The College Football Coaching Tree

Like a family tree, the Coaching Tree shows all the relationships between college and professional football’s various coaches. Our tree only includes individuals who have ultimately served as head coaches at some point in their careers. Additionally, we use the following terminology in our tree.

Tree Tops – Like a family tree, these are the oldest connections at the top of the tree. The oldest Tree Tops reach back to the 1880’s and include some of the most prominent individuals in the early development of the game.

Roots – These are the developmental relationships in a coach’s career – that is, the head coaches from which a future head coach is descended. “Early” roots can include prominent high school coaches or the actual father of a coach if the father was also a coach at some point in his career. “College” roots include all the head coaches a future head coach played for in college along with any assistant positions he may have held at colleges prior to becoming a head coach. “Pro” roots include all the head coaches a future head coach played for or coached under professionally.

Branches – Each coach represents a branch of the overall Coaching Tree, but each coach also stands alone as his own Coaching Tree. Branches of a coach’s tree are represented by the head coaches who played or coached directly under that coach.

Prominent Tree Tops

There are four Tree Tops that represent the deepest roots of the Coaching Tree.

Harvard, Lucius Littauer and Pop Warner

The oldest prominent Tree Top in the Coaching Tree dates back to Lucius Littauer. Littauer was the first official head coach in Harvard’s football history holding the position in 1881. The program didn’t make the position permanent until 1890, but this line of coaches includes the first five coaches in Harvard’s history including Frank A. Mason (1886) and the co-head coaching teams of George C. Adams and George A. Stewart (1890-1892) along with Stewart’s single-year collaboration with Everett J. Lake (1893). Technically, you can skip Lake and go right to the next coach in the line, former Harvard player Marshall “Ma” Newell who played all three years for Adams and Stewart. After leaving Harvard, Newell spent two years as the coach at Cornell, and it’s here where this line gives rise to one of the game’s early coaching giants in the form of Glenn “Pop” Warner. Warner spent 44 years as a head coach in college football beginning in 1895 and continuing through 1938, and many of the game’s greatest coaches in the game today are descended from this line.

Yale, Walter Camp and Amos Alonzo Stagg

Walter Camp was one of the game’s early innovators, a man so important to the game’s development that he’s known as the “Father of American Football.” He played the game when he was a student at Yale from 1876 to 1882, and he later served as the program’s first head coach beginning in 1888. That’s where this branch of the Coaching Tree begins, and one of Camp’s players in his first two seasons as Yale’s coach (1888-1889) would soon become another one of the game’s most important young coaches. Amos Alonzo Stagg’s coaching career began in 1890, and he would serve continuously as a head coach until 1946 continuing on after that as an assistant coach before finally retiring at the age of 96 as the “Grand Old Man of Football.” Many other coaches important to the early development of the game are in this tree, and it continues to produce fruit even to this day.

Woody Wagenhorst, John Heisman and Georgia Tech

E.O. “Woody” Wagenhorst is a name mostly forgotten by modern college football fans, but his name stands at the top of one of college football’s most important branches. Wagenhorst played college football at Princeton from 1886 to 1887 before taking over for Frank Dole as the head coach at Pennsylvania in 1888. He coached the team for four years through the 1891 season, and during his final two seasons, he had the services of an undersized center named John W. Heisman, a transfer from Brown which did not yet have a coach. Wagenhorst had a respectable 39-18 record in his four years leading Penn, but his coaching career ended in 1892 when he graduated from Pennsylvania’s law school. Heisman was just getting started, however, and in the fall of 1892 he took over the program at Oberlin beginning a head coaching career that would ultimately last 36 years until his retirement from Rice University. Despite his long career, there were relatively few head coaches that got their start directly under Heisman, and two other coaches deserve special mention in this tree. Heisman spent 16 seasons at Georgia Tech (1904-1919) before turning the reins over to William Alexander who would lead the Yellow Jackets for 25 years (1920-1944). He in turn passed the torch to Bobby Dodd who spent another 22 seasons (1945-1966) as the head coach in Atlanta, and the consecutive tenures of Heisman, Alexander and Dodd – the three longest in school history – ultimately spanned 63 years. Many of American football’s current professional and college coaches can trace their roots to the Wagenhorst/Heisman branch of the Coaching Tree.

Alexander S. Lilley, Ohio State and Michigan

When it comes to the Coaching Tree, Ohio State and Michigan are as close as the rivalry that binds these two universities together on the field. This branch of the coaching tree begins with the coach of Ohio State’s very first team in 1890, a man named Alexander S. Lilley. It then passes to one of his players, Frank Rane who is later listed as F. William “John” Rane, the second coach in the history of the West Virginia program who led the Mountaineers in 1893 and 1894. During his second season in Morgantown, he coached a young player named Fielding Yost who in the years to come would join the coaching profession. In 1901, Yost took over the program at Michigan becoming the first great coach in the Wolverines’ history, and a man whose named is still revered in Ann Arbor. But the Ohio State-Michigan connections don’t stop there. During his final season at Michigan, Yost coached a halfback named George Rich who later became the coach at Denison. One of Rich’s young pupils there was a tackle named Woody Hayes who would go on to become the winningest coach in Ohio State history during a career that spanned 28 years (1951-1978). However, before arriving at Ohio State, Hayes also coached at Miami (OH), known as the ‘Cradle of Coaches,’ and it was here that he coached a young Bo Schembechler who would later join him for several seasons as an assistant in Columbus. Of course, Schembechler would eventually make his mark as the winningest coach at Michigan, passing Yost along the way for top honors. The Ohio State-Michigan connections continue today as current Ohio State coach Urban Meyer’s tree also traces back to Lilley while current Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh played for Schembechler.

NameTree Home PageFromTo
Adams, George C.George C. Adams Tree18901892
Alexander, William "Bill"William "Bill" Alexander Tree19201944
Amen, Paul J.Paul J. Amen Tree19561959
Applewhite, MajorMajor Applewhite Tree2016Present
Arians, BruceBruce Arians Tree1983Present
Arnsparger, BillBill Arnsparger Tree19741986
Bailiff, DavidDavid Bailiff Tree2004Present
Barfield, DougDoug Barfield Tree19761980
Barnhill, JohnJohn Barnhill Tree19411949
Battle, BillBill Battle Tree19701976
Belichick, BillBill Belichick Tree1975Present
Belichick, SteveSteve Belichick Tree19461948
Berry, ElmerElmer Berry Tree19171921
Berry, RaymondRaymond Berry Tree19841989
Bible, Dana X.Dana X. Bible Tree19131946
Bierman, BernieBernie Bierman Tree19191950
Blackburn, George "Blackie"Blackie Blackburn Tree19481970
Bowden, BobbyBobby Bowden Tree19592009
Bowden, TerryTerry Bowden Tree1987Present
Bowden, TommyTommy Bowden Tree19972008
Blaik, Earl "Red"Earl "Red" Blaik Tree19341958
Brickley, CharlesCharles Brickley Tree19151921
Brooks, William A.William A. Brooks Tree18941894
Brown, MackMack Brown Tree19832013
Broyles, FrankFrank Broyles Tree19571976
Bruce, EarleEarle Bruce Tree19731992
Bruney, FredFred Bruney Tree19851985
Bryant, Paul "Bear"Paul "Bear" Bryant Tree19451982
Bugel, JoeJoe Bugel Tree19901997
Caddas, ChesterChester Caddas Tree19721981
Cameron, CamCam Cameron Tree19972007
Camp, WalterWalter Camp Tree (Tree Top)18881895
Caragher, RonRon Caragher Tree20072016
Carlen, JimJim Carlen Tree19661981
Carlson, Robert S. "Bob"Bob Carlson Tree19401952
Carr, LloydLloyd Carr Tree19952007
Chaump, GeorgeGeorge Chaump Tree19821994
Cherry, BlairBlair Cherry Tree19471950
Christiansen, JackJack Christiansen Tree19631976
Cignetti, FrankFrank Cignetti Tree19762005
Claiborne, JerryJerry Claiborne Tree19611989
Cofall, StanStan Cofall Tree19151928
Colletto, JimJim Colletto Tree19751996
Collins, BobbyBobby Collins Tree19751986
Collis, GerryGerry Collis Tree19671983
Coryell, DonDon Coryell Tree19531986
Crowder, EddieEddie Crowder Tree19631973
Croom, SylvesterSylvester Croom Tree20042008
Crum, DickDick Crum Tree19741990
Crutchfield, BillBill Crutchfield Tree19541956
Currey, DaveDave Currey Tree19771988
Curry, BillBill Curry Tree19802012
Daly, Charles D.Charles D. Daly Tree19131922
Davie, BobBob Davie Tree1997Present
Davis, Parke H.Parke H. Davis Tree18931897
Dibblee, Benjamin H.Benjamin H. Dibblee Tree18991900
Dickey, DougDoug Dickey Tree19641978
Dietzel, PaulPaul Dietzel Tree19551974
Ditka, MikeMike Ditka Tree19821999
Dodd, BobbyBobby Dodd Tree19451966
Donahue, TerryTerry Donahue Tree19761995
Dooley, VinceVince Dooley Tree19641988
Drew, Harold "Red"Harold "Red" Drew Tree19211954
Drewer, MiltMilt Drewer Tree19571963
DuBose, MikeMike DuBose Tree19972000
Duncan, DonnieDonnie Duncan Tree19791982
Dye, PatPat Dye Tree19741992
Elliott, Chalmers "Bump"Bump Elliott Tree19591968
Erickson, DennisDennis Erickson Tree19822011
Evashevski, ForestForest Evashevski Tree19411960
Fairbanks, ChuckChuck Fairbanks Tree19671983
Fisher, JimboJimbo Fisher Tree2010Present
Fitzgerald, DennisDennis Fitzgerald Tree19751977
Fleck, P.J.P.J. Fleck Tree2013Present
Foote, HowardHoward Foote Tree19551956
Forbes, William CameronWilliam Cameron Forbes Tree18971898
Ford, DannyDanny Ford Tree19781997
Forzano, RickRick Forzano Tree19641976
Fry, HaydenHayden Fry Tree19621998
Gartman, EarlEarl Gartman Tree19491969
Gillman, SidSid Gillman Tree19441974
Glanville, JerryJerry Glanville Tree19672009
Graham, ToddTodd Graham Tree2006Present
Graves, RayRay Graves Tree19601969
Gustafson, AndyAndy Gustafson Tree19261963
Harbaugh, JackJack Harbaugh Tree19822002
Harbaugh, JimJim Harbaugh Tree2004Present
Harper, JesseJesse Harper Tree19061917
Harper, JoeJoe Harper Tree19681996
Hayes, WoodyWoody Hayes Tree19461978
Heacock, JimJim Heacock Tree19881995
Heisman, John W.John W. Heisman Tree18931927
Herman, TomTom Herman Tree2015Present
Hildebrand, BillBill Hildebrand Tree19521963
Hollingsworth, A.B.A.B. Hollingsworth Tree19361936
Holtz, LouLou Holtz Tree19692004
Howell, Jim LeeJim Lee Howell Tree19471960
Hudspeth, TommyTommy Hudspeth Tree19641981
James, DonDon James Tree19711992
Johnson, EllisEllis Johnson Tree19832012
Johnson, JimmyJimmy Johnson Tree19791988
Jones, JoeyJoey Jones Tree2006Present
Jones, LarryLarry Jones Tree19711973
Jones, Lawrence "Biff"Lawrence "Biff" Jones Tree19261941
Kiesling, WaltWalt Kiesling Tree19391956
Kiffin, LaneLane Kiffin Tree2007Present
Kiffin, MonteMonte Kiffin Tree19801982
Kill, JerryJerry Kill Tree19942015
Killinger, GlennGlenn Killinger Tree19271931
King, DeweyDewey King Tree19701979
Kragthorpe, SteveSteve Kragthorpe Tree20032009
Kromer, Leon B.Leon B. Kromer Tree19011901
Lake, Everett J.Everett J. Lake Tree18931893
Landry, TomTom Landry Tree19601988
Leach, MikeMike Leach Tree2000Present
LeBeau, DickDick LeBeau Tree20002002
Lilley, Alexander S.Alexander S. Lilley Tree (Tree Top)18901891
Littauer, Lucius N.Lucius N. Littauer Tree (Tree Top)18811881
Livingston, WalterWalter Livingston Tree19111926
Long, ChuckChuck Long Tree20062008
Longman, Frank "Shorty"Frank "Shorty" Longman Tree19061910
Lubick, SonnySonny Lubick Tree19782007
MacDermott, BillBill MacDermott Tree19711986
Mackovic, JohnJohn Mackovic Tree19782003
Majors, JohnnyJohnny Majors Tree19681992
Mallory, BillBill Mallory Tree19691996
Maloney, FrankFrank Maloney Tree19741980
Mangino, MarkMark Mangino Tree20022009
Mans, GeorgeGeorge Mans Tree19741975
Marchibroda, TedTed Marchibroda Tree19751998
Marks, JackJack Marks Tree19111912
Marmion, BryanBryan Marmion Tree19982001
Martin, BenBen Martin Tree19561977
Mason, Frank A.Frank A. Mason Tree18861907
Mason, GlenGlen Mason Tree19862006
Mather, Charles "Chuck"Chuck Mather Tree19541957
McCafferty, DonDon McCafferty Tree19701973
McCartney, BillBill McCartney Tree19821994
McClain, DaveDave McClain Tree19711985
McClendon, CharlieCharlie McClendon Tree19621979
McCrory, HarryHarry McCrory Tree18951895
McCurdy, JamesJames McCurdy Tree18961916
McKay, JohnJohn McKay Tree19601984
McKeen, AllynAllyn McKeen Tree19371948
McMullen, JoeJoe McMullen Tree19501970
McVay, JohnJohn McVay Tree19651975
Mehre, Harry J.Harry J. Mehre Tree19291930
Meyer, UrbanUrban Meyer Tree2001Present
Miles, LesLes Miles Tree20012016
Miller, RedRed Miller Tree19771983
Mitchell, JackJack Mitchell Tree19531966
Moeller, GaryGary Moeller Tree19772000
Moore, BudBud Moore Tree19751978
Moss, PerryPerry Moss Tree19591968
Mudra, DarrellDarrell Mudra Tree19741975
Neale, GreasyGreasy Neale Tree19151950
Nehlen, DonDon Nehlen Tree19682000
Newell, Marshall "Ma"Marshall Newell Tree18941895
Neyland, Robert "Bob"Bob Neyland Tree19261952
Nolan, Dennis E.Dennis E. Nolan Tree19021902
Nolan, DickDick Nolan Tree19681992
Nolan, MikeMike Nolan Tree20052008
Novak, JoeJoe Novak Tree19962007
O'Neal, PatPat O'Neal Tree19721989
Owen, SteveSteve Owen Tree19301962
Owens, JimJim Owens Tree19571974
Pace, BillBill Pace Tree19671972
Palmer, ChrisChris Palmer Tree19862010
Parcells, BillBill Parcells Tree19782006
Pardee, JackJack Pardee Tree19741995
Parratt, PeggyPeggy Parratt Tree19081916
Parseghian, AraAra Parseghian Tree19511974
Paterno, JoeJoe Paterno Tree19662011
Pelini, BoBo Pelini Tree2003Present
Perkins, RayRay Perkins Tree19792013
Perles, GeorgeGeorge Perles Tree19831994
Perry, DoytDoyt Perry Tree19551964
Peterson, BillBill Peterson Tree19601971
Pont, JohnJohn Pont Tree19561992
Prothro, TommyTommy Prothro Tree19551970
Purinton, RoyceRoyce Purinton Tree19021917
Randleman, RonRon Randleman Tree19692004
Rane, F. William "John"F. William "John" Rane Tree18931894
Reed, TomTom Reed Tree19781985
Rees, Trevor J.Trevor J. Rees Tree19461963
Reeves, DanDan Reeves Tree19812003
Rein, BoBo Rein Tree19761979
Rhoads, PaulPaul Rhoads Tree2009 2015
Rich, GeorgeGeorge Rich Tree19311934
Riley, MikeMike Riley Tree1987Present
Robinson, GregGreg Robinson Tree20052008
Rockne, KnuteKnute Rockne Tree19181930
Rodgers, PepperPepper Rodgers Tree19671979
Rodriguez, RichRich Rodriguez Tree1988Present
Rogers, TomTom Rogers Tree19351941
Rush, CliveClive Rush Tree19601976
Saban, NickNick Saban Tree1990Present
Sanders, Harry "Red"Harry "Red" Sanders Tree19401957
Schembechler, BoBo Schembechler Tree19631989
Schiano, GregGreg Schiano Tree20012013
Schnellenberger, HowardHoward Schnellenberger Tree19732011
Schudel, PaulPaul Schudel Tree19852003
Shaughnessy, ClarkClark Shaughnessy Tree19151965
Sherrill, JackieJackie Sherrill Tree19762003
Shira, CharleyCharley Shira Tree19671972
Shula, DonDon Shula Tree19631995
Skrien, DaveDave Skrien Tree19611984
Sloan, SteveSteve Sloan Tree19731976
Smart, KirbyKirby Smart Tree2016Present
Smith, LarryLarry Smith Tree19762000
Snyder, BillBill Snyder Tree1989Present
Spaulding, William "Bill"Bill Spaulding Tree19071938
Spurrier, SteveSteve Spurrier Tree19872015
Squires, ScottScott Squires Tree19962006
Stagg, Amos AlonzoAmos Alonzo Stagg Tree18921946
Stallings, GeneGene Stallings Tree19651996
Staub, RalphRalph Staub Tree19771980
Stewart, George A.George A. Stewart Tree18901893
Stobart, ChuckChuck Stobart Tree19771994
Stockstill, RickRick Stockstill Tree2006Present
Stoops, BobBob Stoops Tree1999Present
Stoops, MarkMark Stoops Tree2013Present
Stoops, MikeMike Stoops Tree20042011
Stovall, JerryJerry Stovall Tree19801983
Strader, RedRed Strader Tree19281955
Strong, CharlieCharlie Strong Tree2004Present
Sumlin, KevinKevin Sumlin Tree2008Present
Sutherland, JockJock Sutherland Tree19191938
Swinney, DaboDabo Swinney Coaching Tree2008Present
Switzer, BarryBarry Switzer Tree19731988
Tate, BillBill Tate Tree19641968
Thomas, Frank W.Frank W. Thomas Coaching Tree19251946
Tinsley, Gaynell "Gus"Gus Tinsley Tree19371954
Tranquill, GaryGary Tranquill Tree19821986
Trenchard, Thomas Gawthrop "Doggie"Thomas "Doggie" Trenchard Tree18951915
Tressel, JimJim Tressel Tree19862010
Tyler, BobBob Tyler Tree19732002
Uzelac, ElliotElliot Uzelac Tree19751989
Vanderlinden, RonRon Vanderlinden Tree19972000
Wagenhorst, E.O. "Woody"Woody Wagenhorst Tree (Tree Top)18881891
Walbrick, HankHank Walbrick Tree19901998
Warmath, MurrayMurray Warmath Tree19521971
Warner, Glenn Scobey "Pop"Glenn "Pop" Warner Tree18951938
Waters, BertBert Waters Tree18961896
White, William C. "Bill"Bill White Tree19401954
Wieman, Elton "Tad"Tad Wieman Tree19271942
Williams, Henry L. "Doc"Henry L. "Doc" Williams Tree18911921
Williamson, RichardRichard Williamson Tree19751991
Wilson, KevinKevin Wilson Tree2011Present
Wilson, Shirley "Red"Shirley "Red" Wilson Tree19671982
Wolf, Raymond "Bear"Raymond "Bear" Wolf Tree19361953
Woodruff, George "Bob"George "Bob" Woodruff Tree19471959
Woodruff, George C. "Kid"George "Kid" Woodruff Tree19231927
Yost, FieldingFielding Yost Coaching Tree18971926
Young, JimJim Young Tree19731990
Zuppke, Bob "The Little Dutchman"Bob Zuppke Tree19131941