No Sleep Till Football

Like Brooklyn Except It's Football

How Good is Chip Kelly?

(Edit: I added in some more coaches that were significant omissions! I tried to correct them. A future post discussing the state of head coaches among FCS schools will certainly be on my “must do” list.)

It’s easy to get up in college football coaches because there are quite a few who are really really good. A quick list of the best coaches by conference in my opinion are:

Big 10: Jim Tressel, Kirk Ferentz, Pat Fitzgerald, Rich Rodriguez, Joe Paterno, Mark Dantonio
Big East: Randy Edsall, Doug Marrone, Butch Jones, Skip Holtz
ACC: Frank Beamer, Tom O’Brien, Ralph Friedgen, Butch Davis, Jimbo Fisher, Paul Johnson
Big XII: Art Briles, Mack Brown, Bob Stoops, Mike Gundy, Gary Pinkel, Paul Rhoads
SEC: Steve Spurrier, Urban Meyer, Mark Richt, Derek Dooley, Nick Saban, Gene Chizik, Dan Mullen, Houston Nutt, Bobby Petrino
Pac 10: Mike Stoops, Rick Neuheisal, Lane Kiffin, Chip Kelly, Mike Riley, Jim Harbaugh, Jeff Tedford, Steve Sarkisian
IND: Brian Kelly
Non-AQ Schools: Chris Petersen, Troy Calhoun, Bronco Mendenhall, Chris Ault, Brady Hoke, June Jones, Gary Patterson,

Of those 35 coaches, there are certainly some guys of legendary status already. Saban & Meyer come to mind almost immediately. Paterno of course is on another planet entirely. Steve Spurrier is pretty much a walking legend.

But how good is Chip Kelly? Consider this:

Kelly is the first coach ever in the Pac 10 to win an outright conference title in his first year at the helm. Consider also that currently the Ducks are 11-0 with a win over Oregon St. standing in their way in playing for a national championship. Keep in mind also this is the first 2 years of Kelly’s coaching career.

So currently Kelly is a 21-3 in his first 24 games including a Rose Bowl berth & a potential national championship game. I haven’t looked, but I think you’d be hard pressed to find another coach with that kind of record in his first two years as a HC. Some of that is luck. Kelly inherited Oregon from Mike Bellotti instead of toiling away in the MAC like say an Urban Meyer did. He didn’t have to grind at Duke the way Steve Spurrier did. He didn’t even have to go to a school like Youngstown St. the way Jim Tressel did.

But even Bellotti in his 14 years in Eugene never came close to accomplishing what Kelly has in a short amount of time. Bellotti won 2 Pac 10 titles. Kelly? Already did it. Bellotti never got to a Rose Bowl. Kelly? Got it done in his first year. Bellotti never played for a national championship. Kelly is one game away from bringing Oregon their first ever BCS National Championship. You could say that Kelly is doing it with Bellotti’s players, but Kelly was on Bellotti’s staff and helped Oregon get some of those players. Kelly has a tremendous offensive mind.

It’s easy to say Nick Saban or Urban Meyer or Mack Brown or Bob Stoops or Jim Tressel when you talk about the best coach in college football, but maybe it’s time we start mentioning Chip Kelly when it comes to best head coach in college football.


November 27, 2010 - Posted by | Chip Kelly, Oregon


  1. I would say at first glance the ACC and Big East look pretty weak compared to the best of the other conferences. Where would you put Brian Kelly after a ho hum year at ND compared to the ACC and the Big East?

    Comment by BigTimber | November 27, 2010 | Reply

  2. Timber,

    At first glance the Big East looks a tad weak, but it's deceptive. They did have Rich Rodriguez who might wish he was back at West Virginia after the blowout loss to Ohio St. today. You also had Bobby Petrino at Louisville & Brian Kelly at Cincinnati. Note too that Jim Leavitt was fired from South Florida. A few years ago the Big East was PACKED and they still have some heavy hitters. Skip Holtz at South Florida was probably unreasonably left out in my originial post. Doug Marrone is ABSOLUTELY the right guy at Syracuse. Randy Edsall is about as good as they come. I'm a little mixed about Greg Schiano at Rutgers, but he's a Rutgers guy & that counts for something because he has a passion for being in Jersey.

    The Big East is one of the more underrated conferences in my opinion. The top of the Big East might not be as good as the top of the other AQ conferences, but from top to bottom there are no weak teams the way the Big 10 has Indiana & Minnesota. The way the Pac 10 has Washington St. The way the ACC has Duke or Wake Forest. The way the SEC has Vanderbilt & Kentucky to an extent. The way the Big XII has Kansas or until recently Iowa St.

    The ACC is always a bit tougher. I hope Butch Davis survives at UNC b/c it makes the conference that much better. The problem with the ACC is always going to be one of dominance by FSU & Miami-FL. The Hurricanes have a problem because Randy Shannon isn't the guy. We don't know about Jimbo Fisher at Florida St. The same with Dabo Sweeney at Clemson. The conference is almost in transition without having the flagship programs of FSU & Miami-FL being a fixture in the top-10. It hurts the conference.

    As for Brian Kelly, what he's done at Notre Dame has been nothing short of amazing. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING that could go wrong in his first year did go wrong & yet he's still here at 6-5. Notre Dame is going to a bowl & I think they can make it close with USC tonight.

    Brian Kelly deserves to be mentioned in the conversation as best HC in college football. I'm convinced ND will win a title or two with him at the helm.

    Comment by College Football Mafia | November 27, 2010 | Reply

  3. Something else I've always found intriguing is the SEC. I listed 9 coaches among the best in the country. The guys I left off are Les Miles (LSU), Joker Phillips (Kentucky) & Robbie Caldwell (Vanderbilt). I'm not overly impressed with Miles (not many people are), but the guy is currently 10-1 & he's won a national championship at LSU. If Michigan cans Rich Rodriguez, you can be sure they are going to try & lure the Mad Hatter away from Baton Rouge.

    Phillips & Caldwell are in their first years as HC so who knows about them at the moment? We can't draw any conclusions.

    But can you imagine a young coach thinking about taking a job in the SEC? You simply cannot hope to compete on ANY level. The coaching staffs aren't merely good, they are OUTSTANDING at every single institution except UK & Vandy.

    It's really interesting.

    Comment by College Football Mafia | November 27, 2010 | Reply

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