ST. LOUIS (Football StL) -- If somebody ever gets the urge to carve a Mt. Rushmore of college football coaches, Nick Saban’s head has to be on it.
Saban coached his Alabama Crimson Tide to a second straight national title with a total dismantling of an undefeated Notre Dame team. Saban has now won three titles in the last four years, four titles in the last eight years.
The fourth came when he was coaching LSU. It took legendary coaches Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno a combined total of 80 seasons to win four national championships. Saban did it in eight. Saban’s head gets carved into the mountain.
Another Alabama coach is a no-brainer for this honor: Bear Bryant. The Bear won six national championships. It would take a very skilled sculptor to chisel away a houndstooth hat on the mountain, but it’s got to be done.
They’ll need to carve a rock for Knute Rockne. The Notre Dame coaching legend led the Irish to three national championships, and was a pioneer in teaching the college game. It’s hard to match his numbers to coaches of the modern era, but by any measure Rockne is one of the all time coaching greats.
The fourth face is a tough decision with several worthy candidates. Joe Paterno is out for obvious reasons. Woody Hayes has an argument with his five national titles but he left the game in disgrace after punching an opposing player in the neck during a game. Bud Wilkinson, Tom Osborne and Darrell Royal each won three national championships. Going way back in history, Frank Leahy won four titles with Notre Dame. Bernie Bierman won five with Minnesota. Fielding Yost won six with Michigan.
For the fourth head I’d go with Bobby Bowden. He doesn’t have as many national championships as the others, but he did win two. His 377 career wins rank him number one among all major college coaches. Eddie Robinson won 408 games at Grambling, but it’s hard to consider Grambling “major” college football. Paterno won 409, but 111 of those have been vacated. Bowden was a great coach and recruiter, and possibly the nicest man to ever walk a sideline in college sports.
I realize a compelling argument could be made for other coaches to replace Bowden on this fictional Mt. Rushmore of college coaches, but this is my mountain and that’s who I’m going with.