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College Football: Winning a National Championship as a Head Coach & Assistant Coach

Posted by Andrew McKillop on June 6, 2011

This past college football season Gene Chizik won his second national championship in the last six seasons.  He won a national championship as an assistant coach with Texas in 2005, and now with Auburn as a head coach in 2010.  According to my count, he is the 17th coach to win a national championship as a head coach, and as an assistant coach.

I used College Football Data Warehouse’s great list of Recognized National Championships by Year, to determine national champions for the purpose of the list below.  Tex Noel, the Executive Director of The Intercollegiate Football Researchers Association who is heavily credited for that posted link/list, gave me the idea for this article.

Legend: HC&NC Team (The team the coach won a national championship with as the head coach), AC&NC Team (The team the coach won  a national championship with as an assistant coach), Coached Under (The head coach the assistant coach worked for when they won a national championship)

Coach HC&NC Team Year(s) AC&NC Team Year(s) Coached Under
Frank Broyles Arkansas 1964 Georgia Tech 1952 Bobby Dodd
Gene Chizik Auburn 2010 Texas 2005 Mack Brown
Duffy Daugherty Michigan St 1965, 66 Michigan St 1951, 52 Biggie Munn
Dan Devine Notre Dame 1977 Michigan St 1951, 52 Biggie Munn
Vince Dooley George 1980 Auburn 1957 Ralph Jordan
Danny Ford Clemson 1981 Alabama 1973 Bear Bryant
Lou Holtz Notre Dame 1988 Ohio St 1968 Woody Hayes
Johnny Majors Pittsburgh 1976 Arkansas 1964 Frank Broyles
Bennie Oosterbaan Michigan 1948 Michigan 1932, 33, 47 Harry Kipke (32-33) Fritz Crisler (47)
Tom Osborne Nebraska 1994, 95, 97 Nebraska 1970, 71 Bob Devaney
John Robinson USC 1978 USC 1972, 74 John McKay
Howard Schnellenberger Miami FL 1983 Alabama 1961, 64, 65 Bear Bryant
Andy Smith California 1920, 21, 22 Pennsylvania 1907, 08 Carl Williams (07) Sol Metzger (08)
Gene Stallings Alabama 1992 Alabama 1961, 64 Bear Bryant
Bob Stoops Oklahoma 2000 Florida 1996 Steve Spurrier
Barry Switzer Oklahoma 1974, 75, 85 Arkansas 1964 Frank Broyles
Murray Warmath Minnesota 1960 Tennessee 1938 Robert Neyland



Some interesting notes:

  • When a coach wins a national championship as an assistant and head coach, the average wait between winning a title between assistant and head coach jobs, is 14.1 seasons.
  • Five coaches have won a national championships as an assistant coach and a head coach at the same school (D. Daugherty – Mich St., T. Osborne – Nebraska, B. Oosterbaan – Michigan , J. Robinson – USC, Gene Stallings – Alabama).
  • Three future national championship winning head coaches, won national championships while working for the legendary Bear Bryant.
  • Frank Broyles is the only coach to have won a national championship as an assistant coach and a head coach, and led a staff with a future national championship coach(s) to a national championship.
  • Gene Stallings (1977 DAL) and Howard Schnellenberger (1972 MIA) also won Super Bowl’s as assistant coaches.  Barry Switzer won a Super Bowl (1995) as a head coach.
  • National championship winning head coach Mack Brown just missed out on winning a national championship as an assistant coach.  He was the offensive coordinator of the Oklahoma Sooners, one season before their 1985 national championship.
  • National championship winning head coach Jimmy Johnson also just missed out on winning a national championship as an assistant coach.  He joined Pittsburgh one season after they won the national championship in 1976.



Reference: Wikipedia articles provided coaching career experience information.  The links attached to the coaches names will send you to the appropriate article I used to help create this post.

This New York Times article from January 9, 1926, stated that Andy Smith was an assistant coach at Pennsylvania, when they won a national championship.

I mentioned before that Tex Noel, the Executive Director of The Intercollegiate Football Researchers Association, provided me the idea for this article.  He also provided me his list on the topic, which I was able to review with my own research, to limit any errors or omissions.  Thanks Tex for your help.

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