Tom Coughlin's 17-14 toppling of the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, with a New York Giants team that finished 10-6 in the regular season, would be one strong candidate for the "greatest coaching job" label. Another might be when former Penn State coach Joe Paterno engineered a stunning upset of Miami in the Fiesta Bowl to win the 1986 national championship, 14-10.
But for former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden, it's what Ohio State coach Urban Meyer did just six weeks ago.
"Maybe the best coach in the SEC went to the Big Ten," Gruden said Thursday on ESPN Radio's The Herd. "Urban Meyer did the greatest coaching job of all time. Winning a national championship with his third-string quarterback, I've never seen that before."
Quarterback Cardale Jones was thrust from anonymity to college football star almost instantly last season when he went from third-stringer to starter after the Buckeyes lost two quarterbacks, Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett, to a season-ending injuries. Jones took over the starting role with the team at 11-1 and still hoping for a berth in the College Football Playoff, and responded with three wins in three postseason starts. A win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game put Ohio State in the playoff, and his play only improved from there in wins over Alabama and Oregon to win the national title.
"What he did at Ohio State, losing a Heisman Trophy candidate and then doing what he did with two different quarterbacks that were backups. Amazing to me," Gruden said.
It's something of a nebulous debate -- a criteria like Ohio State's three-game run with Jones isn't quite the same as judging a coaching performance over a single game, like the Giants' memorable upset, or across a full season. The college and pro games aren't the same, and different eras in both are difficult to compare, as well.
For Gruden, anyway, the bar has been raised.