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The Countdown

A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.

Fake News

[Coach's Name] Field at [Trustee] Stadium

True or false: Idaho’s Kibbie Dome is named after Lloyd Kibbie, a former head coach at the university who reeled off eight straight winning seasons before stepping aside in favor of his loyal assistant, Ted Bank, in 1935. Well, one part of that question is true – Bank was named Idaho’s head coach in 1935.

No, the Kibbie Dome is not named after a former head coach, but rather a construction executive named William H. Kibbie, one of the project’s main contributors. This is how it goes for the wide majority of F.B.S. stadiums: The names on the outside typically honor trustees, school presidents, benefactors, veterans or, simply, the school itself.

One more true or false: Of the 124 stadiums in the F.B.S., 26 honor a former coach in some fashion – either with his name gracing the stadium or with a field named in his memory. That’s true. Here they are:

Alabama (Bear) Bryant-Denny Stadium
Arizona State Sun Devil Stadium, Frank Kush Field
Arkansas Donald W. Reynolds Razorbacks Stadium, Frank Broyles Field
Army (Red) Blaik Field at Michie Stadium
Auburn (Shug) Jordan-Hare Stadium, Pat Dye Field
Bowling Green Doyt Perry Stadium
B.Y.U. LaVell Edwards Stadium
Colorado (Fred) Folsom Field
Colorado State Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium
Duke Wallace Wade Stadium
Eastern Michigan (Elton) Rynearson Stadium
Florida State Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium
Georgia Tech Bobby Dodds Stadium at Historic Grant Field
Kansas State Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium
Louisiana-Monroe (James) Malone Stadium
Louisiana Tech Joe Aillet Stadium
Middle Tennessee State Johnny “Red” Floyd Stadium
Maryland (Curley) Byrd Stadium
Mississippi (Johnny) Vaught-Hemingway Stadium
Missouri (Don) Faurot Field
Ohio (Don) Peden Stadium
Oregon Autzen Stadium, Rich Brooks Field
Tennessee (Robert) Neyland Stadium
Texas Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium
Texas State Jim Wacker Field at Bobcat Stadium
Utah State Merlin Olsen Field at (Dick) Romney Stadium

Arkansas wins the award for the most laboriously named stadium – I’m pretty sure adding “Razorbacks” is a bit redundant. Auburn wins the prize for honoring two coaches, Shug Jordan and Pat Dye. Bill Snyder did his family right by keeping them in the picture.

More tidbits of note: Darrell Royal’s middle name is simply “K,” without an initial. Two coaches, Bowden and Lubick, were active as recently as 2009 and 2007, respectively. One, Snyder, is still going strong. Utah State’s stadium honors a former player, Olsen, and a former coach — not the other famous Romney in Utah.

The genesis of this post is today’s Wake Forest preview, which had me considering Jim Grobe’s place in that program’s history. Is he Wake’s finest coach? Pea Head Walker had more wins, but considering the current landscape of college football, I’d say that Grobe’s place atop the program’s coaching pantheon is secure.

The exercise: What active head coaches – because going back to include all coaches would be way too difficult – might one day deserve to see their name plastered on their current home field? You need to consider a few factors, such as the fact that simply winning big, like a Bob Stoops at Oklahoma, might not be enough to qualify.

You either need to win enormously at a major program or succeed where others haven’t – Grobe more than surpasses the latter qualification. A coach needs to have left an imprint, more or less. Here are a few names to consider, starting with Grobe.

Jim Grobe, Wake Forest
(68-67 since 2001)

The second-most wins in school history. Five of the program’s 10 bowl trips. The first coach since 1951 to win more than 50 percent of his games. Led Wake to one of its two A.C.C. titles.

Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech
(209-98-2 since 1987)

Most wins in school history – 165 more wins than his next-closest competitor. Thirteen double-digit win seasons, including an active streak of eight straight. One outright Big East title, four A.C.C. titles. The architect of one of the proudest programs in college football.

Mack Brown, Texas
(141-39 since 1998)

The highest winning percentage of any coach in the program’s modern era, ahead of even Royal. One national title and two Big 12 titles. Remade Texas in the state’s image – big, bad, bullying and larger than life. Could probably put his name alongside Royal’s.

Larry Blakeney, Troy
(164-91-1 since 1991)

Has led Troy through several incarnations: Division II, the F.C.S. and the F.B.S., winning at each stop in equal measure. Troy has dominated the Sun Belt under Blakeney, sharing or winning outright five straight conference titles from 2006-10. Has the most wins in school history and the highest winning percentage of any coach who served more than three years in the position.

Chris Petersen, Boise State
(73-6 since 2006)

Off to the hottest start by a head coach in college football history. Led Boise State to two B.C.S. bowls, winning each game. Has two undefeated seasons in six years; has lost three games over the last four years. Can do no wrong.

Chris Ault, Nevada
(226-103-1 from 1976-95, 2004-present)

The third-most wins among active coaches, trailing Beamer and Brown. Most wins among active coaches at their current stop. Six double-digit win seasons, including 13 in 2010. Nevada has won 68.6 percent of its games under Ault, 45.7 percent of its games without Ault. Means as much to the program as Snyder to Kansas State, Beamer to Virginia Tech and so on.

Gary Pinkel, Missouri
(85-54 since 2001)

Remade Missouri from perennial underachiever into one of the most consistent programs in football. Before Pinkel, Missouri had won at least eight games in back-to-back years only three times; the Tigers have won at least eight games in each of the last six years. Will be remembered as the head coach who led Missouri into the SEC.

Honorable Mention: Howard Schnellenberger, F.A.U.
(58-74 from 2001-11)

Retired following last season after serving as the program’s only head coach from its inception. He didn’t literally build the program or its new stadium, but his hard work behind the scenes, as a fundraiser and ambassador, provided the money to pay for the work. Won 11 games in his third season and reached bowl play twice, winning both games.

Other options considered but denied for one reason or another: Nick Saban, Mark Richt, Gary Patterson, Chip Kelly and Kyle Whittingham. Agree, disagree? You can’t argue with Beamer or Ault. The rest, among other active coaches, can be put up for debate, which I leave to you below.

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  1. Dan says:

    If Pat Fitzgerald keeps up the god work at Northwestern and actually fulfills his goal of bringing the Purple back to Pasadena…and wins it — You can forget about naming JUST the stadium after him when he retires, the team will likely become the Northwestern Fitzes at that point…

  2. Steve says:

    Ault because of his tenure stretches over two stints and the fact that he is Nevada Football.

    It makes me sick to think about them but Beamer is the biggest no brainer of your bunch like Ault he is VT football, whatever that’s worth.

    Before Pinkle Mizzu was known for losing to Colorado on 5th down so he should get the nod.

    Blakeney goes in the Ault Beamer category.

    Peterson may be worthy simply for not leaving town. But unlike the other guys a foundation had been laid before he got there.

    Mack Brown has a lot of history to compete against and the past was always better. He would have to get at least one more title before he gets his name up there with Royal. Too me it would be like putting Saban’s name up there beside the Bear’s. It isn’t going to happen.

    Grobe sure why not it’s Wake Forest. If a stadium is named in Wake Forest and no one’s there to see it does it really matter. I loath Grobe for the simple fact he sent WVU their worst OC ever in Jeff Mullen. And you can’t find a more boring program in the 6 major confrences then Wake. At least Duke and Indian’s suckage is entertaining.

    So the guys that I think are no brainer faces program historically would be Ault, Blakeny, Beamer. Pinkle needs about 5 more years and some good finishes in the SEC and he will be there with those guys.

  3. yeahno says:

    You left off Rich Brooks Field at Autzen Stadium.

    Paul: Missed it. Oregon doesn’t make a big deal of it (http://www.goducks.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=500&ATCLID=22175) on their Web site. Will add it above.

  4. Steve says:

    Why not Patterson? I’m not on the up and up of TCU football history.

  5. Steve says:

    Shoot I keep forgetting stuff, if Solich stays another 6 or 7 years and keeps up the work I could see OU naming the field after him.

  6. Burnt Orange says:

    Dan Devine is more deserving at Mizzou.

    Brown will never be Royal – joint recognition for the two ? Impossible.

    Plus yet another opportunity to raise a pet peeve – how many of these stadiums were previously War Memorial stadiums dedicated to the sacrifices made by Americans killed in action – only to be ignored when some coach wins a bunch of games or some donor gives a bunch of money. Texas and Arkansas definitely fall into this category.

    Also, cannot believe Bill Murray is not recognized at Duke.

  7. Dan D. says:

    Faurot, not Farout. And officially it is Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium, but everyone just calls it Faurot Field.

    Glad you mentioned Pinkel. If the SEC move works well, he merits some kind of official nod for sure.

  8. Dave says:

    Like Auburn, Army techincally honors TWO coaches with its stadium – Red Blaik was a head coach, of course, but so was Dennis Michie:


  9. Ezra says:

    Steve- the up and up on TCU history is this: when TCU beats Grambling on Sep 8 this year, Gary Patterson will be the winningest coach in TCU history.

    THe stadium is named for Amon Carter, the founder of the Star-Telegram and a Texas philanthropist who donated enough to build the stadium in the late 1920s. The field is named for a big booster and admin later in the century.

    I don’t know what TCU will name after Coach P, but they will find something. If he wins a Big12 title before retiring or taking the UT job when it’s open, Gary Patterson will be, without question, the finest football coach ever to stroll the sidelines in Fort WOrth.

  10. John says:

    NIU has “Brigham Field at Huskie Stadium” Oddly enough Bob Brigham was never a head football coach at NIU but a head wrestling coach along with a student athlete, assistant football coach, AD and special assistant to the university president all for NIU.


  11. Dr. Nick says:

    The most tragic name not on either list is clearly Joe Paterno. He has had arguably the biggest impact on any college football program in history, and I’m guessing that his name will probably never be put on anything else at Penn State. I hope they don’t take it off the library.

  12. Hokieshibe says:

    I hope VT keeps Lane Stadium, but renames Worsham Field… I mean, it’s not like Worsham is a VT legend or anything. He’s just a big donor.

  13. Fitzgerald is a Meathead says:

    That Women’s Lacrosse school has a football team?

  14. USMA78 says:

    Army’s stadium is named for Dennis Michie, who not only founded the Army football team in 1890, but also coached it in 1890 and 1892 (he hired a Yale coach in 1891)

  15. Richard says:

    Biggest miss for me is Bennie Owen of Owen Field at Oklahoma’s Memorial Stadium. Here are the highlights:
    University of Oklahoma from 1905 to 1926, compiling a career college football record of 155–60–19. Owen was also the head basketball coach at Oklahoma from 1908 to 1921, tallying a mark of 113–49, and the head baseball coach at the school from 1906 to 1922, amassing a record of 142–102–4. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1951.

    Not bad for a guy with one arm I would say.

  16. AggieFan says:

    Just a heads up that you have ASU’s stadium listed as “Sun Belt Stadium” – is this in reference to future conference changes?

    Paul: Now that would be something. Thanks, fixed above.

  17. Ryan says:

    Must be a nightmare doing the research for an article like this, but here’s another: Tom Osbourne Field http://www.huskers.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=100&ATCLID=3306

  18. Eksynyt says:

    Another funny note. Autzen Stadium was financed by Philip Autzen, an Oregon State alum.

    Rich Brooks definitely deserves his name on our field. What he did at Oregon was a downright miracle. Remember, there was no Nike help back in 1994.

  19. Eksynyt says:

    Correction: It was Thomas J Autzen, not Philip Autzen.

  20. Burnt Orange says:

    Mack Brown has been at Texas 14 years. He is 6-8 against OU and 10-4 against A&M.

    During his first fourteen years, Royal was 12-2 against OU and 13-1 against A&M. Three national titles.

    Royal’s teams were physical and played with hysterical energy. The line play was simply beautiful. When his team’s played Bryant’s teams at Bama, or Broyle’s teams at Arkansas, the games were the most physical I have ever seen. Royal was 15-5 against Broyles and 2-0-1 against the Bear. The mere thought of Royal and Brown sharing the name of the stadium is almost more than one can take. Calling in sick tomorrow.

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