CollegeFootballNews.com 20th Anniversary Top 20 Coaches
Who were the top 20 coaches since CFN started in 1998? No. 10 Jimbo Fisher, Florida State
CFN Era Top 20 Coaches: No. 10 Jimbo Fisher, Florida State
CollegeFootballNews.com is turning 20 this season, so we’re looking back on the greatest players, games, coaches and more since we first kicked things off back in 1998.
Wins and losses are certainly a part of it all – okay, a massive part of this – but it’s also about who came up with the biggest coaching performances over the long haul. Consistency matters, championships matter, and personality plays a role, too.
Who are the 20 coaches who defined college football since 1998?
One note, accomplishments before 1998 don’t count, other than when it comes to a coach’s legacy and overall status.
Jimbo Fisher, Florida State (2010-2016)
Could Florida State really and truly ramp it all back up after the phenomenal success of the Bobby Bowden era?
The Seminoles didn’t crash and burn late in the Bowden era, but they weren’t the same. The annual national championship threat was gone, the program got used to going to mediocre bowl games, and the glory days were long gone.
But even with the issues at the end of the Bowden era, offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher was one of the nation’s hottest head coaching prospects.
Known as a superstar quarterbacking tutor, Fisher helped make the LSU passers rock for both Nick Saban and Les Miles. When the time came to take over the FSU job after three years as an assistant, he was more than ready.
Almost instantly, Florida State started to look the part again, with a terrific 10-4 first season under Fisher with an appearance in the ACC Championship and a Chick-fil-A Bowl win. But Fisher needed one more year to get everything in place for something special.
From 2012 to 2014. Florida State won three straight ACC titles, and a national championship, with Fisher going 39-3 over the run.
There was plenty of controversy – hello, Jameis Winston – but there was a whole ton of production from a program that kept pace even with the rise of Clemson.
The Seminoles have won ten games or more in six of the first seven years in the Fisher era, have come to own Florida and Miami, and are 5-2 in bowl games.
And Fisher might be just getting started.
Biggest Moment: Jameis to Kelvin
The Seminoles needed an all-timer of a drive to win the national title.
Down 31-27 to Auburn late in the 2014 BCS Championship, FSU had 80 yards and just over a minute to get a touchdown.
And Jameis Winston came through.
He found Rashad Greene for two passes, dinked for a few completions to get down to the Auburn 12, and after a few short passes and a pass interference call in the end zone, had a 1st-and-goal play on the two with 13 seconds to play.
Calmly, Winston dropped back, waited for Kelvin Benjamin to come across the back, and boom. With a high pass to his tall receiver, Winston threw the national title-winning touchdown pass, and gave Fisher his top-line resume victory.
(You can’t see me, but I’m on the field on the goal line for this … )
Jimbo Fisher’s Best Season: 2013
Is wasn’t all rosey.
With a massive controversy around Winston, Fisher had to deal with more than just trying to take his phenomenally talented team to the national title.
On the field, there weren’t any problems until the BCS Championship against Auburn. Winston was amazing from the opening weekend win over Pitt – rolling with ease to the Heisman – and no one came closer than 14 points in dominant win after dominant win.
How good was the 2013 Florida State team? Boston College lost 48-34. The next closest margin of victory until Auburn was 28 points in the 41-13 win over Pitt.
After it was all over, Fisher’s Noles finished 14-0, outscoring teams 723 to 170. Throw in the way it all ended with the historic national title-winning drive, and outside of the Winston issues, it was a dream season.
Jimbo Fisher’s Worst Season: 2011
And it really wasn’t all that bad – at least after the first five games.
Losing to Oklahoma wasn’t the end of the world, and dropping a 35-30 shootout at Clemson hurt, but was acceptable. A 35-30 loss to Wake Forest for a 2-3 start?
But the defense rebounded in a bit way, not allowing more than 19 points in any game over the last eight on a 7-1 run. There was a win over Miami, a win over Florida, and a Champs Sports Bowl victory over Notre Dame to finish 9-4.
But it was a young and talented team with a world of upside. The next season, FSU would win the ACC title and the Orange Bowl.
CFN Era Coaching Record: 78-17 in seven years
Three ACC Championships, four ACC Atlantic titles, one BCS Championship
CFN 20th Anniversary lists compiled by Rich Cirminiello, Pete Fiutak, Phil Harrison & Russ Mitchell
Photo Credit: Florida State University