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Football Coaching Record Sausage

by NDSF, Wednesday, July 04, 2012, 06:39
edited by NDSF, Wednesday, July 04, 2012, 15:08

Several years ago there was an online debate re greatest coaches of all time. The lack of balanced schedules makes winning percentages in CFB much less reliable than in pro sports. I gathered at that time and kept updated a list of record by coaches versus teams that finished the season ranked in the AP Top Ten. Final Top Ten, not top ten at the time you played them - so you know this was a very good team on the whole body of the season. I considered this a reasonable proxy for a very high quality win. I grouped it for major coaches over their entire careers, but then slimmed it down more according to the following parameters:

The body of coaches I considered were coaches who had coached at a school for at least ten years and won a national championship at that school, and within that body, I only considered the time they were at that school and their record against teams that finished the season in the top ten. So you are getting Frank Leahy at ND, without BC, Spurrier at Fla, without the Duke record, Bowden at FSU, without the W, Va record. Seeing what they did when they were at their height, not working their way up the ladder. Obviously, it was limited to coaches who coached during the poll era - 1936 to present. I have included all but one or two coaches who fit in these parameters and a couple who do not exactly fit them, but are famous despite not winning NC's. I rank them by various elements of that data below and have some observations at the bottom.

CAREER WINNING % VERSUS AP FINAL TOP TEN (AT LEAST TEN YRS AT SCHOOL + AN NC)

1. Leahy (ND) .659 13-6-3
2. Switzer (Okla) .544 18-15-1
3. Stoops (Okla) .473 9-10-0
4. Bryant (Ala) .472 17-19-1
5. Holtz (ND) .469 15-17-1
6. Parseghian (ND) .447 7-9-3
7. Devaney (Neb) .447 7-9-1
8. Blaik (Army) .444 7-8-2
9. Carr (Mich) .423 11-15-0
10.Royal (Tex) .416 14-20-2
11.Tressell (OSU) .411 7-10-0
12. Spurrier (Fla) .394 13-20-1
13. Hayes (OSU) .372 14-25-4
14. Wilkinson (Okla) .368 7-12-0
15. McKay (USC) .363 10-19-4
16 James (Wash) .354 11-20-0
17. Dooley (Ga) .354 11-20-0
18. Bowden (FSU) .351 22-41-1
19. Robinson (USC) .347 8-15-0
20. Dodd (Ga Tech) .340 7-23-1
21. Osborne (Neb) .326 16-33-0
22, Daugherty (MSU) .319 11-24-1
23. Crisler (Mich) .315 6-13-0
24. Fulmer (Tenn) .314 11-24-0
25. Donahue (UCLA) .279 8-23-3
26. Brown (Texas) .240 6-19-0
27. Broyles (Ark) .218 7-25-0
28. Schembechler (Mich) .214 7-27-1
29. Paterno (PSU) .210 12-45-0

Obviously, these are tough games to win - only two coaches on the list have winning records, but some who are considered "great" are notable for their very poor records compared to the group. Schembechler, Paterno and Mack Brown really stand out for their low winning percentages. Ara won as many games against top ten teams in eleven years at ND as Schembechler did in 21 at Michigan.

WINS PER YEAR AGAINST TOP TEN TEAMS

1. Holtz (ND) 1.36 per year (11 yrs)
2. Leahy (ND) 1.18 per year (11 yrs)
3. Switzer (Okla.) 1.15 per year (16 yrs)
4. Spurrier (Fla.) 1.125 per year (12 yrs)
5. Carr (Mich) .846 per year (13 yrs)
6. Parseghian (ND) .772 per year (11 yrs)
7. Royal (Tex.) .750 per year (20 yrs)
8. Bryant (Ala.) .700 per year (25 yrs)
9. Tressell (OSU) .700 per year (10 yrs)
10.Stoops (Okla) .692 per year (13 yrs)
11.Robinson (USC) .666 per yr (12 yrs)
12.Bowden (FSU) .661 per season (34 yrs)
13.Fulmer (Tenn) .647 per year (16.5 yrs)
14.Osborne (Neb.) .640 per season (25 yrs)
15.Devaney (Neb.) .636 per year (11 yrs)
16.McKay (USC) .625 per year (16 yrs)
17.James (Wash) .611 per year (18 seasons)
18.Daugherty (MSU) .605 per year (19 yrs)
19.Crisler (Mich.) .600 per yr (10 yrs)
20.Hayes (OSU) .500 per year (28 yrs)
21.Dooley (Ga.) .440 per year (25 yrs)
22.Brown (Texas) .428 per year (14 yrs)
23.Wilkinson (Okla.) .412 per season (17 yrs)
24.Donahue (UCLA) .400 per yr (20 yrs)
25.Blaik (Army) .444 per year (18 yrs)
26.Broyles (Ark.) .368 per yr (19 yrs)
27.Schembechler (Mich.) .357 per year (21 yrs)
28.Dodd (Ga. Tech) .318 per yr (22 yrs)
29.Paterno (PSU) .304 per year (46 yrs)

Some observations - one could argue that among successful coaches at major powers, Holtz was one of the greatest "quality win" coaches ever. Others, not so much. In eleven years at ND, Holtz won more top ten games than Paterno did in 46 years at PSU. In 16 years at Oklahoma, Switzer won more than Schembechler did in 21 at Mich. As much as we rag on Lloyd Carr, he played and won an awful lot of quality games against tough competition.

TOP TEN TEAMS PLAYED PER SEASON AT SCHOOL MOST ASSOCIATED WITH

1. Holtz (ND) 3
2. Spurrier (Fla) 2.85
3. Fulmer (Tenn) 2.12
4. Switzer (Okla) 2.12
5. McKay (USC) 2.06
6. Leahy (ND) 2
7. Carr (Mich) 2
8. Robinson (USC) 1.92
9. Daugherty (MSU) 1.89
10. Royal (Tex) 1.8
11. Brown (Tex) 1.78
12. Parseghian (ND) 1.72
13. James (Wash) 1.72
14. Donahue (UCLA) 1.7
15. Bowden (FSU) 1.7
16. Tressell (OSU) 1,7
17. Schembechler (Mich) 1.67
18. Broyles (Ark) 1.6
19. Crisler (Mich) 1.58
20. Osborne (Neb) 1.56
21. Devaney (Neb) 1.54
22. Hayes (OSU) 1.53
23. Stoops (Okla) 1.46
24. Bryant (Ala)1.42
25. Dodd (Ga Tech) 1.41
26. Paterno (PSU) 1.365
27. Dooley (Ga) 1.24
28. Wilkinson (Okla) 1.12
29. Blaik (Army) 1

Once again, the tremendous difficulty of the schedules Holtz played stands out - by far tougher than the slate of any other dominant coach during his golden age at a major power. Even with Holtz's high winning percentage and number of wins versus top ten teams, it is plain that ND did schedule itself out of at least one championship in that period. And check out the weakness of the competition in the Wilkinson record-setting days and throughout Paterno's half-century of coaching. Spurrier has played a ton of tough games as did Switzer.

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