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The 5 Best College Football Head Coaches Without a National Title

The Top 5 FBS Coaches Without a National Title
Craig Mitchelldyer/Mike Zarrilli/Lisa Blumenfeld, Getty Images

Don’t let Nick Saban fool you: building a championship college football program is not an easy task. Between recruiting, budget restrictions and the yearly loss of star players to the pros, head coaches face a constant series of challenges. Surprising stat: Out of the 124 active FBS football head coaches, only eight have managed to win a national championship.

That isn’t to say that the other 116 gainfully employed men are incompetent. In fact, many of these coaches are frequently on the brink of securing a piece of college football immortality. Let’s take a look at some of the best FBS coaches that have yet to win a title:

Gary Patterson, TCU

Gary Patterson
Eric Draper, Getty Images

Since his 2000 hiring, Gary Patterson has transformed the Horned Frogs from Division I doormat into a regular top 10 team. Under Patterson, TCU has won at least 11 games in seven out of the last nine seasons. That consistency has racked up five conference championships and an impressive seven bowl wins. Patterson was also named the A.P. Coach of the Year in 2009, and has overseen the development of some legendary players. Most importantly, TCU’s 2012 jump to the Big 12 will finally provide Patterson’s squad with the strength of schedule of a legitimate national contender.

Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech

Frank Beamer
Chris Graythen, Getty Images

As the FBS’s longest-tenured head coach, Frank Beamer must be doing something right. Beamer’s 25-year reign at Virginia Tech has produced an unmatched seven conference championships (three in the Big East, four in the ACC)—a feat that no school in either conference has managed to duplicate. The 65-year-old is a two-time ACC Coach of the Year, and is the FBS active leader in career wins. The Hokies may have experienced their share of postseason struggles, but with someone like Beamer at the helm, a championship trophy will always loom on the horizon.

Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State

Mike Gundy
Donald Miralle, Getty Images

Mike Gundy is best known for his well-documented rant during a 2007 press conference, but the incident hardly defines the man. Despite his fiery temper, Mike Gundy is one of the most effective and well-respected head coaches in Division I football. Oklahoma State has enjoyed a lengthy run of national success under Gundy, including a pair of 11-win seasons and a Fiesta Bowl title. The program’s steady improvement came to a head in 2012, as the Cowboys achieved a No. 3 ranking and finished the season just outside the national title game. If Gundy can keep the school on track, he won’t be on this list much longer.

Chris Petersen, Boise State

Chris Petersen
Jonathan Ferrey, Getty Images

Before the Chris Petersen era, Boise State wasn’t exactly on the national college football radar. Since 2006, though, the Broncos have forced their way into the BCS title conversation with a spectacular run of success. In his first season, Petersen led BSU to a 13-0 record, becoming the second non-BCS school to win a BCS bowl game. In his seven years as head coach, the 47-year-old has compiled a ridiculous 74-7 career record and is the only two-time winner of the Bear Bryant Award. Boise State is set to join the BCS-sanctioned Big East in 2013, which should provide Petersen with a great shot at that elusive national championship.

Chip Kelly, Oregon

Chip Kelly
Harry How, Getty Images

The Oregon Ducks may have gained a dubious reputation for their fashion sense, but Chip Kelly has ensured that they are always a threat on the gridiron. In his first three seasons as head coach, Kelly has led the Ducks to a 37-6 record, a pair of Rose Bowls, and the 2010 national championship game (a loss to Auburn). The 48-year-old’s spread offense has not only produced the school’s most prolific offenses ever, it’s also helped to change the way college football is played. Oregon is off to a fast start in 2012, and if history is any indication, Kelly will be knocking on that championship door soon enough.

 

Photo by Aaron Savage
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