This article has been floating around for almost two weeks now, but since I haven't read anything about it here at RBR, I thought I might bring you this completely pointless yet vastly significant food for thought. SI writer Stewart Mandel received a question from a Las Vegas resident about Bowden's and Paterno's respective places in the pantheon of college football coaching. Mandel responded in part by publishing his own top five all-time coaches list. There's obviously only one right answer for the greatest coach in history, but the other four spots could be debated 'til the cows come home.
At any rate, here's the link to Mandel's article, as well as my own top five list after the jump. And of course, feel free to ponder and post your own list. It's still the off-season, after all.1. Coach Paul 'Bear' Bryant - If you really need to read a defense of this response, go read The Last Coach.
2. Eddie Robinson - Mandel skirts this issue by including Robinson on a list of notable exclusions, and it's sure to be the most controversial pick on my list, but Coach Rob is the 'Bear' Bryant of black college football. Eddie Robinson was every bit the father figure to his players that Coach Bryant was to his, won more games, and was friends with the man as well. From the way they spoke about each other, my guess is that Bryant would've ranked him at least this high.
3. Bud Wilkinson - Bama fans like myself like to point out how much longer Paterno and Bowden have coached than Coach Bryant did when discussing their career win totals. What we all fail to mention is that, if Bud Wilkinson hadn't retired at 47, Coach Bryant may have never owned the record at all. (note: as a lifelong loather of OU football, I hate to type this at all, much less post it for others to read. I have to continually remind myself that, from what I've read, Wilkinson was a class act and nothing like the slimy and snide OU coaches of the 80s, 90s, and 00s).
4. Knute Rockne - Mandel explains why he ranks him at #2, and I've got little to add...other than a reminder of his relationship to Coach Frank Thomas, and hence, Coach Bryant.
5. Joe Paterno - He may have been 0-4 against Coach Bryant, but that's the only shot I'll take at Joe Pa. The man not only owns more victories than any D1 coach ever, but he's got at least as many gripes as Bryant did about having teams overlooked by the voters at the end of a season. He may be crotchety, but he's got class, and he's been imparting it for almost 50 years.
So, there it is. Almost 100% pure opinion, with very little fact for those of you on a fact-free diet. Enjoy.