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Published: June 23, 2014 at 10:36 a.m.
Updated: June 23, 2014 at 02:33 p.m.

14 for '14: Best head coaches in college football

» Complete 14 for '14 series

While it's true being an NFL head coach is a demanding job with plenty of scrutiny, the pressures a college football coach faces on a weekly basis might be even more rigorous than their professional counterparts. Sure they have to win games, but there's also added elements like recruiting and booster functions some simply don't want to handle. CFB 24/7 continues the "14 for '14" series with a look at the best college football coaches who can do it all at the top of their game.

14 Photos Total

  • 14. Mike Riley, Oregon State 14

    Eugene Tanner/Associated Press

    14. Mike Riley, Oregon State

    Career record: 88-73
    NFL draft picks the last five years: 9
    In addition to being one of the best coaches in college football, you'd be hard pressed to find a nicer coach in the sport than Riley. He might not yell and scream like others on this list, but he's a sharp offensive football mind and knows how to get the best out of players who often aren't as talented as those they line up against. Plus, how many top-notch coaches ride their bike to work everyday?

  • 13. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State 13

    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    13. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State

    Career record: 45-10
    NFL draft picks the last five years: 28
    Seminoles fans will likely be upset that Fisher is this low after turning the program back into a powerhouse and winning a national title, but keep in mind he's still a young head coach and can surely rise up this list. Some early, puzzling losses are the only things keeping him back at the moment because the fastest-talking coach in the country has FSU humming right now.

  • 12. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M 12

    Dave Martin/Associated Press

    12. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M

    Career record: 55-23
    NFL draft picks the last five years: 8
    Remember when folks thought Texas A&M was going to be steamrolled when they joined the SEC? Sumlin had other plans. He elevated Houston when he was in charge and nearly got the Cougars into a BCS game in 2011. He's produced some phenomenal offensive numbers and bringing along Johnny Manziel -- on and off the field -- is an accomplishment in its own right. Sumlin is one of the savviest coaches around and has the Aggies primed to compete in the tough SEC West for years to come. If the former linebacker can figure out how to coach defense like he does his offense, he'll shoot up even further this list.

  • 11. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina 11

    Richard Shiro/Associated Press

    11. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina

    Career record: 219-79-2
    NFL draft picks the last five years: 19
    The Ol' Ball Coach is good for one-liners like nobody else in the game, and that tends to overshadow how he's positioned his Gamecocks into SEC East title contenders year in and year out. He had a legendary run at Florida back in the day, and no matter where he's at has proven he can adapt his offense to suit his players. Despite approaching 70 years old, he's still one of the best in the game.

  • 10. David Cutcliffe, Duke 10

    Gerry Broome/Associated Press

    10. David Cutcliffe, Duke

    Career record: 75-73
    NFL draft picks the last five years: 2
    NFL fans mostly know Cutcliffe for his work with Eli and Peyton Manning, but the quarterback guru is also about building programs. He did terrific work at Ole Miss (including winning the Cotton Bowl) and has built Duke -- yes, that Duke -- into an ACC team you can't take lightly after they appeared in last year's conference championship game and nearly upset Johnny Manziel's Texas A&M team in a bowl game. It certainly speaks to how good a coach he is when you see what the programs he left became after his departure.

  • 9. Gary Patterson, TCU 9

    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    9. Gary Patterson, TCU

    Career record: 120-44
    NFL draft picks the last five years: 13
    The move to the Big 12 has taken some of the shine off Patterson's star status, but make no mistake -- he's one of the best defensive minds in the game. He guided the Horned Frogs to a Rose Bowl victory and annually had them in the final top 25 for years. Despite wandering the country from conference to conference, he only has two losing records in 12 years and doesn't back down from a big game.

  • 8. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State 8

    Al Goldis/Associated Press

    8. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State

    Career record: 82-46
    NFL draft picks the last five years: 13
    Consistently one of the toughest Big Ten programs under his watch, Dantonio has been the steady hand that has raised the Spartans' profile to Big Ten and Rose Bowl champions. He won't win any awards on signing day, but he knows how to develop talent and field a top-notch defense.

  • 7. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma 7

    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    7. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma

    Career record: 160-39
    NFL draft picks the last five years: 28
    "Big Game" Bob's reputation took a hit the past few years, but as he proved in the Sugar Bowl, he's not a coach you want to sleep on. He has a national title to his name and has captured a remarkable eight Big 12 championships in his 15 seasons in Norman, Oklahoma. Remarkably consistent, he's posted 10 wins in all but three years as a head coach.

  • 6. Art Briles, Baylor 6

    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    6. Art Briles, Baylor

    Career record: 78-60
    NFL draft picks the last five years: 17
    Briles is a Texan through and through and has won just about everywhere he's been in the state. The offensive savant took over one of the toughest rebuilding jobs in the country at Baylor, but has made going to bowl games common place in Waco, Texas, where they used to count them on one hand. On his way to a Big 12 title and a string of NFL players, he also helped the Bears produce a Heisman Trophy winner.

  • 5. Bill Snyder, Kansas State 5

    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    5. Bill Snyder, Kansas State

    Career record: 178-90-1
    NFL draft picks the last five years: 7
    The Hayden Fry disciple has been a miracle worker in Manhattan, despite lacking anywhere close to the resources and recruiting base that others on this list have. Despite not being able to recruit a ton of talent out of high school, he's been one of the best at finding junior-college transfers who can make an impact. You'll find few blue-collar teams better than his. Kansas State named the stadium after him and nobody is identified closer to their program than Snyder.

  • 4. David Shaw, Stanford 4

    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    4. David Shaw, Stanford

    Career record: 34-7
    NFL draft picks the last five years: 17
    There's a reason his name pops up anytime there's an NFL opening, because owners would love to see the calm demeanor he has combined with a great coaching acumen on their sideline. People think he just inherited what Jim Harbaugh did on "the Farm," but Shaw was a major part of the Cardinal's rise to become a national power and has elevated the program to become a championship-winning one. Plus, you'll find no coach on this list who can diagram plays and discuss politics with presidents quite like Shaw.

  • 3. Urban Meyer, Ohio State 3

    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    3. Urban Meyer, Ohio State

    Career record: 128-22
    NFL draft picks the last five years: 22
    Nobody gets fans fired up like Meyer, thanks to his somewhat brash and outspoken nature. Still, it's hard to argue with the results on the field as the offensive-minded head coach has won everywhere from Bowling Green to Ohio State and has two national titles to his name. Considering his worst season is 8-5, Meyer knows exactly what he's doing and is a great motivator.

  • 2. Chris Petersen, Washington 2

    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    2. Chris Petersen, Washington

    Career record: 92-12
    NFL draft picks the last five years: 14
    Some people will continue to rail against Petersen for the conference he played in, but it doesn't matter where you coach, an 88 percent winning percentage in FBS college football is good. He is one of the best at identifying mismatches to exploit on offense, and has a great reputation for finding talent and developing it. He'll face a step up in competition at Washington, but make no mistake -- he's a talented coach who runs a top-notch program.

  • 1. Nick Saban, Alabama 1

    Dave Martin/Associated Press

    1. Nick Saban, Alabama

    Career record: 170-57-1
    NFL draft picks the last five years: 37
    Not much needs to be said about Saban, who rightfully earns the title of the highest-paid coach in college thanks to his 79-15 record over the past seven years with the Crimson Tide. He has four national titles to his name, and although he had a rocky first year in Tuscaloosa and a few questionable losses, he's turned Alabama into an NFL factory that has been to BCS games five of the last six seasons.

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