Which Coaches Spent the Most Time on top of the BCS Rankings?

The BCS era ends with Stoops as one of its most successful coaches

Bob Stoops perhaps has good reason to be critical of the BCS, as he was this time last season when Northern Illinois reached the Orange Bowl instead of his Sooners.

At the same time, though, the BCS era hasn’t been more kind to a coach than Stoops.

The Oklahoma coach has spent more time in the BCS top 10 than any other coach during the era. His 70 weeks in the top 10 is 12 more than his Red River rival Mack Brown even though the outgoing Texas coach had been employed at his current stop two seasons longer than Stoops.

As the BCS bowls begin tomorrow, Athlon decided to look back at some of the most successful coaches of the BCS era, which began in 1998 and will end next season with the College Football Playoff.

Certainly, the process to determine rankings were flawed and were a work in progress in the early years of the BCS. They existed almost exclusively to set up a No. 1 vs. No. 2 national championship game. The yearly BCS rankings ended with the regular season and never took into account postseason bowl games.

Still, the BCS rankings were the college football standard for 15 years, and for our purposes, they produced more meaningful rankings since they didn't appear until mid-October when voters and computers had more data to evaluate.

We dug into the BCS record book to compile the coaches who spent the most time in the BCS top 10, a measure of consistency and contention for championships or at least major bowl games.

We also took a look at the coaches who spent the most weeks ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 in the BCS standings, meaning the coach had a plausible chance to play for a national title in a given year.

The names atop the list aren’t all that surprising: Stoops has been at the same powerhouse program for nearly the entirety of the BCS era, he’s reached the most BCS games of any coach (nine), and he’s been a part of four national championship games.

Stoops hasn’t taken a detour in the NFL like Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier or Pete Carroll did. He didn’t start the BCS era at a lower-tier job as Urban Meyer did. He didn’t spent most of the BCS era as an assistant as Chip Kelly did.

But Stoops' 70 weeks in the BCS top 10 is astounding compared to Brown (58), Saban (52), Jim Tressel (52) and Carroll (51), the only other coaches in the BCS top 10 more than 50 times. Of the 124 BCS rankings all-time, Stoops and Oklahoma have been in the top 10 more than 65.3 percent of the time.

Stoops, though, hasn’t been in position for a national championship as much as Saban. Saban has spent 34 weeks ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 during the BCS era, at least once at all three of his major-conference stops at Michigan State, LSU and Alabama.

Most weeks in the BCS top 10WksMost Weeks Ranked No. 1-2Wks
Bob Stoops, Oklahoma70Nick Saban, LSU/Alabama34
Mack Brown, Texas58Bob Stoops, Oklahoma30
Nick Saban, Mich. St./LSU/Alabama52Pete Carroll, USC21
Jim Tressel, Ohio State52Jim Tressel, Ohio State20
Pete Carroll, USC51Larry Coker, Miami16
Les Miles, LSU45Bobby Bowden, Florida State12
Steve Spurrier, Florida/S. Carolina41Mack Brown, Texas12
Urban Meyer, Utah/Florida/Ohio St.41Les Miles, LSU11
Mark Richt, Georgia40Urban Meyer, Florida/Ohio St.10
Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech38Chip Kelly, Oregon9
Larry Coker, Miami35Phillip Fulmer, Tennessee8
Chip Kelly, Oregon35Gene Chizik, Auburn7
Bobby Bowden, Florida State32Jimbo Fisher, Florida State7
Bill Snyder, Kansas State32Frank Solich, Nebraska7

Here are a few other things we learned breaking down coaches in the BCS rankings:

• Stoops is second to Saban with 30 weeks ranked No. 1 or No. 2, but Oklahoma has been in the national championship scenario in only three rankings since the end of the 2004 season.

• Only Saban (LSU and Alabama) and Meyer (Florida and Ohio State) have been ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 with two separate teams. They’re also the only two coaches to lead three teams to the top 10 in the BCS — Saban did it with Michigan State, Meyer also did it with Utah.

• Including Saban and Meyer, eight coaches have led two separate teams to the BCS top 10: Brian Kelly (Cincinnati and Notre Dame), Bobby Petrino (Louisville and Arkansas), Steve Spurrier (Florida and South Carolina), Kevin Sumlin (Houston and Texas A&M), Dennis Erickson (Oregon State and Arizona State) and Ty Willingham (Stanford and Notre Dame).

• Two teams have reached the BCS top 10 under four different coaches: Miami (Butch Davis, Larry Coker, Randy Shannon and Al Golden) and Notre Dame (Bob Davie, Willingham, Charlie Weis and Brian Kelly).

• Three teams have been ranked No. 1 or No. 2 under three different coaches: Florida (Spurrier, Meyer and Will Muschamp), Ohio State (John Cooper, Jim Tressel and Meyer) and Oregon (Mike Bellotti, Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich).

• Who has had the most “hollow” time in the BCS top 10? That would be Georgia’s Mark Richt. The Bulldogs coach has spent 40 weeks in the top 10 but none of those weeks ranked in the top two. The next most with that designation is Chris Petersen while at Boise State (30 weeks).

• Of the coaches who spent at least a week ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 during the BCS era, the most weeks spent there without reaching a title game belong to Michigan’s Lloyd Carr (five weeks, all in 2006) and UCLA’s Bob Toledo (five weeks, all in 1998). Every other coach to spend at least five weeks ranked No.1 or No. 2 reached a national championship game.

• The most consecutive weeks in the BCS top 10 belongs to Carroll, who spent 38 weeks a row in the top 10 from Nov. 4, 2002 to Dec. 3, 2006. Saban has the longest active streak, in the top 10 for 24 consecutive weeks since 2011.

• Florida State’s string of 14 top-five finishes in the AP poll from 1987-2000 is one of the great feats in college football history, but FSU had been out of the top two of the BCS since the final rankings of 2000 ... that is, until reaching the No. 2 spot in the final rankings this season.

• How weird was the 2007 season? The following coaches were ranked No. 1 or No. 2 for at least a week: Jeff Jagodzinski, Mark Mangino, Gary Pinkel, Mike Bellotti, Jim Leavitt and Rich Rodriguez. It was the only time any of those coaches were ranked in the top two during the BCS era.

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