Tip Top 25 in helmets, smaller

Top All-Time Major/FBS College Football Coaches by Winning Percentage

Here are the top major-school (or FBS) coaches of all time by winning percentage, through the 2017 season. A minimum of 10 years coaching at a major/FBS school is required to qualify for the list. Some of my numbers are different from those of the NCAA (and/or other prominent sources), and each such case is footnoted. Coaches in bold are still active as of the end of the 2017 season. Due to errors in even the NCAA's version of the list, this is the most accurate list of top coaches by win percentage that you will find (details in the footnotes).

1 Knute Rockne .881 105-12-5 Notre Dame 1918-1930
2 Frank Leahy .864 107-13-9 Boston College 1939-1940; Notre Dame 1941-1943, 1946-1953
3Urban Meyer.851177-31Bowling Green 2001-2002; Utah 2003-2004; Florida 2005-2010; Ohio State 2012-present
4 George Woodruff .846 142-25-2 Penn 1892-1901; Illinois 1903; Carlisle 1905
5 Barry Switzer .837 157-29-4 Oklahoma 1973-1988
6 Tom Osborne .836 255-49-3 Nebraska 1973-1997
7 Fielding Yost (1) .833 198-35-12 Ohio Wesleyan 1897; Nebraska 1898; Kansas 1899; Stanford 1900; San Jose State 1900; Michigan 1901-1923, 1925-1926
8 Percy Haughton (2) .832 96-17-6 Cornell 1899-1900; Harvard 1908-1916; Columbia 1923-1924
9 Robert Neyland .829 173-31-12 Tennessee 1926-1934, 1936-1940, 1946-1952
10 Bud Wilkinson .826 145-29-4 Oklahoma 1947-1963
11Chris Petersen.816129-29Boise State 2006-2013; Washington 2014-present
12 Jock Sutherland .812 144-28-14 Lafayette 1919-1923; Pittsburgh 1924-1938
13 Bob Devaney .806 136-30-7 Wyoming 1957-1961; Nebraska 1962-1972
14Bob Stoops.798190-48Oklahoma 1999-2016
15 Frank Thomas .795 141-33-9 Chattanooga 1925-1928; Alabama 1931-1946
16 Henry Williams .786 141-34-12 Army 1891; Minnesota 1900-1921
17Nick Saban (8).7815223-62-1Toledo 1990; Michigan State 1995-1999; Louisiana State 2000-2004; Alabama 2007-present
18 Gil Dobie (3) .7813 180-45-15 North Dakota State 1906-1907; Washington 1908-1916; Navy 1917-1919; Cornell 1920-1935; Boston College 1936-1938
19 Paul "Bear" Bryant .780 323-85-17 Maryland 1945; Kentucky 1946-1953; Texas A&M 1954-1957; Alabama 1958-1982
20 Fred Folsom (4) .779 106-28-6 Colorado 1895-1899, 1901-1902; Dartmouth 1903-1906; Colorado 1908-1915
21 Bo Schembechler .775 234-65-8 Miami-Ohio 1963-1968; Michigan 1969-1989
22 Charlie Moran (5) .7712 131-35-11 Texas A&M 1909-1914; Centre 1917-1923; Bucknell 1924-1926; Catawba 1930-1933
23Dabo Swinney.7710101-30Clemson 2008-present
24 Fritz Crisler .768 116-32-9 Minnesota 1930-1931; Princeton 1932-1937; Michigan 1938-1947
25 Wallace Wade .765 171-49-10 Alabama 1923-1930; Duke 1931-1941, 1946-1950
26 Frank Kush .764 176-54-1 Arizona State 1958-1979
27 Dan McGugin .7620 197-55-19 Vanderbilt 1904-1917, 1919-1934
28 Bob Folwell (6) .7617 109-31-9 Lafayette 1909-1911; Washington & Jefferson 1912-1915; Penn 1916-1919; Navy 1920-1924
29 Jim Crowley (7) .7615 78-21-10 Michigan State 1929-1932; Fordham 1933-1941
30 Andy Smith .7609 116-32-13 Penn 1909-1912; Purdue 1913-1915; California 1916-1925
31 Woody Hayes .7594 238-72-10 Denison 1946-1948; Miami-Ohio 1949-1950; Ohio State 1951-1978
32 Earl "Red" Blaik .7588 166-48-14 Dartmouth 1934-1940; Army 1941-1958
33 Lloyd Carr .753 122-40 Michigan 1995-2007


1) The NCAA has Fielding Yost at 196-36-12, .828, which would drop him to 9th place. There are 2 issues here. The first is that the NCAA has Nebraska at 7-4 in 1898, losing to William Jewell. Every other source (wikipedia, the college football data warehouse, and James Howell's scores) has Nebraska at 8-3, with a win over William Jewell. Nebraska's record book does as well, so I'm going with everyone else here and counting Nebraska as 8-3 for that season. The second issue is that the NCAA does not recognize Yost's 1 game coaching San Jose State to a win to finish the 1900 season. San Jose State itself lists Yost as the head coach for that game, and again, every source aside from the NCAA recognizes it. As do I.

2) My Percy Haughton record is the same as the NCAA's, but wikipedia, the college football data warehouse, and James Howell's scores all give Haughton 1 more win, as they count as "official" a mid-week 6-0 win by Harvard over "Harvard Law School" in 1910. Harvard itself does not count this game as official, which is enough for me not to count it. Harvard Law School did not actually have a team; this was an impromptu game between the varsity squad and ex-varsity players in the Law School, and it was not even played under the rules of 1910, since the older players were used to then-illegal plays.

3) My Gil Dobie record is the same as the NCAA's, but wikipedia, the college football data warehouse, and James Howell's scores all give Dobie 2 extra wins. The first is an alleged 69-0 win by North Dakota State over Mayville State in 1906, and the 2nd is an alleged 15-0 win by Navy over the USS Utah in 1919. However, North Dakota State and Navy do not list these games in their record books, so I see no reason to recognize the games either. Aside from checking North Dakota State's record book, I've done no research looking for the alleged game between North Dakota State and Mayville State, so I don't know what the issue is there. I have researched the alleged game between Navy and the USS Utah, but I have not been able to find it. The New York Times has a lot of articles about the Navy football team in 1919, but there is no mention of this game in November, December, or January of 1920. This game is listed by sources that include it as taking place after the Army game, and it seems highly unlikely to me that any game against a ship's crew that took place after the Army game would be considered in any way "official."

4) The NCAA gives Fred Folsom 1 extra win. The problem here is that the NCAA counts Folsom as coach at Colorado for the entire 1895 season, but he didn't actually take over until the 2nd game of that season, when they were already 1-0. This is confirmed by Colorado's record book, and wikipedia has Folsom's correct career numbers as well.

5) The NCAA used to have Charlie Moran at 122-33-12, .766, but as of 2010 he has suddenly disappeared from their list of top all-time coaches by win percentage. Wikipedia has him at 121-35-12, .756. The biggest issue here is that both the NCAA and wikipedia have Charlie Moran as head coach at Centre 1919-1923, but he was actually the coach there 1917-1923. All older sources (from a profile published in a Christian magazine in the 1920s to articles in Sports Illustrated in the 1950s and 1960s) say he was coach at Centre 1917-1923, and Centre itself says so. The 1919-1923 error originates with the NCAA, and every source since merely repeats that error. An assiduously researched book about Centre, The Wonder Team by Robert Robertson, says he started coaching Centre the 3rd game of the 1917 season, and that is what I am going with here. That makes him 53-6-1 at Centre rather than 42-6-1.

Another issue is that Moran did not start coaching at Texas A&M until their 3rd game in 1909, as confirmed in Texas A&M's record book, but the NCAA and wikipedia both mistakenly count Texas A&M's first 2 games of that season (1-0-1) as part of Moran's record. That makes him 37-8-3 at A&M, not 38-8-4. All sources agree that he was 19-10-2 at Bucknell, but there is a final minor issue with his record at Catawba. The college football data warehouse has him 23-10-5 there, giving him a 9-6 win over Appalachian State, but both Catawba and Appalachian State say that Appalachian State won that game 7-0. As such, his correct record at Catawba was 22-11-5 (wikipedia has this correct number as well).

6) Bob Folwell is not listed in the NCAA Records Book's version of this list. It could be that the NCAA did not consider Lafayette and Washington & Jefferson to be major football schools, but both schools were indeed majors at the time he was coaching them. Or maybe whoever compiled the list for the NCAA in the first place simply missed Folwell.

7) Some sources have Jim Crowley at 86-23-11 because they are counting his year as coach of North Carolina Pre-Flight in 1942. They went 8-2-1, but of course, NCPF was not a college team, so the NCAA does not count those numbers. Neither do I.

8) The NCAA vacated 5 of Nick Saban's wins from his first year at Alabama, 2007, and so the NCAA has him with 5 fewer wins for his career. However, I am only interested in what actually happened on the field of play, and I do not pay attention to NCAA-vacated wins anywhere on this website.