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Rating the Nation-Best Coaches

There will never be another Bear.

Paul Bear Bryant became the most revered man in the Southeast during his three decades as Alabama’s coach.

Ahead of the college football season, The Associated Press asked its panel of voters in the Top 25 poll to weigh in on the best coaches in college football history — not counting active coaches.

Bryant was voted No. 1, followed by some of the most recognizable and successful coaches in sports history.

The magnificent seven who received more than one mention from the voters:

1. Bryant (Kentucky, 1946-53; Texas A&M, 1954-57; Alabama 1958-82). Retired as the winningest coach in major college history with 323 victories and five AP national championships. Was the face of college football for decades.

2. Bobby Bowden (Howard College, 1954-55; West Virginia, 1970-75; Florida State 1876-2009). Won 389 games (12 were vacated by the NCAA) and turned Florida State in the most consistent national title contender college football has ever had. For 14 straight seasons under Bowden, the Seminoles finished ranked in the top five of the AP poll and won two national titles.

3. Joe Paterno (Penn State, 1966-2011). JoePa won 409 games, more than any coach in major college coach, though 111 were later vacated by the NCAA. Penn State won two national championships and had four other teams that went unbeaten and didn’t finish No. 1 under Paterno.

4. Tom Osborne (Nebraska 1973-97). Never won less than nine games in any season and finished his brilliant career at his best, winning three national championships in his last four seasons. Retired with a winning percentage of .836.

5. Eddie Robinson (Grambling, 1941-1997). The winningest coach in NCAA Division I history with 408 victories. He won or shared 18 Southwestern Athletic Conference titles.

6. Knute Rockne (Notre Dame, 1918-1930). Rockne finished his career with an .860 winning percentage and delivered the famous “Win one for the Gipper” speech. Died in a plane crash at 43.

7. Bud Wilkinson (Oklahoma, 1947-63). His Sooners won three national championships and still hold the record with 47 straight victories.

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