Now, calling any coach not named Nick Saban the greatest college football coach of all time will raise some eyebrows. Especially a coach like Lance Leipold who has only been coaching at the P5 level for 2 seasons. Surely his accomplishment don’t stack up? You might be surprised.
Lance Leipolds head coaching career started at Wisconsin Whitewater, a D3 program, in 2007. In his first season they went 14-1 and won the national championship. Now, he didn’t build this out of nowhere – Wisconsin Whitewater was a D3 powerhouse and had 2 undefeated regular seasons in 2006 and 2007 (though, with Leipold still on the coaching staff, he gets credit for that too). But, the sustained success is more important. Leipold would go on to win 6 national titles in his 8 season stint at Wisconsin Whitewater, appearing in 7. Even Saban never had a streak like that. In fact, Saban never even won a D3 title!
The next stop of Leipolds career was at Buffalo. Upon his arrival, Buffalo was coming off a 5-6 season, with their only bowl appearance since 2010 being a beat down from San Diego State in the Idaho Potato Bowl.
In Leipold’s first season there, they held the same record. After a down year following, with Leipold able to develop “his guys”, they went 6-6 and returned to a bowl game. They would appear in bowls for three years straight, unprecedented for Buffalo football, with wins over Marshall and Georgia Southern in the Camellia bowl. They amassed an enormous 10 wins in 2018, which to this day is the record for Buffalo football. Did Saban ever bring a Mac team to a 10 win season ? Perhaps one day he’ll return to his alma mater Kent State and do the same, but for now it’s a glaring question mark on his record.
And now, Leipold’s Kansas stint: while we’ve already seen the results, it truly feels the best is yet to come. Leipold brought Kansas to a bowl game with a 6-6 record in only his second season there, Kansas’ first bowl game since 2008. Leipold has appeared on many coach of the year lists already, but this isn’t enough. Turning around Kansas was always considered the Holy Grail of coaching accomplishments. With Leipold already arguably accomplishing this, it’s time we give him his flowers – Lance Leipold is the greatest coach of all time (and far better than Nick Saban).