Rare Air – We Are the Champions, Champions, Champions


Nick Saban, Bob Stoops, Steve Spurrier, Frank Beamer, Bret Bielema.

This is the list of active college football coaches at NCAA BCS-automatic qualifying conferences who can lay claim to three or more conference championships, according to our research. We debated adding Chip Kelly, former head coach of the Oregon Ducks, who had three PAC-12 titles to his name when he left earlier this year for the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles. With him or without him on the list, property values in this neighborhood of champions doesn’t drop.

If we’ve overlooked anyone, please tell us.

Beyond the major-conference championship titles, something else every coach on this list has in common is being listed somewhere from No. 1 (Saban) to No. 25 (Bielema) on Athlon Sports ranking of football coaches released last month. Last year these coaches were on the list from No 1. (Saban) to No. 23. (Bielema).

Saban and Spurrier both joined the “Conference Champions x3 Club” as coaches in the SEC – Saban with two conference titles at LSU and two at Alabama; Spurrier with a staggering seven SEC titles during his coaching days at Florida plus an ACC title while at Duke.

Stoops has five Big 12 Conference titles. Beamer has seven – three in the Big East and four ACC titles.

And Bret Bielema, at age 42, the youngest member of the club, joins with three consecutive championships while head coach at Wisconsin in the Big 10 Conference.

Les Miles, who has a national championship trophy and a runner-up honor to his credit, isn’t on the list.

Urban Meyer, who has four titles, two while at Florida, and two more from his days at the Utah, which was not in an automatic-qualigying conference at that time, isn’t on the list, despite the rings he bought for his players following last year’s undefeated season at Ohio State.

Kansas State’s Bill Snyder isn’t on the list.

Mack Brown of Texas doesn’t make the list, either.

Bobby Petrino, Athlon Sports No. 8 best coach in the country, also isn’t on the list.

Winning three or more football titles at one of the major athletic conferences is hard business. Not many who still coach college can make the claim. A partial list of those who are dead or out of the college game who have done it reads like a Hall of Fame – not an induction ceremony, but like an entire Hall of Fame.

Paul “Bear” Bryant, Frank Broyles, Bobby Bowden, Darrell Royal, Bo Schembechler, Woody Hayes, Pete Carroll. You get the point.

The reality is this: There are now three coaches in one league who hold multiple-year major conference championships. Les Miles is knocking on the door. And in the Big 10, Meyer is ready to punch his ticket.

Who are the best college coaches in the game? The top 10? The top 5?

When that debate heats up this offseason on sports radio, message boards and in watering holes, as it inevitably will, remember this – There are only five men who coach teams in major conferences who are members of the x3 club.

Where would you rank Bret Bielema as a coach? Tell us why in the comments section.

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