Not all college football jobs are created equal. Some schools have inherent advantages. Resources, geography, tradition. Some schools also create their advantages.
That’s where stability comes in. Schools that constantly change coaches face problems. Of course, sometimes it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Do schools change coaches because they aren’t successful, or are schools not successful because they change coaches?
And some schools lose coaches not only because they aren’t successful, but because they are. Bigger fish pirate them away.
But I’ve made a list of all the power-conference schools and how many coaches they’ve employed since World War II. Generally, the schools with the most coaches have not been all that successful. The schools with the fewest coaches have been successful. Let’s look at the lists.
1. GEORGIA 6: The Bulldogs have had six coaches since hiring Wally Butts in 1939. That’s outstanding. Georgia’s long-timers were Butts (22 years), Vince Dooley (25 years) and Mark Richt (14 years). No other school has two 20-years-plus coaches.
2. PENN STATE 6: This number is even more amazing when you consider the Nittany Lions had just two coaches over 61 years. Rip Engle 1950-65 and Joe Paterno 1966-2011. But PennState also hired Bob Higgins in 1930, and he stayed on the job through 1948. What puts Penn State below Georgia is that two Nittany coaches (Joe Bedenk 1949 and Bill O’Brien 2011-12) stayed two seasons or less.
3. MICHIGAN 8: When the Wolverines fired Rich Rodriguez after three seasons (2008-10), they broke convention. Of their six previous coaches, five lasted at least 10 years — Fritz Crisler 10, Bennie Oosterbahn 11, Bump Elliott 10, Bo Schembechler 21, Gary Moeller five, Lloyd Carr 13.
4. OHIO STATE 8: Woody Hayes lasted 24 years, Earle Bruce nine, John Cooper 13 and Jim Tressel 10. That’s solid.
5. VIRGINIA TECH 8: Frank Beamer’s been on the job 27 seasons. But Bill Dooley lasted nine years and Jerry Claiborne 11 years.
6. TEXAS 9: The Longhorns have had four double-digit season coaches. Dana X. Bible (1937-46), Darrell Royal (1957-76), Fred Akers (1977-86) and Mack Brown (1998-2013).
7. AUBURN 9: I would say Auburn is the most underrated job in America. Look at this way. The last four Auburn coaches have either had an undefeated season, played for a national title or won a national title. And the guy before them was Pat Dye, who stayed 12 years. And Shug Jordan coached 25 seasons at Auburn.
8. MISSOURI 9: Bet you’re surprised to see Mizzou. But Don Faurot was hired in 1935 and stayed through 1956 (not counting some World War II interruption). Then Dan Devine coached 13 years and now Gary Pinkel has done the same.
9. SYRACUSE 9: The long-timers are Ben Schwartzwalder (25 years), Dick MacPherson (10) and Paul Pasqualoni (14).
10. IOWA 9: The Hawkeyes have had just nine coaches since 1938. Heck, Iowa’s had just two head coaches since 1978. Hayden Fry made it 20 years and Kirk Ferentz has gone 15.
11. CLEMSON 9: Frank Howard was hired in 1940 and coached 30 seasons. So that helps. So does Danny Ford’s dozen years.
12. FLORIDA 10: Strange. Florida was more stable before it exploded into a nationally-elite program. Bob Woodruff coached 1950-59, Ray Graves 1960-69, then Doug Dickey 1970-78. Then Steve Spurrier arrived, created a monster and coached 12 years.
13. WISCONSIN 10: Another stable place even when things aren’t Rosy Bowl. Sure, Barry Alvarez made it 16 years, but Harry Stuhldreher (one of Notre Dame’s four Horsemen) coached 1936-48, Milt Bruhn 1956-66 and Dave McClain 1978-86.
14. SOUTHERN CAL 10: The Trojans are remarkably stable. Ten coaches since 1941, yet only John McKay (1960-75) reached double digits. Pete Carroll went nine, Jeff Cravath eight, Jess Hill seven and John Robinson seven the first time around.
15. OREGON 10: Even when the Ducks weren’t great, they were stable. Len Casanova coached from 1951-66, then Rich Brooks from 1977-1994. Finally, Mike Bellotti went 1995-2008.
16. OKLAHOMA 10: The Sooners have had three 15-year coaches. Bud Wilkinson (1947-63), Barry Switzer (1973-88) and Bob Stoops (1999-2014). OU’s also had three one-year coaches — Jim Tatum 1946, Jim Mackenzie 1966 and Howard Schnellenberger 1995.
17. MICHIGAN STATE 10: The Spartans have had just two double-digit coaches (Duffy Daugherty 1954-73) and George Perles (1982-95). But Biggie Munn lasted eight, and Mark Dantonio has made it seven.
18. GEORGIA TECH 10: Bobby Dodd (1945-66) is the godfather. Other chunks were George O’Leary (1994-2001) and Bill Curry (1980-86).
19. NEBRASKA 10: Bob Devaney (1962-72) and Tom Osborne (1973-97) stabilized things. Until then, the Huskers were floundering.
1. PITTSBURGH 18: The Panthers have a decent program but have by far the most coaches since World War II. And unlike some of the other schools, Pitt doesn’t have a coach who crosses into the war days. That’s 18 coaches in 67 years. Todd Graham was the fourth Pitt coach to stay just one year. Four others stayed just three seasons. Johnny Majors (first time around) was one of five Pitt coaches to stay just four years.
2. STANFORD 16: The problem with Stanford’s propensity to get NFL coaches is that Stanford’s coaches like to bolt for the NFL themselves. Jim Harbaugh went to the 49ers after four years, Dennis Green to the Vikings after three years, Bill Walsh to the 49ers after two years, John Ralston to the Broncos after eight.
3. VANDERBILT 15: Bobby Johnson coached eight years (2002-09). Woody Widenhofer somehow made it seven seasons (1995-2001). So did George McIntyre (1979-85). But a whole bunch of short tenures dot the Vandy landscape.
4. KANSAS 15: KU had some promise for awhile. Glen Mason coached nine years (1988-96) and Mark Mangino eight (2002-09). And Jack Mitchell made it nine (1958-66). But Don Fambrough twice coached KU and went four years both times. Pepper Rodgers left after four years. Bud Moore was fired after four years.
5. CALIFORNIA 14: Jeff Tedford coached 10 years (2002-11). The 30 years before that, no Cal coach made it more than five.
6. WAKEFOREST 14: Between Peahead Walker (1937-50) and Jim Grobe (2001-13), the Deacons had 11 coaches.
7. WASHINGTON STATE 14: You go through a lot of coaches when other schools come after your coach. Dennis Erickson coached two years before going to Miami. Warren Powers coached one year before going to Missouri. Jackie Sherrill coached one year before going to Pitt. Forest Evashevski coached two year before going to Iowa.
8. MARYLAND 14: The Terrapins hired noted job-hopper Lou Saban in 1966. He stayed one year. Serves them right.
9. ARIZONA 14: Some decent runs. Mike Stoops made it eight years (2004-11), Dick Tomey 14 (1987-2000), Jim LaRue eight (1959-66) and Miles Casteel 10 (1939-48).
10. TEXAS A&M 14: R.C. Slocum (1989-2002) and Homer Norton (1934-47) were long-timers. But otherwise, College Station has not been all that stable.
11. INDIANA 14: Bo McMillin coached 14 years (1934-48), then Lee Corso (1973-82) and Bill Mallory (1984-96) added stability, too. But IU lost Sam Wyche to the Bengals after just one year.
OTHERS OF NOTE
KANSAS STATE 13: KSU has been rather stable considering how much it usesd to lose. Jim Dickey lasted seven years, Vince Gibson eight, Doug Weaver seven, Bus Mertes five. That’s not bad for a chronic loser.
OKLAHOMA STATE 12: Pat Jones coached 11 years (1984-94) and Jim Lookabaugh (1939-49) did the same. Mike Gundy can catch them in two years.
TEXAS TECH 12: Tech once was completely stable. Dell Morgan coached 10 years (1941-50), DeWitt Weaver 10 (1951-60), J.T. King nine (1961-69). Then Tech had five coaches in 17 years before Spike Dykes.
BAYLOR 12: Only Grant Teaff (1972-93) and John Bridgers (1959-68) have made it to double digits.
TCU 11: The Frogs had two coaches from 1934 through 1966 (Dutch Meyer and Abe Martin). Now Gary Patterson approaches his 15th season.