The Wall Street Journal compiled a list of coaches and their records against the top 25 and it confirms a lot of what you think already, and confuses the hell out of you on a few other things. This is with good reason: it's not ideally set up, and the data's a little misleading. (Just like this beautiful, addled sport.)
1. This isn't a really collection of data you'd want to lean on too hard. It is, we believe, a compilation of records against teams ranked at the time of matchup, not based on final finish. If you're into whether a coach can perform well against what writers anticipate before they see a single game, it's really, really useful, and you don't really know what useful things are. Here is a can opener, please go fix your car with it.
2. Still, if you want to have some innocent and dumb fun comparing how people live up to often-wobbly poll rankings, you can.
3. For instance: Bob Stoops is a really fucking great coach, at least against rankings-as-played. You forget that sometimes thanks to outmoded and deeply popular ways of thinking about him, but when he's not raging against the SEC or snatching dollars from the hands of his starving players all Bob Stoops does is win most of the football games he is supposed to win. He's also standing on a giant institution's shoulders, one that was very good before he got there, and one that will probably be good when he leaves. (See also: Nick Saban.)
4. Also: daaaaaaaamn, David Shaw. 14-4, even in this sort of busted comparison, is damn impressive.
5. Take a moment of understanding for the poor souls who have to fight upwards from the Kansas States and Texas Techs of the world, i.e. Bill Snyder and Mike Leach who scuttled their records with years of butting their heads against better depth charts and larger budgets. The most impressive mark in this whole collection might be Gary Patterson at TCU, since he's .500 against ranked competition despite coaching at relative upstart TCU. He also plays guitar in a country band in Ft. Worth under a stage name five nights a week and retweets Earth_Pics like a madman, so it's all doubly amazing when you think of it like that.
6. Will Muschamp! WILL MUSCHAMP.
7. WHO IS GIVING RANDY EDSALL MONEYYYYYYYYYYYY
8. Exact conversation with Bill C when we suggested doing this against final rankings for each coach:
Bill Connelly not sure the best way to do that, though ... CFB Reference has week-to-weeks, but it's with current poll rank, not eventual
Spencer Hall I think you just have to do them all by hand :(
Bill Connelly yuuuuuck
In short: no one is ever doing this!