Kentucky has three of the top 100 college football coaches over the past 50 years, highlighted by one of the all-time greats in Bear Bryant.
ESPN’s Bill Connelly did a complete ranking of the best coaches to roam the sidelines over the last half-century, with Bryant coming in at No. 2 overall, Jerry Claiborne at No. 74 and Rich Brooks at No. 81.
Here’s what Connelly had to say about Bryant, followed by brief excerpts on Claiborne and Brooks:
2. Bear Bryant
Teams: Maryland (1945), Kentucky (1946-53), Texas A&M (1954-57), Alabama (1958-1982)
National titles: 1961, 1964-65, 1978-79
Conference titles: 1956 SWC, 1950, 1961, 1964-66, 1971-75, 1977-79 and 1981 SEC
He nearly won national titles at Kentucky and A&M, and when “Mama called,” he came home to his alma mater, won three national titles in five years, then responded to a late-1960s funk by integrating his roster, adopting the Wishbone and ripping off seven top-fives in eight years.
74. Jerry Claiborne (Virginia Tech 1961-70, Maryland 1972-81, Kentucky 1982-89)
81. Rich Brooks (Oregon 1977-94, Kentucky 2003-09)
Bryant spent eight years at Kentucky (1946-53), leading the Wildcats to their first bowl appearance in 1947 and SEC conference title in 1950, with the latter team finishing with a school-best 11-1 record and Sugar Bowl victory over Oklahoma. He also led Kentucky to appearances in the Great Lakes Bowl, Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl Classic, finishing with a final record of 60-23-5 overall and 22-19-4 before resigning in 1953.
Claiborne finished his eight-year career in Lexington with a 41-46-3 overall record, with his biggest season coming in 1984 when the Wildcats went 9-3 and won the Hall of Fame Classic. UK finished the year ranked No. 19 overall in the Coaches and AP Polls.
To round out the trio, Brooks spent seven years at Kentucky, finishing with a final record of 39-47. After starting 9-25 with a 4-20 record in the SEC, Brooks responded with four consecutive bowl appearances (three victories) and a 30-22 overall record over the course of his four final seasons in Lexington.
How many years will it take for Mark Stoops to make the list?