CollegeFootballNews.com 20th Anniversary Top 20 Coaches
Who were the top 20 coaches since CFN started in 1998? No. 6 Mack Brown, Texas
CFN Era Top 20 Coaches: No. 6 Mack Brown, Texas
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.
Mack Brown, Texas (1998-2013)
Mack Brown was the right hire at the right time.
Texas might have won the 1996 Big 12 championship, but it clunked with a 4-7 follow-up and needed an important hire to take the program to another level.
Brown didn’t win much of anything big at North Carolina – it kept running into a Florida State wall – but he guided the Tar Heels to three ten-win seasons in five years and had a growing reputation as a peerless recruiter.
While the closest tie he had to Texas was coaching against the school as the Oklahoma offensive coordinator in 1984, he fit right in.
Right away he started to win in Austin, and while three straight 9-3 seasons might have seemed a bit underwhelming to a slew of Longhorn lovers desperate to get back to national title prominence, the talent level was quickly building up, and Brown at least won the Big 12 South in 1999.
In 2001 it all started to blow up, going 22-4 over the stretch with a Big 12 South title and a share of another, but two losses to Oklahoma and a whiff of a missed opportunity to play for the national title – thanks to a loss to Colorado in the 2001 Big 12 title game – didn’t sit well.
Brown was becoming known as the coach who was doing the least with the most. The talent was there, the recruiting classes were phenomenal, but in his first seven seasons he failed to win a Big 12 championship.
He had a whopper of an offense in 2003 – and lost three games.
He had a killer team in 2004 that rolled to an 11-1 record – but lost to Oklahoma and missed out on playing for the national title. But that team won the Rose Bowl, setting the tone for 2005.
Brown finally got his Big 12 title and national championship thanks to Vince Young, and he managed to win another conference title in 2009 and got to the BCS Championship – and lost to Alabama – but that was it.
There were lots of wins, plenty of draft picks, and a whole bunch of great seasons, but with just two Big 12 titles in his 16 years, there was always the sense of wanting more.
With 158 wins at Texas, ten bowl victories, and a national title – and with the program showing that it wasn’t so easy to keep it all going after he was gone – ol’ Mack did just fine.
Biggest Moment: Vince Young’s Touchdown Run In The 2006 Rose Bowl
No one would’ve blamed Brown if his Texas team lost to an epic USC team in the 2006 Rose Bowl, but his ultra-talented team not only pulled off the upset to win the national title, it did so in historic fashion.
In one of the greatest games in college football history, the Longhorns managed to stay alive as the two teams traded knockout punch after knockout punch,
After struggling to find their rhythm, USC finally went off, rocking in the second half with 28 points, getting up 38-26 on a Matt Leinart pass to Dwayne Jarrett with just under seven minutes to play.
Texas came back thanks to Young, leading the way down the field quickly and running for a 17-yard score to help the Longhorns pull within five.
All USC had to do was convert a short fourth down to run out the clock, but the Texas defense got the stuff, and Young had one last chance with just under two minutes to play.
It took a little bit to get the drive going – and a USC penalty – but Young found a groove, hitting a few midrange passes and running for a first down, but the drive bogged down on the USC eight.
On 4th-and-8 with 19 seconds to play, young glided to the right and dashed through the end zone for the national title.
Young threw for 267 yards and ran for 200 yards and two scores in the 41-38 all-timer, and Brown had his lone national championship.
Mack Brown’s Best Season: 2005
Brown might have been the coach who could recruit, but couldn’t finish it off, but Texas was also way overdue for a national title.
Brown had been fantastic over his first seven seasons – going 70-16 – but he had yet to even win a Big 12 title.
With an eight-game winning streak to close out the 2004 season, the tone was set for 2005, and the Longhorns came out roaring.
With a 25-22 win at Ohio State in the second week of the season – a loaded Buckeye team that went on to win the Fiesta Bowl – and rolled the rest of the way.
The only slight bump was a rough start in Stillwater. Oklahoma State got out to a stunning 21-9 first quarter lead and was up 28-12 at halftime, but Vince Young went off in the second half, leading the way to 22 third quarter points and 35 in the second half for the 47-28 win.
The Longhorns destroyed Oklahoma 45-12, crushed Colorado 70-3 in the Big 12 title game, and ripped up 40 points or more in every regular season game other than the Ohio State win up until the trip to the BCS Championship in the Rose Bowl.
Texas would finish 13-0, finishing up winning all their games by an average score of 50 to 16.
CFN Era Coaching Record: 27-14 in three seasons at Washington, 92-12 in eight seasons at Boise State
2016 Pac-12 Champion & College Football Playoff
2012 Mountain West Champion
2006, 2008, 2009, 2010 WAC Champion
2015 ACC Coach of the Year
2010 Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year
2006, 2009 Bear Bryant Award
CFN 20th Anniversary lists compiled by Rich Cirminiello, Pete Fiutak, Phil Harrison & Russ Mitchell