Bowden, Nehlen Ranked in ESPN’s Top 150 Greatest All-Time College Coaches

Schuyler Callihan

Yesterday, ESPN released a list of the 150 greatest college football head coaches of all time. On that list, you will find former West Virginia head coaches Bobby Bowden and Don Nehlen. 

Bobby Bowden cracked the top ten of the list, checking in at number eight. Many across the country probably know him for his decades of success at Florida State, where he posted a 315-98-4 overall record, including a 22-10-1 record in bowl games, 12 ACC championships and two national titles. Bowden turned the 'Noles into a powerhouse and had a run of 14 consecutive 10+ win seasons. 

During his time at West Virginia, he collected a 42-26 record and went 1-1 in bowl games. The fan base was not pleased with Bowden at the time, calling for his firing and he ultimately accepted the offer from Florida State following West Virginia’s win over North Carolina State in the 1975 Peach Bowl. Although his run in Morgantown was rather brief, he found success and helped lay the groundwork of the future of the program. 

The legendary Don Nehlen checks in at No. 79 on the list and one could argue that’s too low. West Virginia football wouldn’t be what it is today without Nehlen. He put West Virginia on the map with two undefeated regular seasons in 1988 and 1993, including a national championship appearance in ‘88 versus Notre Dame. Nehlen was also a big part of creating the “Flying WV” logo that everyone associates with not only the university, but the state as well. 

Five years after Bowden moved on to Florida State, Nehlen began his tenure in Morgantown in 1980. He ended his career at West Virginia with a 149-93-4 record and an overall career record of 202-128-8. 

These two men helped pioneer the program in the right direction and their success will never be forgotten in the rich history of the football program.