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As the NBA playoffs drone on for months and regular season baseball still hasn’t reached the one-fourth point, let’s discuss America’s favorite sport: football. Here are the four best, and perhaps not coincidentally, most frat coaches in the game today:
4. Jim Harbaugh
As much as it pains me to say it, the maniac in Ann Arbor is a generational type of coach. Sporting one of the five best winning percentages in the history of the NFL, ahead of names like Vince Lombardi and Bill Belichick, Harbaugh is the only coach in NFL history to lead a team from a top ten draft pick to the conference championship game in his first season.
Amassing an unheard of winning percentage of 70 percent, three consecutive NFC Title game appearances, and one of the worst non-calls in NFL history (4th & goal during Super Bowl 2013 when Jimmy Smith assaults Crabtree) from a Lombardi Trophy, Harbaugh had arguably the most successful first four years as an NFL coach of all time.
At the collegiate level, Harbaugh has shown an uncanny ability to put out dumpster fires, starting with perennially terrible (since the Elway era) Stanford. In Harbaugh’s third full season, the Cardinal won more games than the previous three seasons prior to his arrival combined.
Now back “home” with the Michigan Wolverines, Harbaugh took Iowa castoff Jake Rudock and a cast of Wolverines largely comprised of the same Brady Hoke-led 2014 squad that missed a bowl for just the third time in 40 years to 10-3 and a resounding Citrus Bowl win against SEC East Champion Florida.
Harbaugh, who may be the most interesting man in college football, secured the top overall prospect in the nation for 2016 (defensive tackle Rashan Gary) and has the once forgotten Wolverines ranked in the pre-season top 5 for the first time since 2007.
Harbaugh will be a major irritant for Mr. Curmudgeon in East Lansing, and the NCAA Regulations Office, for years to come. Looking forward to this year’s “totally not recruiting related” satellite camp tour, Coach.
Challenging authority, winning, and then totally exploiting the loophole you’ve found. TFM.
3. Jimbo Fisher
Replacing a legend is difficult, and completely surpassing him in five seasons is absolutely unheard of. But that is what Jimbo Fisher has accomplished, taking over a Florida State program literally founded under retired coach Bobby Bowden.
Fisher, the former Offensive Coordinator of LSU under then-coach Nick Saban, inherited a program quite similar to late years Penn State under Joe Paterno. The Seminoles, though dominant for decades, perhaps best accentuated from the early 1990s to the turn of the century, averaged nearly five losses per season in the four preceding Fisher’s arrival.
Since then, however, Fisher has posted the best first five-year winning percentage in the history of the Atlantic Coast Conference, won Florida State’s third national title in the last half-century, and sent more players to the NFL than any other five-year span in program history.
Fisher, who has closed a top ten recruiting class every season as a head coach, has averaged over ten wins per season as the Seminoles head man, utilizing his status as a quarterback “guru” to groom two of the last nine first overall picks (Jameis Winston, Jamarcus Russell while at LSU) and three first-round quarterbacks overall during his tenure at FSU.
No program has ever had three consecutive starting quarterbacks drafted in the first fifteen overall picks outside of Tallahassee, a streak that ended just last season with Notre Dame transfer Everett Golson.
Compiling a winning percentage over 90 percent against key rivals Florida and Miami, Fisher has established the Seminoles as the Sunshine State’s perennial power in a way never before matched, even during the prime of the Bowden era.
With two more five-star quarterbacks on the roster, and a defense returning nine starters, the Seminoles will again challenge for a national title.
2. Urban Meyer
He’s the only coach in college football history to post ten plus win seasons at four different schools (Bowling Green, Utah, Florida, Ohio State). Wherever Meyer goes, he wins big.
Coach Meyer, who now holds the highest winning percentage of any Big 10 coach since Fritz Chrysler for rival Michigan (or should I say “the school up north”) over a century ago, what Urban is doing to the Big 10 has never been seen in modern college football.
Meyer, who’s much-maligned tenure at Florida resulted in not one but two national championships, has not posted a season of fewer than ten wins in nearly a decade, having lost only two regular season Big 10 games in his four seasons with the Buckeyes.
The Buckeyes have become the Alabama of the North, claiming a top five recruiting class every season since Meyer’s arrival, while defeating archrival Michigan in “The Game” every year by an average of 23 points.
While Coach Harbaugh and the Wolverines harbored playoff hopes in his inaugural season, Meyer and the Buckeyes handed Michigan its worst home loss to Ohio State in nearly a half-century, defeating the school up north 42-13.
Ohio State, having lost more early departures to the NFL draft than any school in the history of the modern draft format, are still expected to contend for a national title behind junior quarterback JT Barrett, a testimony to the incredible stockpile of talent Meyer and his staff have recruited to Columbus.
Urban and the coach ranked number four on this list will reprise the “Ten Year War” of Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes, likely trading wins and Big 10 titles, reasserting the “Big 2” of the Big Ten.
Sorry, Spartans. Mike D’antoni (errr I’m sorry that’s not his name) just doesn’t compare to the titans of the Big Ten East located in Columbus and Ann Arbor.
1. Nick Saban
Nick Saban, as much as it pains me to say it, might be the greatest coach alive today, college or pro. Having completely rebuilt a pathetic Michigan State program, winning LSU’s first national title in a century, and creating the NFL factory that is the Alabama Crimson tide of the last decade, Saban is seemingly unstoppable.
Coach Saban has led the Crimson Tide, who had fallen off remarkably since the days of Bear Bryant, struggling to an average of eight total wins under coaches Mike Shula and Dennis Franchione, to an average of eleven wins per season since 2010, the highest of any team in the modern era.
Seemingly a foregone conclusion, Saban has won an SEC title in almost three-fourths of his seasons, and appeared in a national title game in almost half, winning a total of five (one at LSU).
The Crimson Tide have placed more players in the NFL in the past five drafts than any program ever, while perhaps not coincidentally securing a top five consensus recruiting class every season since “Saint” Nick’s arrival.
Coach Saban, looking to repeat last season’s national championship, again sports perhaps the nation’s best defense, a dynamic offense led by coordinator Lane Kiffin, and seven players currently projected in the top 50 for the 2017 NFL Draft. It will be another incredible season in Tuscaloosa.
Fun fact: West Virginia Coach Rich Rodriguez was offered, and accepted in principle, the Alabama job ahead of Coach Saban, only to later recant his commitment after financial concessions were made by the administration of West Virginia.
Saban, the coach of the Miami Dolphins at the time, accepted the offer from the Crimson Tide, starting one of the most successful runs in the history of organized football. Rodriguez left West Virginia the following year for the University of Michigan, where he was fired after the worst three-year run for the Wolverines football program since World War II, and their first consecutive missed bowl games in the history of the program.
Fuck, is it football season yet?.
Image via YouTube