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Top 10 Most Overrated Coaches in College Football History

The most overrated coaches in college football history
Publish Date: 02/17/2024
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa
Former Georgia Tech football coach Bobby Ross. AJC file photo

A week ago, I did an article on the top 20 coaches in college football history; today, I am doing the most overrated. Let me say these coaches are all very good at coaching football, but this list is for good coaches who get rated as great coaches when their accomplishments don’t match the myth of their coaching abilities.

10) Brian Kelly

Kelly earned his rep as a Division II coach while at Grand Valley State, and he did a great job at Cincinnati turning the Bearcats into a National Contender. Too bad he bailed before the Sugar Bowl against Florida, hanging his team out to dry. He snuck off to Notre Dame.

While Kelly led Notre Dame to victories against overrated opponents like USC, he also lost every other key game on their schedule. Kelly could win you nine games a year, but he could never compete with the elite teams in the country. Finally he did to Notre Dame what he did to Cincinnati, he disappeared.

Kelly is having decent success at LSU but he will always have the same problem, he will never consistently beat the best teams in the country and he will be fired in the next two years.

Video: Brian Kelly stabs Cincinnati in the back

Brian Kelly stabs Cincinnati in the back

9) Tommy Tuberville

The amazing love and devotion so many people have for Tommy Tuberville is a mystery to me.

Regardless of where he has coached, be it Mississippi, Auburn, Texas Tech or Cincinnati, success has been a relative term.

His best performance was at Auburn, where he won just one conference title in ten seasons. Winning bowl games is great, but how many SEC teams are really shooting for a Citrus Bowl berth when the season begins? After a massively disappointing 5-7 2008 season at Auburn, Tuberville resigned to take some time off.

He resurfaced at Texas Tech in 2010 in the wake of the Mike Leach saga, and was a .500 coach. Now, he is the coach at the University of Cincinnati and has been mildly successful, coaching in a lesser conference. Maybe he can win eight games a season and keep his job.

Video: Tommy Tuberville and other racist college football coaches | Google is Free

Tommy Tuberville and other racist college football coaches | Google is Free

8) Lloyd Carr

Lloyd Carr is by no means a bad coach, and his interviews (especially on-field interviews) are the stuff of legends.

But for all of the praise poured on Carr at Michigan, you would have thought he never lost a game.The fact of the matter is that Carr lost plenty of games, including to one Appalachian State in what was supposed to be his grand national championship send-off season.

Carr coached Michigan for 13 seasons, far fewer than so many other coaches of legendary status, and posted a record of 122-40 with five Big Ten titles (just two outright), and one national co-championship (shared with Nebraska).

Carr also posted a 5-7 bowl record, including a 1-3 mark in BCS bowls and a 1-4 mark in the all-important Rose Bowl.

Video: Hey Fuck Lloyd Carr

Hey Fuck Lloyd Carr

7) Charlie Weis

Charlie Weis is probably one of the most disappointing coaches in the history of college sports.

Touted as an offensive genius, Weis was plucked from the New England Patriots to take over a Notre Dame program in desperate need of some success.

At first, things seemed to be headed in the right direction. Weis led the Fighting Irish to a pair of BCS bowls in his first two seasons in South Bend (both losses).Then, things started to go south.

Over the next three seasons, Weis was a combined 16-21 before finally being fired after a 35-27 record over five seasons.

After licking his wounds for a season, Weis was picked up by Will Muschamp to take over as offensive coordinator for the Florida Gators in 2011.

Despite Florida’s less-than-successful campaign, Weis was hired as the new head coach at Kansas, taking over in time for the 2012 recruiting cycle. At Kansa Weis lasted two year and went 4-20 before being fired, so much for the genuis. Notre Dame is one of the Top 10 College Football programs of all-time, no thanks to Charlie Weiss!

Video: Charlie Weis injury

Charlie Weis injury

6) R.C. Slocum

The story of R.C. Slocum at Texas A&M is the classic story of almost, but not quite.Those four words probably sum up his coaching career best, as the Aggies were never quite able to reach a truly lofty national level under Slocum.

Despite three straight SWC titles from 1991 to 1993, the Aggies lost each successive Cotton Bowl, and never finished higher than No. 7 in the final AP Poll.

In all, Slocum’s Aggies were just 3-8 in bowl games during Slocum’s 14 season career.

The Aggies won just one Big 12 title after the conference reinvention in 1996, but again failed to win the resulting BCS 1999 Sugar Bowl invite.

5) Gene Stallings

First, despite his great win percentage at Alabama, he was just 97-61-2 when his Texas A&M record (27-45-1) is taken into account.

Secondly, even his years at Alabama (70-16-1) were marked by controversy, as his official record is actually 62-24-0, after the Tide were forced to forfeit (not vacate) eight games from the 1993 season after it was discovered that an Alabama player was ineligible because he had signed with a professional agent.

Stallings was implicated in the ensuing NCAA investigation, and the team was placed on probation which included forfeiting 30 scholarships. The team did not fully recover until Nick Saban arrived on campus. Stallings is not one of the greatest college football coaches of all time, but a couple of other Bama Coaches were.

Video: Back When Alabama Was TERRIBLE at Football

Back When Alabama Was TERRIBLE at Football

4) Johnny Majors

For a big-name coach who led a couple of big-time programs, Johnny Majors has a surprisingly average record.

Majors got his start at Iowa State before moving to Pitt, where he guided the Panthers to the 1976 national championship.

After that season, he headed to Tennessee, where he helped rebuild that program into an SEC contender, eventually winning three conference crowns before heading back to Pittsburgh.

Funny enough, if you take away his national championship year and his three SEC title seasons, the rest of his 29-year coaching career doesn’t look so great.

His final record of 185-137-10 tells much of the story, and it’s likely the only reason he’s revered so at Pitt and Tennessee is the few fleeting moments of glory to which he’s attached.

In the end Majors did a great job of getting programs turned around, his shortcoming was his lack to keep the programs he coached at the top for an extended period of time.

Video: Johnny Majors Tribute Video

Johnny Majors Tribute Video

3) Vince Dooley

After coaching at Georgia for 25 seasons, a quick glance at Vince Dooley’s record shows us two things.

One, under Dooley, UGA won a national championship for the 1980 season.

Two, there were an awful lot of awful seasons mixed in there.

Other than the 1980-1984 span, UGA finished ranked in the final AP Top 25 in back-to-back seasons just once (1975-1976) before Dooley’s final two seasons.

And while Dooley’s teams won at least a share of six SEC titles during his tenure, his teams also finished between fourth-or-worse ten times sprinkled across his career.

A national championship is nice, but sustained success over the long haul is even better. Dooley was an ordinary coach, a good thing a man named Herschel Walker came along.

Video: Far beyond football | Vince Dooley's legacy at UGA

Far beyond football | Vince Dooley’s legacy at UGA

2) Charles McClendon

While his 137-59-7 record looks pretty solid on the surface, scratch a little deeper, and you’ll discover that all of those seasons (18) amounted to just one SEC championship (1970) and not even a whiff of a national title.

LSU’s best finish under McClendon was that 1970 SEC Championship season, when the 9-3 Tigers lost the Orange Bowl, and found themselves No. 7 in the final AP Poll. LSU has had some great players and McClendon did coach some of them. Top 10 LSU Tigers of all time is an impressive list!

Video: LSU football highlights 1970-82

LSU football highlights 1970-82

1) Bobby Ross

Pretty much throughout his career (including his pro stints), Bobby Ross seemed to enjoy a modicum of success surrounded by seasons of mediocrity.

He began his college coaching career at The Citadel, where he was a paltry 24-31. After a few seasons as an NFL assistant, he returned to the college game, this time in the FBS with Maryland.

Ross put together his best tenure with one team, leading the Terps to three-straight ACC titles from 1983 to 1985, but he ended his stop in Maryland with a 5-5-1 record in 1986.

He was hired by ACC rival Georgia Tech, where he began with a 2-9 record in 1987 before achieving his greatest coaching success, a national championships with the Yellow Jackets in 1990.Still, Ross was just 31-26-1 in five seasons at Georgia Tech.

Ross then spent the next eight seasons as an NFL head coach before landing at Army in 2004.

After three pitiful seasons with a combined 9-25, Ross finally called it quits and retired. Ross coached over 200 college games and won exactly half.

Video: Former NFL Head Coach Bobby Ross on Character

Former NFL Head Coach Bobby Ross on Character

Honorable Mentions

Rich Rodriguez

Rodriguez had a great run at West Virginia. Then, he was the hottest coach in College Football, which led to Rodriguez taking the Michigan job, which he turned out to be a complete failure at.

Les Miles

Les Miles is often listed among overrated coaches. Popular belief holds that he won his 2007 national title with Nick Saban’s players; but this overrating goes much deeper.

Miles’s inexperienced game management, particularly regarding timekeeping, is widely known. Miles has crashed and burned since 2007.

Kirk Ferentz

Ferentz has done a nice job at Iowa, but offensive issues have plagued this team for years. The defense is always good, and the defense is always anaemic Ferentz made his son his offensive coordinator and it got so bad that he was forced to fire his own son. He will be next if he doesn’t get the offensive issues fixed.

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