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Five good, five bad alumni hires

4/9/2015

There are numerous examples of football coaches leading their alma maters to great heights and some examples where hiring an alum didn't work out so well.

Here are five of the most successful marriages between head coaches and their alma maters and five that didn't develop so smoothly:

The good

Bear Bryant, Alabama: Any story of success at one's alma mater has to start here. Bryant put together one of the great runs in college football history after returning to his alma mater in 1958. Bryant won six national titles and 13 SEC titles and retired after the 1982 season with the most coaching wins in history at the time (323).

Steve Spurrier, Florida: The Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback returned to Gainesville in 1990 and woke up a program that had long been considered one of the sport's sleeping giants. One of the game's great offensive minds, Spurrier led Florida to six SEC titles and Florida's first national championship (1996) in 12 seasons at the helm.

Knute Rockne, Notre Dame: One of the sport's great innovators and legendary coaches, Rockne went 105-12-5 and won four national titles in 13 seasons as Notre Dame's head coach. Rockne's career was cut short when he died in a plane crash at the age of 43.

Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech: By far the longest-tenured head coach in the FBS today, it's difficult to picture Virginia Tech without first thinking of Beamer. In 28 seasons as the Hokies' coach, Beamer has led his team to a 231-115-2 record, seven conference titles and 22 consecutive bowl games.

Frank Leahy, Notre Dame: As the Fighting Irish coach from 1941 to 1943 and 1946 to '53, Leahy led the program to an 87-11-9 record and four national titles. Notre Dame finished in the top six in the polls in nine of his 11 seasons, ran off a 39-game unbeaten streak and boasted four Heisman winners during Leahy's tenure.

The bad

Gene Stallings, Texas A&M: One of Bryant's famed "Junction Boys" at Texas A&M, Stallings was hired as head coach in 1965 at age 29. His Aggies did win a Southwest Conference title in 1967 with a 7-4 record, but that was his only winning season in seven years. He was fired after the 1971 season, having compiled a 27-45-1 record at A&M.

Jon Embree, Colorado: Embree was a young assistant coach for Colorado's strong teams in the 1990s, but he was unable to duplicate that success when he returned from the NFL coaching ranks in 2011 to accept his alma mater's head coaching position. He was fired after going 4-21 in two seasons -- including 1-11 in 2012, the worst season in Buffaloes history.

Ray Goff, Georgia: Rarely is it easy to follow a legend, as Goff learned when he replaced his college coach, Vince Dooley, at Georgia. Goff had a couple of good seasons -- namely a 10-2 year in 1992 when the Bulldogs tied for the SEC East title -- but UGA was mostly mediocre in his seven-year tenure, and he was fired after going 6-6 in 1995.

Charlie Weis, Notre Dame: Weis became the first Notre Dame alumnus in decades to serve as head coach, and he initially seemed like an excellent choice, leading the Fighting Irish to a 19-6 record in his first two seasons. But his 2007 team went 3-9 (the highest loss total in school history) and he was fired two seasons later, after going 7-6 in 2008 and 6-6 in 2009.

Watson Brown, Vanderbilt: The former Commodores quarterback took over as head coach in 1986, but was unable to turn the program into a winner in five seasons in Nashville. Vandy accumulated a 10-45 record (4-29 in the SEC) in Brown's five seasons and he was fired in 1990 after posting his third 1-10 record at the school.