Joe Paterno’s record as winningest coach is now safe with Nick Saban’s retirement

Nick Saban retires as the greatest coach in college football history, but he's far from the winningest. Joe Paterno's record of 409 wins remains safe, and may never be threatened.
Penn State v Alabama
Penn State v Alabama / Handout/GettyImages

On Wednesday evening, Nick Saban shocked the college football world with a surprise retirement after 17 years at Alabama. Over his 28 years as a college football head coach, Saban amassed seven national championships, six with the Crimson Tide and one at LSU, and posted a career record of 297-71-1. 

Saban will retire as the greatest coach in college football history, but as he walks away he forgoes his chase of Joe Paterno as the winningest coach in college football history. Over his 48 years at Penn State, Paterno won a staggering 409 In 2015, the NCAA reinstated 111 of Paterno’s wins that were previously stripped away. 

Just three wins away from his 300th, Saban walks away with the fifth most wins of all-time, 26 wins behind Bear Bryant, and 112 short of Paterno. Bobby Bowden is second with 357. 

At 72 years old, Saban may have still had another decade on the sidelines if he wanted to, but it appears that the monumental shifts in the landscape of college sports are driving some of the most established coaches away. With Saban now off the board, Mack Brown has the most wins of any active coach at 276, seventh all-time. 

Brown, like Saban, is 72 years old but is not winning at the same rate at North Carolina as Saban, who had won at least 10 games every year since 2008. 

So, for now, Paterno’s record of all-time wins is safe. It’s not likely that any coach will ever come close, especially not at just one program.

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