Finding Bowden's, Paterno's place among all-time coaching legends
Last week, I fielded a question about
The fact that this is even a viable conversation topic shows exactly why college football is so unique. In nearly every other sport, it seems like whatever happened most recently automatically trumps all previous history. Commentators instantaneously deemed each of the past two Super Bowls the greatest ever. Every time
In college football, however, history isn't rewritten so easily. If anything, the greats of the '20s, '40s, '60s and so on grow more mythical with each generation. Paterno's 44 seasons at Penn State and Bowden's 34 at FSU far eclipse Bryant's 25 at Alabama. More importantly, both Paterno (383 wins) and Bowden (382) have long since passed Bryant (323) when it comes to the single most important achievement any coach can boast, and they've done it during a far more competitive era.
And yet, I can't help but agree with Mark. While it's hard to truly judge contemporaries without the benefit of distance, my guess is 20 years from now, the Bear will remain the most iconic coach in history. Perhaps it's the hat (though Paterno's specs are just as distinctive). Perhaps it's the drawl (though Bowden's accent is equally unmistakable). Or perhaps it's the fact Bryant's tough-guy aura was synonymous with the sport's overall identity for so much of its history.
Forget about championships, winning percentages and bowl games. These, to me, are the sport's five most legendary coaches from a purely subjective standpoint:
A few notable exclusions:
That's my two cents. I'm sure many of you have your own, differing opinions -- and I'm sure I'm about to receive a whole bushel full of them.
Well Zach, those may well be the prevailing perceptions in Woodlawn, Va., but I'm not sure they jibe with the rest of the country. Yes, the Hokies have had a couple late-season collapses over the years (though last season played out in almost exactly opposite fashion), but my guess is the single most "famous" thing right now about Virginia Tech football is its perpetual failure to produce even a semi-decent offense.
There's no question the Hokies have established themselves as the perennial favorites in the ACC, and "everyone knows"
To take that next step from ACC champion to legit national title contender, the Hokies need a more productive offense, period. QB
Not this year. While I expected the Wolverines to struggle last year, I never would have predicted they'd slip all the way to 3-9. Meanwhile,
The most realistic goal for Michigan this season is simply to get back on the right side of .500. Once we see what these quarterbacks are capable of, we'll have a better sense of whether they can return to conference title contention in 2010. But keep in mind: The four-time league champion Buckeyes aren't going anywhere.
I would agree Kansas, and Reesing in particular, are getting overlooked right now. To me, it's a toss-up between Kansas and Nebraska for Big 12 North favorite largely because of all the weapons the Jayhawks return on offense. Reesing, who threw for 3,888 yards, 32 touchdowns and 13 interceptions last season, has been an elite-level quarterback for two seasons now, and Briscoe very quietly emerged as the nation's fourth-leading receiver last year (1,407 yards, 15 TDs).
But the Heisman and BCS races have become almost completely and unavoidably intertwined. Reesing received plenty of attention two years ago when the Jayhawks won their first 11 games and nearly rose to No. 1 in the country, but even then his rival,
If Kansas can get back to a BCS bowl as it did in 2007, Reesing and/or Briscoe would garner Heisman attention; but that would likely mean winning 10 regular-season games, which will be a tall order with games against both Texas and Oklahoma and a road trip to Texas Tech. Remember, the Jayhawks played none of those three during their 12-1 '07 season.
Wow -- I had no idea readers held the Crush in such lofty esteem.
Wow -- I had no idea they loathed it so much, either.
My first response would be: What exactly do they have in common?
I assume you're suggesting the much-hyped Rebels are primed for a choke job on par with last year's much-hyped Tigers, and you may well be right. Teams not normally accustomed to high expectations rarely handle them well. But Ole Miss provided no shortage of tangible evidence last season to support its legitimacy, beating the eventual national champion (Florida), the defending national champion (LSU) and an 11-1 team (Texas Tech). Clemson's high ranking heading into '08 was a much bigger leap of faith. As I recall, the general sentiment was "They have
And there's the other major difference between the two. Clemson has a long history of failing to live up to high preseason expectations. We should have known better. It's hard to predict exactly how Ole Miss will react because this is largely unchartered territory for the Rebels.
Normally, when there's a high percentage of inexperienced quarterbacks in a conference, that's a pretty strong predictor the league is in for a down year. At least four Pac-10 schools (Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA, USC) will have just such a guy under center. So I may be going against common sense here, but I believe the Pac-10 will be better than it was last year. If you recall, many of the league's better teams last year -- Oregon, Oregon State and Cal -- didn't really find their groove until later in the season. I expect at least a couple of those teams to carry that momentum into this season.
Furthermore, you can't get much worse than the bottom half of that conference was last season. Washington (which will get a significant boost from QB
See, that's what I love about this show. I literally read tens of thousands of words of
For those of you who didn't understand a single word of the previous two paragraphs, I apologize. It truly is an addiction.
Georgia's coaching continuity is both rare and admirable. I'm sure many Dawgs fans were disappointed last year that their team fell short of its lofty preseason expectations, but in general, they've had it pretty good this decade, enjoying two SEC titles, three BCS berths and double-digit victories six of the past seven seasons. Richt's staff continuity during that period is no coincidence.
While there are a few elite programs -- USC, Oklahoma, Texas -- that have managed to keep trucking despite frequent staff churn, more often that's a deterrent, and many programs exacerbate the problem by panicking at the first sign of trouble. Case in point:
Well, based on my informal survey, it seems whichever way I go with the Crush, half the audience will be happy and half will be ticked.
Meanwhile, there was some pretty significant Crush-related news this week.
If I had to guess, half of you will view this as a sign it's time to move on ... and half of you will view it as the perfect excuse why we should find a new one.