The Wall Street Journal has published a wonderful chart showcasing every current Power Five head coach's career record versus Top 25 opponents.
Before we can draw any conclusions, we must first acknowledge that numbers here can be incredibly deceiving. For example, the situation David Shaw inherited at Stanford is entirely different than what Mark Stoops walked into at Kentucky. Also, games against Top 25 opponents are, by definition, very difficult. A .500 mark is great, and anything better is pretty darn impressive.
With that said:
- Holy cow, David Shaw. He's won nearly 80 percent of his games against top 25 teams.
- A hearty handshake is owed to Bob Stoops (.685 winning percentage), Nick Saban (.588 overall, .700 at Alabama) Urban Meyer (.676) and Les Miles (.563 overall, .661 at LSU).
- More than anything, this chart is a great illustration how doggedly difficult it is to get a struggling program off the ground in a Power Five conference. Bret Bielema went 0-6 last year at Arkansas. Charlie Weis is 0-8 at Kansas. Tim Beckman and Kevin Wilson are a combined 0-11 in the Big Ten. New head coaches were a combined 9-43 last season against ranked opponents. Take out Gus Malzahn and Mark Helfrich and they were 3-40. Three and forty.
- Even new coaches that have seen success in their first few years have taken a beating against Top 25 teams. Rich Rod is 3-7 at Arizona. James Franklin went 1-8 against Vanderbilt. David Cutcliffe is 2-13 at Duke. Hugh Freeze is 2-7 against Ole Miss. Heck, Dan Mullen is 2-21 at Mississippi State. That's an .087 winning percentage.
- The plethora of sub-.500 records makes me chuckle at the results of ESPN's poll where nearly half of all Power Five coaches would prefer to exclusively play other Power Five schools. Believe me, guys, you don't.