The trouble with Top 10 lists is, duh, there are only 10 spots. (Tune in next week when I suggest water is indeed wet.) In yesterday’s exhaustively unscientific rundown of my Top 10 college football coaches, there were moments when I thought, “Let’s just make this a Top 15.” But then that would have become a Top 25, and before you know it I’d have a list that includes Ron Zook.
But, in the interest of completeness, I do feel compelled to share these names with you, and — fair warning — one of them will make you throw a shoe at your computer monitor.
11. Jim Grobe, Wake Forest: Look, the guy won an ACC championship at Wake Forest, which to me is bigger than Steve Spurrier winning one at Duke when Florida State hadn’t yet joined the league. And Grobe had to outcoach the mastermind Chan Gailey to do it.
12: Jim Leavitt, South Florida: Every time I say, “There’s no way Georgia State can ever have a decent football team,” I rebut myself by thinking about USF. Leavitt started a program in 1996, has moved up from Division I-AA and has had two losing seasons in 12 tries.
13. Bobby Johnson, Vanderbilt: Another of those pure coaches, and by “pure coach” I mean a guy you could plop down in Pop Warner and know his teams would still be playing good smart football. (Grobe falls under this heading, as does Paul Johnson.)
14. Houston Nutt, Ole Miss: Were I a coach with demonstrably better personnel, Nutt’s the last guy I’d want to play. He’s the best upset guy out there, and he’s creative with personnel. This whole NFL Wildcat stuff came from Nutt’s deployment of Darren McFadden.
15. Bobby Petrino, Arkansas: Here’s where you throw the shoe. I know he ran out on the Falcons, but he’s one of the smartest coaches on any level. I mean, he nearly played for a BCS title with Louisville. Sorry to disillusion you, but not every good coach is a nice guy.
OK, and now you’re asking: Where’s Spurrier himself? (Still entertaining, but that’s it.) Where’s Randy Edsall? (He’d have been No. 16.) Chris Petersen? (No. 17.) Pat Hill? (No. 18.)
Where’s Kyle Whittingham? Mark Mangino? Mark Dantonio? Gary Pinkel? Rich Rodriguez? Bobby Bowden? Jeff Tedford? Greg Schiano? Mike Leach? Mike Gundy? Mike Bellotti? (Whoops, he retired.) Joe Paterno? Butch Davis? Tom O’Brien? Matt Hayes’ man Brian Kelly? Lane Kiffin? Rich Brooks? (OK, maybe not so much the latter two.)
All I can say is that they were, as Ryan Cameron shouts after a Hawk blocks a shot, “Inspected … and rejected.”