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The Best Active College Football Coaches - CFB Playoff Style

Ranking the top college football coaches heading into the 2014 college football bowl season


In 2007 College Sports Fans took a look at the best active college football coaches highlighting the long-time winners like Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden as well as then up-and-coming names like Greg Schiano and Rich Rodriguez. Wow have things changed. It used to be that every school thought they have the best college football coach; well every school with a winning team and tradition. But then along came the Nebraska Cornhuskers where they seemingly have lost touch with reality after first firing Frank Solich after 6 seasons and a 58-19 record, then Bo Pelini after 7 years and a 66-27 mark.

Our take this time around is much different than your standard, over-done Top 10 list that we are guilty of in the past. This Top Active College Football Coaches list will take on the format of the College Football Playoff and Selection Committee Bowls - a top 4 playing for the title of #1, and four other match-ups of top-tier coaches who are just outside of the Top 4. Unlike the College Football Playoff we are not going to be bound by conference affiliations but we will throw in a few connections with the bowls. Some will be obvious choices while others, like every name after #1 and #2, are more difficult choices or still making their name. Either way, we hope you enjoy. is a leading provider of NCAA Tournament content, future sites, College Football bowl game historic data, future schedules, data and more, so you will see a few links below to our bowl game content. We encourage you to browse and see all that we have here and enjoy the following.

And now, without further ado, the Top Active College Football Coaches list:

"Playoff Selection Committee Bowls"

These are the best coaches ranked from number 5 through 12, in no particular order. Mind you that this is heading into the 2014 college bowl season thus we may be prisoners of the moment like the rest of sports world. That having been said, these spots could easily change a year from now when we update the best coaches list once again.

Cotton Bowl Classic - A bowl game with historic Big 12 and SEC ties, given the geography and conference affiliation, TCU's Gary Patterson seems appropriate to get the first spot in this match-up. Patterson's opponent in our version of the "Cotton Bowl" is Steve Spurrier of South Carolina. Spurrier gets the invite based on his legacy more than this past season, but three consecutive 11-2 seasons in 2011-2013 shows that 2014 should not be cause for overreaction as the Spurrier resume is one of college football's best.

Fiesta Bowl - The Fiesta Bowl and the Big 12 have been connected for years during the BCS era, so it seems fitting that Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops gets one of the spots in our "Fiesta Bowl" given his team's frequent visits to Gelndale, AZ for the actual bowl game itself. Opposite Stoops is Arizona's Rich Rodriguez. After tremendous success at his alma mater WVU, Rodriguez' teams improved each year at Michigan, but it was not enough for the Maize & Blue. In 2012 he took over at Arizona where his teams went 8-5 in both of his first two years before their breakthrough season in 2014 where the Wildcats won the Pac-12 South and have a 10-3 record heading into the real Fiesta Bowl opposite Boise State.

Orange Bowl - Classically connected to the ACC, one of the best coaches in the game today is Jimbo Fisher at Florida State. While Fisher and Heisman winning QB Jameis Winston are connected at the hip, so are many of the great coaches throughout the history of college and pro football. In our Orange Bowl match-up we are pitting Fisher against Brian Kelly of Notre Dame. Chris Petersen of Washington almost took this spot, but when compared to the resume of Brian Kelly we had to go with the head man for the Irish. Kelly built Central Michigan into a dominant force in the MAC, Cincinnati into a national contender and has returned Notre Dame to some of their past glory despite academic restrictions none of the others listed here have to deal with.

Peach Bowl - The Peach Bowl has been historically tied to the SEC and ACC, but we're heading in the direction of the Big 12 as Baylor's Art Briles nearly had his team in the first College Football Playoff this season. It's only fitting that we leave him just on the outside, looking in on our Top College Football Coaches list. The Bears now have five straight winning seasons under Briles after being the cellar-dweller of the Big 12 and they seem to only be getting better. His opponent in our "Peach Bowl" is an SEC mainstay in Les Miles of LSU. Miles' LSU teams have appeared in two BCS National Championship Games winning in 2007 while winning 10+ game seven times in 10 years.

Nothing says bragging rights like a Fathead!

College Football Playoff - Top Four Coaches

Rose Bowl - Historicaly, the Rose Bowl has been tied to the Big Ten, and Ohio State's Urban Meyer has the resume to make our Top Four placing as the #2 seed in our rankings. While a Pac-12 coach would be the best fit in terms of history, we're keeping things in the B1G with Michigan State head man Mike Dantonio. Historically, Michigan has been the big name in the Big Ten opposite Ohio State, but MSU's success under Dantonio is nothing short of spectacular, and the Spartans seem to inch closer to college football's elite each year.

Sugar Bowl - This year's Sugar Bowl pits the top seed against the number four seed. Staying true to that format the #1 seed Alabama and head coach Nick Saban remain closely tied atop the college football world. However his opponent at #4 will not be the coach of Ohio State; Urban Meyer is across the bracket in the other playoff semifinal. At #4 Bill Snyder of Kansas State has done more with less than likely any coach in college football history. In 23 total seasons in Manhattan, KS, Snyder has built the program twice scoring 9+ wins in 13 different seasons.


"The Best College Football Coaches" was written by Michael Shull, Guest Writer.

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