Which current coaches will be College Football HOF bound one day?
The National Football Foundation announced Tuesday that Wayne Hardin and Bill McCartney will enter the College Football Hall of Fame in December. We could speculate about who may or may not get in the Hall in 2014, but let's look further down the road to which current coaches will make up the Hall of Fame classes of 2024 and 2034.
Before we start naming names, first we must understand what exactly is required to get into the College Football Hall of Fame. The National Football Foundation's criteria reads as follows: "A coach becomes eligible three years after retirement or immediately following retirement provided he is at least 70 years of age. Active coaches become eligible at 75 years of age. He must have been a head coach for a minimum of 10 years and coached at least 100 games with a .600 winning percentage."
That 10-year rule means coaches like Jim Harbaugh and Chip Kelly are out unless their NFL stays are shorter than anticipated. And the .600 winning percentage rule means that a coach like Jim Grobe, whose 2006 ACC title makes him undoubtedly the greatest coach in the modern history of Wake Forest football, could wind up on the outside looking in when all is said and done with a 106-107-1 record, even with a much higher degree of difficulty than conference-mate Jimbo Fisher.
With that out of the way, let's break this down in tiers.
Absolute, 100 Percent "Doesn't Need to Win Another Game and He's In" No Doubters
Nick Saban - 154-55-1 (.737) at Toledo, Michigan State, LSU and Alabama. Saban was a member of this tier before he even stepped foot in Tuscaloosa. Six seasons later, he can probably have his own floor named in his honor.
Urban Meyer - 116-23 (.834) at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and Ohio State. Meyer is the rare coach that has two national titles and two undefeated seasons - spread throughout three different schools - to his credit.
Frank Beamer - 258-127-4 (.668) at Murray State and Virginia Tech. Like a few other coaches on this list, Beamer's success on the football field has created prosperity for the entire university, as the Hokies have climbed from independence to the Big East to the ACC during his tenure. Eight conference championships and 13 New Year's Day bowl appearances don't hurt, either.
Mack Brown - 235-117-1 (.667) at Appalachian State, Tulane, North Carolina and Texas. One of the game's best program builders earned ultimate validation with Texas' 2005 national title. He's registered 11 seasons of double-digit wins and will enter the FBS all-time top 10 wins leaders this fall.
Bob Stoops - 149-37 (.801) at Oklahoma. The Sooners have camped out on the Big 12 championship podium since Stoops' arrival with eight conference crowns to go with the 2000 national championship.
Gary Patterson - 116-36 (.763) at TCU. The Horned Frogs have climbed from the WAC to Conference USA to the Mountain West to the Big East to the Big 12 during Patterson's tenure, making him one of the most important figures in the history of Texas Christian University. The Horned Frogs' all-time wins leader garnered 10 national Coach of the Year honors in guiding TCU to back-to-back BCS appearances, capped by a 2011 Rose Bowl win, over the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
Bill Snyder - 159-82-1 (.662) at Kansas State. At a place where four wins was a successful season, Snyder has twice put the Wildcats within a whisker of playing for a national championship. If he's not the best coach in college football history, he's in the team picture.
Steve Spurrier - 208-77-2 (.728) at Duke, Florida and South Carolina. Already in as a player, Spurrier is the winningest coach in Florida history and well on his way to becoming the same at South Carolina. If you wanted to make the case Spurrier has compiled the best career of anyone on this list, I wouldn't fight you.
Les Miles - 113-42 (.729) at Oklahoma State and LSU. Before he won the 2007 national championship and two SEC titles in Baton Rouge, Miles compiled the best winning percentage of any Oklahoma State coach since before 1950.
Brian Kelly - 199-68-2 (.743) at Grand Valley State, Central Michigan, Cincinnati and Notre Dame. Similar to Meyer, Kelly has orchestrated two national championship teams at one school and then led two different schools to undefeated regular seasons. When one of those schools is Notre Dame, with five coaches already in the Hall of Fame, you might as well go ahead and get your ring fitted.
Mark Richt - 118-40 (.747) at Georgia. With two SEC championships, a claim to six SEC East titles and two BCS bowl wins, Richt has done everything short of winning a national championship.
Larry Blakeney - 168-99-1 (.629) at Troy. Like Patterson and Beamer, Blakeney's two decades running the football program have helped raise the entire university's profile. Since Blakeney's hiring in 1991, the Trojans have risen from a Divison II independent to a member of the Sun Belt Conference, making seven I-AA playoff appearances and five bowl games (with five straight Sun Belt titles from 2006-10) along the way.
Paul Johnson - 147-65 (.693) at Georgia Southern, Navy and Georgia Tech. Johnson has won his way at each of his three stops, claiming two national titles with the Eagles, taking Navy bowls in five of his six seasons and has yet to miss a bowl in five seasons in Atlanta.
Just Biding His Time
Chris Petersen - 84-8 (.913) at Boise State. Other coaches won at Boise State before Petersen took over, but none reach the level of national acclaim that Petersen has brought to the Broncos. In seven seasons he has seven double-digit win seasons, five conference titles, two perfect seasons, three one-loss seasons and two Fiesta Bowl wins.
Nothing to Worry About, But a Top 5 Finish or Two Wouldn't Hurt
Bronco Mendenhall - 74-29 (.718) at BYU. The best coach in BYU history not named LaVell Edwards, Mendenhall has never missed the postseason in eight seasons at the helm, registering five double-digit win seasons, two Mountain West titles and three top 15 finishes. All he needs now is a signature season.
Kyle Whittingham - 71-32 (.689) at Utah. Though the Utes have yet to find their footing in the Pac-12, that by itself is a compliment to the work Whittingham's program put in while members of the Mountain West Conference. Taking over for Urban Meyer, Whittingham guided Utah to seven straight bowl seasons, including the best year in school history - a 13-0 campaign in 2008 capped by a Sugar Bowl win over Alabama and a No. 2 final AP ranking.
There's a Lot of Good There, But Is There Enough Greatness?
Frank Solich - 117-63 (.650) at Nebraska and Ohio. The Huskers never missed a bowl game in Solich's six seasons, as he took Nebraska to the national title game in the 2001 season and is still the last coach to bring a conference championship and BCS bowl win to Lincoln. Solich has also taken Ohio to three MAC championship games and five bowl games.
Gary Pinkel - 163-98-3 (.623) at Toledo and Missouri. Pinkel led Toledo to the 1995 MAC title and has since won five division championships at his two stops, but no conference crowns. He took the Tigers to eight bowls from 2003-11, peaking with a 12-2 mark and Cotton Bowl win in 2007, and the Tigers certainly wouldn't be in the SEC today without his sustained success.
Mike Leach - 87-52 (.626) at Texas Tech and Washington State. The Red Raiders went 10-for-10 on bowl appearances in Mike Leach's tenure on the South Plains, peaking with an 11-2 season in 2008, but never played in a Big 12 championship game or a BCS game. However, you can't discuss Leach without acknowledging the part he played in popularizing the most prevalent offensive system in college football today.
June Jones - 107-75 (.588) at Hawaii and SMU. If Jones takes SMU to a BCS game or its equivalent in the upcoming playoff system, he's in. If he doesn't, he's out. Jones does have a long history of involvement with the National Football Foundation that will play in his favor, though.
Paul Pasqualoni - 151-90-1 (.626) at Western Connecticut State, Syracuse and Connecticut. Pasqualoni has but one top 10 finish in his career but his resume of four Big East titles and four New Year's Day bowl games at Syracuse trumps that of his predecessor, College Football Hall of Fame coach Dick MacPherson.
"Give Us a Solid Decade Like That and We'll Talk"
David Shaw - 23-4 (.852) at Stanford. Two seasons in is far too early for projections like this, but Shaw's 11-2 debut season and 12-2, Pac-12 and Rose Bowl winning follow-up hits elbowed his way on to this list.
Mike Gundy - 67-35 (.657) at Oklahoma State. After a 4-7 opening season, the rest of Gundy's tenure has been the golden age of Oklahoma State football. The Cowboys' 49 wins since 2008 are the most in school history over a five-year span. Gundy's team came within a breath of playing for the national title in 2011 and still managed to go 12-1, winning its first outright Big 12 championship
Pat Fitzgerald - 50-39 (.562) at Northwestern. Like Spurrier, Fitzgerald is already a Hall of Fame player. Like Spurrier, Fitzgerald is the winningest coach in his alma mater's history. With his first 10-win season, bowl win and top 20 finish out of the way, Fitzgerald is on his way to duplicating other parts of Spurrier's resume as well.
Bret Bielema - 68-24 (.739) at Wisconsin. Now at Arkansas, if Bielema can come close to duplicating his three top 10 finishes and three Big Ten titles at his previous stop, the Razorback faithful will fit him with a gold-plated hog hat.
Art Briles - 67-58 (.536) at Houston and Baylor. Already a legend in the Texas high school ranks, Briles brought Houston the 2006 Conference USA title and the greatest season in at least 20 years at Baylor with the Bears' 10-3, Heisman Trophy-winning campaign in 2011. He is also the only coach in school history to lead Baylor to three straight bowl trips.
Butch Jones - 50-27 (.649) at Central Michigan and Cincinnati. Jones has won four conference titles in his six seasons as a head coach. If he can come close to duplicating that at Tennessee after the lost decade the Vols just endured, he'll be a made man in Knoxville forever. Or at least until the next season, whichever comes first.
Kevin Sumlin - 46-19 (.708) at Houston and Texas A&M. With Texas A&M's first 11-win season since 1998, first Heisman Trophy winner since 1957 and first top five finish since 1956, Sumlin's debut blew the doors off even the most maroon of Aggies' expectations.
Mark Hudspeth - 84-29 (.743) at North Alabama and Louisiana - Lafayette. If he retired today, Hudspeth would be more of a divisional candidate with 66 wins and five Division II playoff appearances at North Alabama, but you can't argue with his back-to-back 9-4, New Orleans Bowl-winning seasons in his first two years at Louisiana - Lafayette.
Still Playing Their Way Into Contention: Gary Andersen, David Cutcliffe, Mark Dantonio, Larry Fedora, Brady Hoke, Ken Niumatalolo, Rich Rodriguez, Charlie Strong, Dabo Swinney.
Add it all up and you get 29 coaches with a combined 3,449 wins. It's a good thing the Hall of Fame is moving into a larger building soon, they're going to need all the extra space they can get.