Who are the 10 best coaches in college football? The list starts after Nick Saban (right) and Urban Meyer.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – To everything that Nick Saban and Urban Meyer have achieved in college football over the last two decades, don't forget this:
They have ruined the stories about picking the game's two best coaches.
There's no reason to ask. Saban is first. Meyer is second – and I'm not certain Meyer can flip the script even if his Ohio State team is the one that stops the Crimson Tide from winning Bama's third straight BCS title.
So let's move to questions that will start an argument:
Who is the game's third-best coach? Which guys belong in the Top 10?
I asked the members of the WDRB Sports team – Eric Crawford, Tom Lane, Steve Andress and John Lewis – to help me pick the 10 Best Coaches in the Game. Everybody voted 1-through-10, and I added the points. Only 14 guys got mentioned.
Saban on top – unanimous. Meyer runner-up – unanimous. But who's third? And fourth? And …
Here are the results. I'll count them down from 10-to-1, with all five ballots at the bottom of the story.
10. Charlie Strong, Louisville; David Shaw, Stanford (tied with 7 points): You know Strong's story. Waited forever to get his chance and immediately directed Louisville to three straight bowls. Primed to be a player on the national scene this season – and beyond with U of L shifting to the ACC in 2014.
Great things are also expected from Shaw, who has won 23 of 27 games (including the Rose Bowl) in the two seasons since he replaced Jim Harbaugh. Another top five finish is predicted this season, which will either move Shaw up the list or into the NFL.
9. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma (8 points): All Stoops has done is guide the Sooners into eight BCS level bowl games during 14 seasons at Oklahoma. He won a national title in Year Two and played for another in 2008.
What has Stoops done for us lately?
Gone 10-3 in back-to-back seasons and failed to finish in the Top 10. For $4.3 million, is that enough? I wonder.
8. Bill Snyder, Kansas State (9 points): The Wildcats were the Indiana of their league before Snyder arrived. They were the Kentucky of the Big 12 after Snyder watched Ron Prince wreck his delicate creation in 2006.
Snyder will be 74 in October, but he only needed three seasons to put Kansas State back in the Top 25 and a fourth to make the Fiesta Bowl. I've been to Manhattan, Kan., and I'm not convinced Lou Holtz, Bear Bryant and Knute Rockne could do that if they were on the same staff.
7. Bobby Petrino, Western Kentucky (17 points): If Petrino wins at WKU the way he won at Louisville and Arkansas, he won't be in Bowling Green long enough to hang all his pictures in the offense. His teams score, entertain and win. Folks at WKU have been thrilled by his work.
6. Brian Kelly, Notre Dame (20 points): Bob Davie could not do it. Tyrone Willingham whiffed. Charlie Weis was a colossal waste of money, unless you enjoy hot air.
Kelly brought the Fighting Irish back into the national conversation last season, even if the conversation ended with Notre Dame being the punch line in Alabama's 42-14 win in the BCS final.
Brian Kelly will win a national title at Notre Dame. There I said it. And I believe it.
5. Chris Petersen, Boise State (27 points): It's tough to question his 84-8 record and Fiesta Bowl wins over Oklahoma and TCU.
But until Petersen does it on a grander stage, it will be difficult for him to climb on this list.
4. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina (33 points): It wasn't supposed to take this long for the Head Ball Coach to make a serious push for a national title in Columbia. He needed seven seasons to finish Number One at Florida. This is year nine with the Gamecocks, and he's made one SEC title game.
He's had plenty of stars – Alshon Jeffery, Marcus Lattimore, Jadeveon Clowney. He just hasn't had the quarterback. Maybe this year.
3. Les Miles, Louisiana State (37 points): Miles has won 34 games the last three seasons without winning his second BCS title. Five of his eight LSU teams have finished the season ranked in the Top 10.
But if there is anybody on the list positioned to fall, it's Miles. LSU fans have never been gaga about his bizarro play calling. He's overdue to get burned by one of the knuckleheads he persists in keeping stashed on the Tigers' roster. And he can't get past Saban.
2. Urban Meyer, Ohio State (45 points): Even Saban can't question this one.
1. Nick Saban, Alabama (50 points): Even Meyer can't question this one.