The 5 Best College Football Coaches Who Have Been Fired

Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

You don’t have to work in the industry to know that big time college football is a cutthroat business. With the money that is involved in all phases of the sport, it’s easy to understand why. That said, with millions of dollars on the line, the pressure for coaches to win is through the roof, and very few coaches are fortunate enough to have any semblance of job security.

We all saw this first hand when the University of Georgia fired longtime head coach Mark Richt (pictured above). In his 15 years on the job, Richt won 74% of his games, going 145-51 overall, he won two SEC titles and nine bowl games, and he produced 13 first round NFL Draft picks. But in the end, it wasn’t enough, as Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity ultimately decided that it was in his football program’s best interests to move on from their longtime coach, despite all of Richt’s accomplishments and years of loyalty to the University.

While it is extremely rare to see coaches of his stature get fired, Richt was far from the first successful college football coach to face the chopping block. With that being said, here is a look at the five best college football coaches (in no particular order) who have been fired at some point during their careers.

1.  Mack Brown, Texas

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

  • Winning Percentage:  76.7%
  • Total Wins:  158
  • National Titles:  1
  • Conference Titles:  2
  • Bowl Game Wins:  13
  • Consensus All-Americans:  18

Brown wasn’t technically fired, but we still chose to include him on this list anyway given the fact that his resignation was forced. In his 16 seasons as the Longhorns’ head coach, Brown brought one national title and two conference titles to Austin, averaged close to 10 wins per season, coached two Heisman Trophy winners, and finished his tenure with the second most career wins in franchise history. However, after failing to reach double-digit wins in each of his final four seasons, the Texas administration forced Brown into resigning. Still, it’s hard to feel bad for 2005 National Coach of the Year, as he collected a $2.75 million buyout – which is what he would have received had been fired – in addition to a one year special assignment job that paid him $500,000.

2.  Phillip Fulmer, Tennessee

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

  • Winning Percentage:  74.3%
  • Total Wins:  151
  • National Titles:  1
  • Conference Titles:  2
  • Bowl Game Wins:  8
  • Consensus All-Americans:  8

Fulmer was another coach that was forced into resignation. What made his situation all the more shocking was that in addition to being the second-best coach in Tennessee football history (behind Robert Neyland), Fulmer was also an All-Conference offensive lineman for the Volunteers from 1969-1971. As the program’s head coach, Fulmer won one national title and two conference titles, while producing numerous players that went on to NFL stardom.

3.  Bobby Bowden, Florida State

Doug Benc/Getty Images

Doug Benc/Getty Images

  • Winning Percentage:  76.0%
  • Total Wins:  315
  • National Titles:  2
  • Conference Titles:  12
  • Bowl Game Wins:  22
  • Consensus All-Americans:  24

Florida State sold Bowden’s departure in 2009 as a mutual parting of ways, but the legendary coach made it clear that he was fired by then-FSU Athletic Director T.K. Wetherell in his book Called to Coach. All Bowden did during his time in Tallahassee was win 315 games, two nation titles, 12 conference titles, and 22 bowl games. The two time National Coach of the Year also turned Florida State into one of the premier schools in the country in terms of producing NFL talent.

4.  Larry Coker, Miami (FL)

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

  • Winning Percentage:  80.0%
  • Total Wins:  60
  • National Titles:  1
  • Conference Titles:  3
  • Bowl Game Wins:  4
  • Consensus All-Americans:  7

Coker led the Hurricanes to one of the most dominant three-year stretches in college football history. In his six seasons as the head coach in Coral Gables, Coker won 80-percent of his games, averaged 10 wins per season, won one national title and three conference titles, produced 17 first round NFL Draft picks, and most importantly, Coker helped restore the swagger to “The U” that made them one of the most feared teams in the country during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. We still believe Coker was fired prematurely, despite all of the team’s issues during his final season on the job.

5.  Joe Paterno, Penn State

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

  • Winning Percentage:  74.9%
  • Total Wins:  409
  • National Titles:  2
  • Conference Titles:  3
  • Bowl Game Wins:  24
  • Consensus All-Americans:  30

The way the late Paterno’s career ended is just flat-out sad and unfortunate. That said, you can count us among those who will not let the scandal involving one of his longtime assistant coaches affect the way we view Paterno’s legacy. When his career came to an end, Paterno had won more games than any other coach in Division-I football history, brought home two national titles and three conference titles, and won 24 bowl games.

All statistics courtesy of Sports-Reference.