On Wednesday, Brett McMurphy at Stadium released the exact content we needed for a ho-hum bye week: The definitive list of every FBS college football coach's favorite band or musical artist. Needless to say, it consumed the remainder of Wednesday at the Go Iowa Awesome offices.
But this is college football, which means we're obligated by statute and course of conduct to rank all of these things subjectively. Let's get to it: College football programs ranked by their coaches' preference in music.
130. Jamey Chadwell, Coastal Carolina – Jimmy Buffett
129. Doc Holliday, Marshall – (doesn’t have a favorite musical act)
Music is one of the things that round out the meaning of life. It provides us context and outlet for emotions, and is arguably the art most readily accessible to the masses, largely because it is so emotionally-based. Having no music would make one's life immeasurably worse.
Unless the only music is Jimmy Buffett. Then enjoy the silence.
T-127. Jeff Brohm, Purdue – Toby Keith
T-127. Mark Stoops, Kentucky – Toby Keith
Probably unsurprisingly, given the demographics of coaching, there is a lot of bro country on this list. And while most of it is roughly equal in quality, there are none who are waging a war on proper country music quite like Ol' Solo Cup. Apparently he's hugely popular in the Ohio Valley, though.
126. Clay Helton, USC – Ed Sheeran
A choice worthy of getting Helton fired on the tarmac of an airport.
T-118. Jeremy Pruitt, Tennessee – Kenny Chesney
T-118. Luke Fickell, Cincinnati – Kenny Chesney
T-118. Randy Edsall, UConn – Kenny Chesney
T-118. Matt Wells, Texas Tech – Kenny Chesney
T-118. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern – Kenny Chesney
T-118. Ryan Day, Ohio State – Kenny Chesney
T-118. Skip Holtz, Louisiana Tech – Kenny Chesney
T-118. Scot Loeffler, Bowling Green – Kenny Chesney
Chesney was by FAR the most-chosen musician, picking up eight votes (all eight of these teams are now included with the twelve others that Chesney claims to support). But the love of Chesney's brand of everything's-great, let's-all-have-a-beer-on-a-summer-night bullshit bro country is easy to understand. When you've got a multi-year contract with a multi-million-dollar buyout, why would you listen to music with conflict or consequence? Throw me another Corona!
117. Matt Viator, Louisiana Monroe – Tim McGraw
McGraw's directly responsible for most of modern country music, both its cultural tone-deafness and its saccharine synthesized sappiness. He's the archetype. He gets bonus points for being great in Friday Night Lights, though, because this is kind of a football list.
T-115. Josh Heupel, UCF – Mumford & Sons
T-115. Chip Kelly, UCLA – Mumford & Sons
T-113. Lane Kiffin, FAU – Bon Jovi
T-113. Bill Clark, UAB – Bon Jovi
The mental image of Lane Kiffin rolling through Boca listening to Slippery When Wet is going to be the fuel that gets me through the day.
T-104. P.J. Fleck, Minnesota – Jason Aldean
T-104. Scott Frost, Nebraska – Casey Donahew Band
T-104. Paul Chryst, Wisconsin – Phil Vassar
T-104. Lance Leipold, Buffalo – Phil Vassar
T-104. Kirby Smart, Georgia – Luke Bryan
T-104. Matt Luke, Ole Miss – Jason Aldean
T-104. Chip Lindsey, Troy – Kip Moore
T-104. Chad Lunsford, Georgia Southern – Cole Swindell
T-104. Mike Bloomgren, Rice – Luke Bryan
The vast pool of nondescript bro country is in a tie, as everyone on this list is apparently Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, or wrote songs for Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean. Kip Moore's top song is "Somethin' 'Bout a Truck". The prosecution rests.
103. Jay Hopson, Southern Miss – Meat Loaf
Mea culpa: This one is purely personal. Another lifetime ago, I DJ'd a karaoke show every Tuesday night in a bar located in a lightly-converted McDonald's. Occasionally I'd have a weekend gig, where there would be a healthy pool of karaoke newbies. Tuesday night in the former McDonald's was not that show. You have to be hardcore about your karaoke to show up at 10 p.m. on a Tuesday to sing, and hardcore karaoke people love Meat Loaf because it has a wide vocal range, it's easy to duet, and the songs are all about eight minutes long. I heard so many bad Meat Loaf renditions that it scarred me for life.
T-101. Frank Wilson, UTSA – Frankie Beverly & Maze
T-101. Willie Fritz, Tulane – Frankie Beverly & Maze
100. Geoff Collins, Georgia Tech – Stick Figure
99. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa – Pat Green
Kirk Ferentz likes his music like he likes his coordinators: Not offensive.
T-97. Troy Calhoun, Air Force – Brad Paisley
T-97. Neal Brown, West Virginia – Brad Paisley
T-91. Scott Satterfield, Louisville – Eric Church
T-91. Mack Brown, North Carolina – Eric Church
T-91. Gary Patterson, TCU – Eric Church
T-91. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State – Eric Church
T-91. Mike Neu, Ball State – Eric Church
T-91. Jonathan Smith, Oregon State – Eric Church
Yes, they are the ubiquitous kings of current country music. Yes, Paisley is sitting shotgun with Peyton Manning in every insurance commercial, and Eric Church has his own line of bedroom furniture. Yes, they play their parts to a comical degree. But at least Paisley and Church seem to have some underlying musical talent, and aren't afraid of paying homage to their actual influences. Paisley's musicianship calls back to Vince Gill, and his lyrics clever enough to call back on Kris Kristofferson. Church isn't as country, but he calls songs "Springsteen" and says Jeff Tweedy is "one bad mother" in a song aptly titled "Mr. Misunderstood." We're a site that promotes the idea that it's not plagiarism if you link to it. We should show proper appreciation for a couple of guys who follow that credo.
T-87. Eli Drinkwitz, Appalachian State – Jeremy Riddle
T-87. Blake Anderson, Arkansas State – Zach Williams
T-87. Hugh Freeze, Liberty – Chris Tomlin
T-87. Tom Allen, Indiana – MercyMe
Christian music isn't my thing, and I don't have the time or inclination to check on the quality of these groups, so they're all lumped together in the middle.
86. Nick Rolovich, Hawaii – Ka’ikena Scanlan
T-84. Steve Campbell, South Alabama – Journey
T-84. Mike Houston, East Carolina – Journey
Fifteen years of non-stop "Don't Stop Believing" since the finale of The Sopranos has diminished Journey's rep, but let's face facts: Their music was pretty much garbage to begin with. If music is meant to convey a particular emotion, Journey constantly missed the mark. Let's take, for instance, "Separate Ways." It's probably the best banger in the Journey catalog, a bass-drum-thumping, guitar-gnashing wallop of a rock song about...telling your ex-girlfriend that you hope she finds love and you'll still be friends? In the back lot of a Home Depot? What?
Honestly, they'd be down in the 110s were it not for the post-Journey career of guitarist Neal Schon, who followed up an amazing one-man scorched-earth performance in the VH1 Behind the Music on the band by marrying a Real Housewife and charging fifteen bucks to watch the ceremony on pay-per-view.
83. Herm Edwards, Arizona State – Norman Brown
T-79. Nick Saban, Alabama – Eagles
T-79. Craig Bohl, Wyoming – Eagles
T-79. Chris Creighton, Eastern Michigan – Eagles
T-79. Dana Dimel, UTEP – Eagles
I mean, sure, whatever. If you love The Eagles and have somehow never heard Rumors, you need to. If you have and somehow still love The Eagles, I don't know how to talk to you.
78. Mike Locksley, Maryland – Citizen Cope
77. Bronco Mendenhall, Virginia – Jack Johnson
76. Billy Napier, Louisiana – Coldplay
Coldplay is the modern Eagles.
T-74. Rod Carey, Temple – Zac Brown Band
T-74. Tom Arth, Akron – Zac Brown Band
73. Will Muschamp, South Carolina – Darius Rucker
Welcome to the "Wagon Wheel" portion of the list. But honestly, how is anyone a fan of any of any band between 78 and 73 without being a bigger fan of...
T-68. Sonny Dykes, SMU – Dave Matthews Band
T-68. Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech – Dave Matthews Band
T-68. Tom Herman, Texas – Dave Matthews Band
T-68. Tim Lester, Western Michigan – Dave Matthews Band
T-68. Matt Rhule, Baylor – Dave Matthews Band
Turns out DMB is huge with college football coaches in Texas. In an age where you can pay $12 and pretend you were at any Dave Matthews Band show of the last decade, it's almost like DMB is running its own Longhorn Network.
67. Jake Spavital, Texas State – Whiskey Myers
66. Seth Littrell, North Texas – Jerry Jeff Walker
Just a couple of Texas guys reppin' the brand.
65. Les Miles, Kansas – 21 Savage
I'm sorry, what was that again?
T-63. Frank Solich, Ohio – Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band
T-63. Jeff Tedford, Fresno State – Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band
Solich knows a thing or two about long and lonesome highways east of Omaha.
T-60. Pat Narduzzi, Pitt – AC/DC
T-60. Bobby Wilder, Old Dominion – AC/DC
T-60. Rocky Long, San Diego State – AC/DC
"Pat Nardoozi," "Bobby Wilder," and "Rocky Long" are all three names of AC/DC songs.
59. Brent Brennan, San Jose State – Snoop Dogg
T-57. Kevin Sumlin, Arizona – Drake
T-57. Sean Lewis, Kent State – Drake
Rap game volume shooters, together as they should be. They're good for one masterpiece in twelve. And so are Drake and Snoop.
T-55. Gus Malzahn, Auburn – The Cars
T-55. Gary Andersen, Utah State – The Cars
54. Chris Klieman, Kansas State – Def Leppard
53. Doug Martin, New Mexico State – Alison Krauss
52. Jay Norvell, Nevada – Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes
51. Charlie Strong, South Florida – John Legend
50. Steve Addazio, Boston College – James Taylor
49. Thomas Hammock, NIU – Boyz II Men
T-47. Dan Mullen, Florida – U2
T-47. Manny Diaz, Miami – U2
Huh can you believe that Florida and Miami would choose a band that hasn't been great since 2002 despite everyone claiming they're "back" every time a new record comes out? Shocking.
46. David Cutcliffe, Duke – John Mellencamp
T-44. Nunzio Campanile, Rutgers – Billy Joel
T-44. Chuck Martin, Miami (Ohio) – Billy Joel
Rutgers has fully bought into that whole "New York's college football team" thing, huh?
T-42. Jim McElwain, Central Michigan – Earth, Wind & Fire
T-42. Ken Niumatalolo, Navy – Earth, Wind & Fire
T-39. Dabo Swinney, Clemson – Garth Brooks
T-39. Will Healy, Charlotte – Garth Brooks
T-39. Bryan Harsin, Boise State – Garth Brooks
Yes, Garth Brooks is partially responsible for what happened to country music. But it would be a lot easier to dump him in McGraw Territory if it weren't for the fact that his catalog is FULL OF BANGERS. "Rodeo" still hits. So does "The Thunder Rolls." Hell, even "Friends in Low Places" is still fun and relevant. "Calling Baton Rouge" gets this kind of response in Baton Rouge, even though it's not a song about football (or, for that matter, Baton Rouge):
Throw in his role in Fred's Got Slacks, and I'm pro-Garth.
38. David Shaw, Stanford – Sade
This is both shocking and completely appropriate, because when Shaw's offense is working, I hear "Smooth Operator" in my head.
37. Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Same goes for Riley and "Aeroplane".
T-35. Chris Petersen, Washington – Creedence Clearwater Revival
T-35. Ed Orgeron, LSU – Creedence Clearwater Revival
How fitting is it that a band from the Bay Area that always sounded like it was from the Bayou was chosen by (1) a guy who played quarterback at Cal, and (2) a guy who sounds like the actual Bayou?
T-33. Matt Campbell, Iowa State – Van Halen
T-33. Tony Sanchez, UNLV – Van Halen
I like to think that Campbell hadn't heard Van Halen until six weeks ago, and now it's just stuck in his head. You're welcome, King Broseph.
32. Rick Stockstill, Middle Tennessee – The Temptations
31. Mike Leach, Washington State – Neil Young
T-29. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan – Bob Marley
T-29. Kalani Sitake, BYU – Bob Marley
Does anyone actually believe that Harbaugh is out here listening to Bob Marley, just clappin' on the one and the three to "Three Little Birds" every day? My bet is that there is some Class of 2023 quarterback going through a Marley phase right now, and Harbaugh is using this list as a mechanism for getting an early advantage in the race for 2022 sleepover visits.
28. Dave Clawson, Wake Forest – Talking Heads
Dave Clawson is the coolest thing to ever happen to Wake Forest.
27. Lovie Smith, Illinois – George Clinton
26. Walt Bell, UMass – Tool
"Walt Bell, UMass Tool"— RossWB (@RossWB) October 30, 2019
long dirges about pain and darkness seem really on-brand for UMASS football
25. Mike Norvell, Memphis – Tom Petty
24. Dino Babers, Syracuse – James Brown
23. Philip Montgomery, Tulsa – Otis Redding
22. Mario Cristobal, Oregon – Guns N’ Roses
WELCOME TO THE DUCK POND
WE WEAR SHIRTS OF WHITE
AND IF YOU GOT THE MONEY HONEY
YOU CAN SIT WITH PHIL KNIGHT
T-20. Brian Kelly, Notre Dame – Bruce Springsteen
T-20. Justin Wilcox, Cal – Bruce Springsteen
Yes, it's a shocker that Springsteen only got two votes from this group of Boomers. Yes, much like Notre Dame, Springsteen's output in the last 15 years has been wildly overrated. But -- again like Notre Dame -- the part of his career before 1990 alone is worthy of this placement, as universal in its influence and acclaim.
19. Bob Davie, New Mexico – Van Morrison
...but Van Morrison is better.
T-15. Chad Morris, Arkansas – George Strait
T-15. Barry Odom, Missouri – George Strait
T-15. Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M – George Strait
T-15. Tyson Helton, Western Kentucky – George Strait
These four schools are within rock-throwing distance of each other, relatively speaking, and all of them settled on the greatest modern country artist. If only they were this good at playing football.
14. Butch Davis, FIU – Fleetwood Mac
Hey Saban, you want an album-by-album, member-by-member tale of the tape between Fleetwood Mac and the pedestrian Eagles?
13. Dave Doeren, NC State – Merle Haggard
12. Shawn Elliott, Georgia State – Metallica
Georgia State is metal A.F.
11. Mike Bobo, Colorado State – Michael Jackson
If there's someone on this list that can deal with the fallout of still publicly being a Michael Jackson fan in the Year of our Lord Two Thousand and Nineteen, it's Mike Bobo, a man who is still somehow deemed responsible for a Georgia offense he left five years ago.
T-6. James Franklin, Penn State – Jay-Z
T-6. Jason Candle, Toledo – Jay-Z
T-6. Mel Tucker, Colorado – Jay-Z
T-6. Joe Moorhead, Mississippi State – The Notorious B.I.G.
T-6. Willie Taggart, Florida State – Tupac
I'm not going to go anywhere near the debate as to who is best of Hova, Biggie, and Tupac. That is better left to 2016 Penn State offensive meetings between Franklin and Moorhead. Rather, isn't it obvious that Taggart has only started listening to Tupac after reading about Jerry Foxhoven and devising an exit strategy from Florida State?
5. Kyle Whittingham, Utah – The Rolling Stones
The Stones were picked by one coach, but also by two conference commissioners (Pac-12 commish Larry Scott and MWC commish Craig Thompson). The most dangerous band in the world, circa 1969, is just fifty years later the voice of management.
Still kicks ass, though.
4. Derek Mason, Vanderbilt – Marvin Gaye
T-2. Dana Holgorsen, Houston – Prince
T-2. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State – Prince
Can you imagine how off-the-chain nuts coaches meetings were at Oklahoma State in 2010, with Gundy as head coach and Holgo as OC? Both of them just drawing up uncoverable variants on four verts, then throwing the marker in the air and having it stay there?
1. Jeff Monken, Army – Buddy Guy
Jeff Monken is a bona fide badass with this one. Buddy Guy is responsible for a serious chunk of the history of guitar-based rock and pop music, and never gets his proper due for it. Kinda like Army football. Mad respect.