Cal Football: Two Cal Coaches Among ESPN's Top 150 College Coaches of Alltime

Pappy Waldorf was a big enough name to appear with Bob HopePhoto courtesy of Cal Athletics

Jake Curtis

Cal has not been a national football power for a while, but there was a time the Bears had coaches that made them feared by every team in the nation.

ESPN last month ranked the 150 greatest college football coaches of alltime in celebration of the 150th aniversary of college football.

This elite list of former and current coaches was selected by a panel of 150 media members, administrators and former players and coaches, but still leaves plenty of room for debate. Afterall how to you compare a coach from 1919 to one in 2019?

Former Alabama coach Bear Bryant was No. 1 on the ESPN list, and current Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban was No. 2. And it goes on from there with the likes of Knute Rockne, Tom Osborne and on and on.

But Cal was also represented in this top-150 list with two of its former coaches. Without reading further can you guess who those two were?

Was Jeff Tedford on the list after getting Cal into the top-25 on a regular basis and earning a share of the Pac-10 title in 2006? 

Or how about Bruce Snyder, whose 1971 Bears finished with a No. 8 national ranking, still Cal's highest season-ending ranking since 1950?

Stub Allison led Cal to an undefeated season, a No. 2 final ranking and a Rose Bowl victory in the 1937 season. That was the last time Cal won a Rose Bowl game. Did he make it?

The answer to those three is no, no and no.

But two former Cal coaches did make it, and, in our humble opinion, one of them should have been ranked higher than he was.

Here are the two that made it, preceded by their ranking in the ESPN list of the Greatest Coaches of Alltime and followed by their record, then comments by ESPN and us:

No. 68 -- Lynn "Pappy" Waldorf 

Walforf Richter Olszewski
Pappy Waldorf (left) with star players Les Richter (67) and Johnny Olszewski -- Photo courtesy of Cal Athletics

Record: Oklahoma City (1925-27; 17-11-3), Oklahoma A&M (1929-33; 34-10-7), Kansas State (1934; 7-2-1), Northwestern (1935-46; 49-45-7) and California (1947-56; 67-32-4)

What ESPN said about Waldorf: "Few coaches rebuilt downtrodden programs quite like Waldorf. In 1925, he inherited an Oklahoma City team that had won one game in three years. He won five in his second season and eight in his third. Oklahoma A&M went 1-7 the season before he arrived. His teams went 34-10-7, won four conference titles and never lost to Oklahoma. In his only season at Kansas State, the Wildcats won their first league championship. When Waldorf was named California's coach in 1947, the Bears hadn't had a winning season since 1938. Cal went 9-1 in his first season, and the Bears went 29-3-1 over the next three and won Pacific Coast Conference titles."

What we can add: Under Waldorf Cal played in its first bowl game in 11 years when it participated in the 1949 Rose Bowl (following the 1948 season). The Bears were 10-0 and ranked No. 4 but lost to No. 7 Northwestern, which was 7-2 and had been coached by Waldorf just a few years earlier. Northwestern won the game 20-14, but Bears fans complained one of Northwestern’s touchdowns should not have counted since it appeared the ball-carrier had fumbled before crossing the goal-line. We rated one of Cal's most significan bowl games.

Waldorf led Cal to three straight Rose Bowl berths, following the 1948, 1949 and 1950 seasons. The Bears lost all three. Cal went 5-14-1 in his final two seasons and he retired after the 1956 season amid allegations of a recruiting scandal, although an investigation revealed that Waldorf was not directly involved.

And the final Cal coach on the list . . . 

No. 137 Andy Smith

any smith
Andy Smith (left, with the cap) and his entire coaching staff. (Is one guy checking his cell phone messages?) -- Photo courtesy of Cal Athletics

Record: Penn (1909-12; 30-10-3), Purdue (1913-15; 12-6-3), California (1916-25; 74-16-7)

What ESPN said about Smith: "Smith was impressive at Penn and Purdue. But try to find a better five-year run in college football history than the one he had at Cal from 1920-24. It's almost impossible. Those so-called "Wonder Teams" didn't lose a single game, finishing 44-0-4."

What we can add: Smith was Cal's coach in the Bears' greatest bowl game of alltime -- the 1921 Rose Bowl (following the 1920 season). Cal's stunning 28-0 upset of Ohio State changed the way the nation looked at West Coast football. The Bears finished that 1920 season 9-0 and outscored opponents 510-14. The next season, Cal went to the Rose Bowl with an 8-0 record, but played Washington & Jefferson to a 0-0 tie in the mud in the 1922 Rose Bowl.

With Smith's record and accomplishments at Cal, you'd think he'd be ranked considerably higher than 137th. Perhaps his record at Penn and Purdue pulled him down a bit, but in our mind Smith should be among the top 50 coaches of alltime, and, yes, ahead of Waldorf.

Andy Smith
Andy Smith (far right) and members of his 1922 Cal team

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