Both Florida’s Urban Meyer and Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops, who will face off in the national-championship game on Jan. 8, grew up in Ohio. Recent title-winners Jim Tressel of Ohio State and Les Miles of LSU are native Ohioans, as are two of the college game’s rising stars, Nebraska’s Bo Pelini and Missouri’s Gary Pinkel. The list of coaches with Ohio ties includes Alabama’s Nick Saban, who played at Kent State and coached at Toledo, and USC’s Pete Carroll, who was an Ohio State assistant in 1979.
Less than 4% of the country’s population lives in Ohio, but 15% of college football’s major-conference head coaches were born there — the most for any state. And this volume is more than matched by quality: 14 of the last 18 teams that have made it to the national title game have had head coaches with Ohio connections.
Four decades ago, when Ohio State’s Woody Hayes, Michigan’s Bo Schembechler and Notre Dame’s Ara Parseghian prowled the college sidelines — and fellow Ohioans Don Shula and Chuck Noll ruled the NFL — Ohio’s coaching supremacy was a foregone conclusion. But at a time when the best football is generally played in the South — teams from the Southeastern Conference have won the last two national titles — the rise of a new generation of Ohio coaches belies the popular perception that Midwestern football is slow, staid and increasingly obsolete.
Facts are stubborn things. Read the whole thing.