Greatest Football Coaches in Ohio State History

By David Hayes
Urban Meyer led Ohio State to six New Year's Six bowls in his seven seasons as a head coach in Columbus.
Urban Meyer led Ohio State to six New Year's Six bowls in his seven seasons as a head coach in Columbus. / Andy Lyons/Getty Images
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The Ohio State Buckeyes are among the top of college football's most elite and storied programs, and you don't get a seat that kind of table without earning it over sustained periods of success. Having spent more weeks ranked No. 1 in the AP Top-25 Poll than any other school, produced the most first-round NFL draft picks and totaled more than 920 wins with the second-highest winning percentage in FBS history (.729), it's safe to say that Ohio State has.

With countless athletic and coaching talents passing through Columbus for more than a century, here's a look at the top three head coaches to lead the Buckeyes onto the field in Ohio State history.

3. Jim Tressel (2001-10)

When Jim Tressel took over head coaching responsibilities for Ohio State in 2001, Michigan had run up a 10-2-1 (W-L-D) record against the Buckeyes in the previous 13 meetings of college football's biggest rivalry. However, to say Tressel quickly flipped that script would be an understatement, leading OSU to victories over the Wolverines in each of his first two seasons before eventually leaving Columbus with a stellar 9-1 career mark against "That State Up North". Tressel would also take Ohio State to six New Year's Six bowl games and back-to-back BCS National Championship appearances in 2006-07, and help develop the 2006 Heisman Trophy winner, QB Troy Smith, along the way. When Tressel's 10 seasons leading the Buckeyes came to an end after the 2010 campaign, his Ohio State teams were a combined 106–22 (.828) to show for it.

2. Urban Meyer (2012-18)

Despite of some of the controversy tied to him off the field, Meyer's consistent and dominant success as a head coach is among the sports' greatest. Meyer's Ohio State teams went an unbelievable 86-9 (or 83-9 accounting for the first three games of 2018 coached by Ryan Day during Meyer's suspension), and he brought the Buckeyes to six New Year's Six bowls, three College Football Playoffs and one CFP National Championship (2014) in seven years at the helm, which is a list of accomplishments some programs (let alone head coaches) will likely never achieve in the next half decade. While only seven of his 15 career bowl appearances came with Ohio State, Meyer's 12-3 bowl record (.800) is the best in college football history among head coaches with more than 10 bowl appearances. Not to mention, Meyer also posted a perfect 7-0 record against Michigan.

1. Woody Hayes (1951-78)

Meyer may have both recency bias and efficiency on his side for ranking on this list, but Woody Hayes has a résumé that will almost certainly take anyone else another quarter century in Columbus to top. In his 28 seasons coaching the Buckeyes, Hayes' teams went a combined 205-61-10 (.761) and brought home 13 Big Ten titles and five national championship crowns (including the 1961 and 1970 seasons). Even though Hayes' 16-11-1 career record against Michigan is noticeably less impressive than Meyer's, that might be the only slight against him for owning the top spot on this list.


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David Hayes is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, David Hayes also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username DavidWHayes. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.

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