach, at the time). It bears (no pun intended) mentioning that his 1977 squad soundly beat the squad coached by my #2 in the 1978 Sugar Bowl Game 35-6, which still isn't enough to move up one spot behind Warner (but it's, honestly, damn close).
2. Wayne Woodrow "Woody" Hayes - The Ohio State University: Growing-up the son of a teacher and based on an early career in the U.S. Navy, Hayes not only emphasized the importance of education, but also incorporated a military approach to teaching the game of football. He was the head coach at both his alma mater, Dennison, and "the Cradle of Coaches," Miami of Ohio, before accepting the same position at The Ohio State University in 1951. His early teams struggled to grasp his conservative "three yards and a cloud of dust" style of offense, but that changed in 1954 when his Buckeyes won the first of five national titles they would earn under the leadership of Hayes.
Woody was the first major coach to recruit African-Americans as both players AND coaches. In addition, I believe he is the only coach to have had players win four Heisman Trophies. Hayes taught mandatory English and vocabulary classes to his freshman football players and was one of the first to use the motion picture as a teaching tool (OK - I got that from Wikipedia). Woody also spent countless hours visiting hospital patients and made yearly trips to Vietnam (on his own dime), thus living one of his favorite axioms (from Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay called "Self Reliance") - "paying forward." He was also "the subject of more varied and colorful anecdotal material than any other coach past or present, including fabled Knute Rockne." Here are a few of my favorite quotes attributed to Hayes:
"You win with people." (also the title of one of his books)
"Football represents and embodies everything that's great about this country, because the United States of America is built on winners, not losers or people who didn't bother to play."
"So many times I've found people smarter than I was ... But you know what they couldn't do? They couldn't outwork me. They couldn't outwork me!"
"Anything easy ain't worth a damn!"
"Because I couldn't go for three." (in response to being asked why he went for a 2-point conversion with a 34-point 4th Quarter lead against hated rival, Michigan)
His coaching tree is as impressive as anyone else in the history of the game, having developed the following assistants during his many years: Lou Holtz, Bill Mallory, Dave McClain, Bo Schembechler, Dick Crum, Ara Parseghian, Rudy Hubbard (one of the first black head coaches in college football), and Earle Bruce. Woody's career ended when his famous temper got the best of him and he struck Clemson's Charlie Bauman at the Gator Bowl in 1978. Although fired from the school he loved, Woody never spoke negatively about OSU or the administration. He died in 1987 and was eulogized by former president and close friend Richard Nixon.
Hayes was to college football what Lombardi was to its professional counterpart - THE coaching icon of the sport.
1. Glenn "Pop" Warner - Stanford: Tough call between Pop and Woody, but Warner's career will probably never be surpassed in terms of longevity or innovation. Held many head coaching jobs, but his first was at Georgia in the 1890's - followed by Iowa State and then Carlisle. While at Carlisle, he coached the great Jim Thorpe (#10 on my list) before going to Pittsburgh where he won three national titles. After an extended stay at Pitt, Pop took the job at Stanford and won another national title for his 1926 Indians (the Stanford nickname until the late 60's). Warner finished his career at Temple. Among his many innovations were the double-wing formation, screen pass, and applying numbers to players' jerseys.
Honorable Mention: Bo Schembechler - Michigan, Bernie Bierman - Minnesota, Pete Carroll, John McKay, and Howard Jones - USC, Knute Rockne and Ara Parsegian - Notre Dame, Darrell Royal - Texas, Amos Alonzo Stagg - Chicago, John Heisman - Georgia Tech, and General Robert Neyland - Tennessee.
On Deck: Jim Tressel - Ohio State
My name is Buckeye Savant and I'm headed to Nawlins armed with lots of Mardi Gras beads that I am not afraid to use.