A year ago, we took our first stab at predicting which current head coaches would one day have a place in the College Football Hall of Fame. With the National Football Foundation set to announce the 2014 class on Thursday, it only feels right to circle back and revise our list of coaches either on their way or just outside the cusp of coaching immortality.
First, here's a reminder of the criteria and what it means, from the National Football Foundation: "A coach becomes eligible three years after retirement or immediately following retirement provided he is at least 70 years of age. Active coaches become eligible at 75 years of age. He must have been a head coach for a minimum of 10 years and coached at least 100 games with a .600 winning percentage."
That 10-year rule means coaches like Jim Harbaugh and Chip Kelly are out unless their NFL stays are shorter than anticipated. And the .600 winning percentage rule means that a coach like Jim Grobe, whose 2006 ACC title makes him undoubtedly the greatest coach in the modern history of Wake Forest football, could wind up on the outside looking in when all is said and done with a 106-107-1 record, even with a much higher degree of difficulty than conference-mate Jimbo Fisher.
With that out of the way, let's break this down in tiers.
Absolute, 100 Percent "Doesn't Need to Win Another Game and He's In" No Doubters
Nick Saban - 165-57-1 (.742) at Toledo, Michigan State, LSU and Alabama. Saban was a member of this tier before he even stepped foot in Tuscaloosa. Seven seasons and three national championships later, he can probably have his own floor named in his honor.
Urban Meyer - 128-25 (.837) at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and Ohio State. Meyer is the rare coach that has two national titles and two undefeated seasons - spread throughout three different schools - to his credit.
Frank Beamer - 266-132-4 (.667) at Murray State and Virginia Tech. Like a few other coaches on this list, Beamer's success on the football field has created prosperity for the entire university, as the Hokies have climbed from independence to the Big East to the ACC during his tenure. Eight conference championships and 13 New Year's Day bowl appearances don't hurt, either.
Bob Stoops - 160-39 (.804) at Oklahoma. The Sooners have camped out on the Big 12 championship podium since Stoops' arrival with eight conference crowns to go with the 2000 national championship.
Gary Patterson - 120-44 (.732) at TCU. Patterson deserves inclusion simply for what he means for the entirety of TCU. In the annals of Texas Christian University - not the football program, the entire school - Patterson deserves his own chapter for charging the Frogs through Conference USA to the Mountain West to the Big East to the Big 12. While we're talking chapters, though, there's no doubt that TCU's jump to the Big 12 creates its own chapter in Patterson's legacy. Patterson is just 11-14 since joining the Big 12.
Bill Snyder - 167-87-1 (.657) at Kansas State. At a place where four wins was a successful season, Snyder has twice put the Wildcats within a whisker of playing for a national championship. If he's not the best coach in college football history, he's in the team picture. One year from now, Snyder will be eligible to become just the fourth coach ever to join the Hall of Fame as an active coach.
Steve Spurrier - 219-79-2 (.733) at Duke, Florida and South Carolina. Already in as a player, Spurrier is the winningest coach in Florida history and well on his way to becoming the same at South Carolina. If you wanted to make the case Spurrier has compiled the best career of anyone on this list, I wouldn't fight you.
Les Miles - 123-45 (.732) at Oklahoma State and LSU. Before he won the 2007 national championship and two SEC titles in Baton Rouge, Miles compiled the best winning percentage of any Oklahoma State coach since before 1950.
Brian Kelly - 208-72-2 (.741) at Grand Valley State, Central Michigan, Cincinnati and Notre Dame. Similar to Meyer, Kelly has orchestrated two national championship teams at one school and then led two different schools to undefeated regular seasons. When one of those schools is Notre Dame, with five coaches already in the Hall of Fame, you might as well go ahead and get your ring fitted.
Mark Richt - 126-45 (.737) at Georgia. With two SEC championships, a claim to six SEC East titles and two BCS bowl wins, Richt has done everything short of winning a national championship.
Larry Blakeney - 174-105-1 (.623) at Troy. Like Patterson and Beamer, Blakeney's two decades running the football program have helped raise the entire university's profile. Since Blakeney's hiring in 1991, the Trojans have risen from a Divison II independent to a member of the Sun Belt Conference, making seven I-AA playoff appearances and five bowl games (with five straight Sun Belt titles from 2006-10) along the way.
Just Biding His Time
Chris Petersen - 92-13 (.876) at Boise State and Washington. Like Patterson, Petersen opens up another chapter in his legacy by leaving Boise State for Washington. The difference, of course, is that Petersen is joining an established Power Five member, not morphing a small private school into a Power Five school on the fly.
Nothing to Worry About, But a Top 5 Finish or Two Wouldn't Hurt
Bronco Mendenhall - 82-34 (.707) at BYU. The best coach in BYU history not named LaVell Edwards, Mendenhall has never missed the postseason in eight seasons at the helm, registering five double-digit win seasons, two Mountain West titles and three top 15 finishes. All he needs now is a signature season.
Kyle Whittingham - 76-39 (.661) at Utah. Though the Utes have yet to find their footing in the Pac-12, that by itself is a compliment to the work Whittingham's program put in while members of the Mountain West Conference. Taking over for Urban Meyer, Whittingham guided Utah to seven straight bowl seasons, including the best year in school history - a 13-0 campaign in 2008 capped by a Sugar Bowl win over Alabama and a No. 2 final AP ranking. Similar to Patterson, Whittingham's winning percentage has understandably tailed off since Utah joined the Pac-12. The Utes are 18-19 in three seasons since leaving the Mountain West.
There's a Lot of Good There, But Is There Enough Greatness?
Frank Solich - 124-69 (.642) at Nebraska and Ohio. The Huskers never missed a bowl game in Solich's six seasons, as he took Nebraska to the national title game in the 2001 season and is still the last coach to bring a conference championship and BCS bowl win to Lincoln. Solich has also taken Ohio to three MAC championship games and five bowl games.
Mark Dantonio - 82-46 (.641) at Cincinnati and Michigan State. Dantonio did not warrant inclusion on last year's list, but a Big Ten and Rose Bowl double dip changes the conversation. Dantonio started his career just 40-34 with no conference championships in his first half-dozen campaigns, but has gone a scorching 42-12 with one league title, a share of another and two division championships in the four years since.
Gary Pinkel - 175-100-3 (.635) at Toledo and Missouri. Pinkel led Toledo to the 1995 MAC title and has since won five division championships at his two stops, but no conference crowns. He took the Tigers to eight bowls from 2003-11, peaking with a 12-2 mark and Cotton Bowl win in 2007, and the Tigers certainly wouldn't be in the SEC today without his sustained success.
Mike Leach - 93-59 (.612) at Texas Tech and Washington State. The Red Raiders went 10-for-10 on bowl appearances in Mike Leach's tenure on the South Plains, peaking with an 11-2 season in 2008, but never played in a Big 12 championship game or a BCS game. However, you can't discuss Leach without acknowledging the part he played in popularizing the most prevalent offensive system in college football today.
Paul Johnson - 154-71 (.684) at Georgia Southern, Navy and Georgia Tech. Johnson has won his way at each of his three stops, claiming two national titles with the Eagles, taking Navy bowls in five of his six seasons and has yet to miss a bowl in five seasons in Atlanta.
"Give Us a Solid Decade Like That and We'll Talk"
David Shaw - 34-7 (.829) at Stanford. Three seasons in is far too early for projections like this, but Shaw's 11-2 debut season and back-to-back Pac-12 championships is as impressive a start as any coach in recent college football history.
Jimbo Fisher - 45-10 (.818) at Florida State. Fisher is a newcomer to this list, but that's what a national championship will do for you. Fisher is 26-2 in his last two seasons and all signs say he's just getting started.
Gus Malzahn - 21-5 (.808) at Arkansas State and Auburn. Two years is ridiculously early to start talking Hall of Fame but, goodness, it's hard to beat the start Malzahn has had with two conference championships at two different schools and the greatest one-year turnaround in college football history.
Dabo Swinney - 51-23 (.689) at Clemson. Another new addition, Swinney led Clemson to an ACC championship in 2011 and became the first head coach in the state of South Carolina to ever win a BCS game in January, as he is quick to point out.
Mike Gundy - 77-38 (.670) at Oklahoma State. After a 4-7 opening season, the rest of Gundy's tenure has been the golden age of Oklahoma State football. The Cowboys' 59 wins since 2008 are the most in school history over a six-year span. Gundy's team came within a breath of playing for the national title in 2011 and still managed to go 12-1, winning its first outright Big 12 championship
Art Briles - 78-60 (.565) at Houston and Baylor. Already a legend in the Texas high school ranks, Briles brought Houston the 2006 Conference USA title and has brought Baylor to its peak in the modern era with a Heisman Trophy in 2011 and the school's first conference championship in a generation in 2013. It's all about getting his winning percentage to that magic .600 number.
Kevin Sumlin - 55-23 (.705) at Houston and Texas A&M. With Texas A&M's first 11-win season since 1998, first Heisman Trophy winner since 1957 and first top five finish since 1956, Sumlin's debut blew the doors off even the most maroon of Aggies' expectations.
Still Playing Their Way Into Contention: Gary Andersen, Bret Bielema, David Cutcliffe, Brady Hoke, Mark Hudspeth, Butch Jones, Ken Niumatalolo, Rich Rodriguez, Charlie Strong, Dabo Swinney.