For a story about what Kirby Smart is about to do at Georgia, we spoke to Steve Spurrier, Phillip Fulmer, Ralph Friedgen and Ray Goff, some of the notables who have coached their alma maters. We also compiled a list of the current head coaches who are coaching where they played.
Here are some other notable head coaches in history who did so. Sometimes it goes well. Sometimes it doesn’t:
Gene Stallings, Texas A&M: Before winning a national championship at Alabama, Stallings was actually a disappointing hire at his alma mater. The Aggies went 27-45-1 under Stallings from 1965-71. Stallings would go on to better years in the NFL and Alabama, while Texas A&M got a spark in the 1970s under Jackie Sherrill – an Alabama grad.
Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech: There was a reason Beamer, after lifting Virginia Tech to unprecedented success, never left Blacksburg for another school: He was a loyal alum. Beamer retired after last season, having gone 238-121-2. His son Shane, also a Virginia Tech graduate, is now Kirby Smart’s special teams coach at Georgia.
Johnny Majors, Tennessee: Majors played at Tennessee and was later the head coach there for 15 years. But he won his lone national title at Pittsburgh. Majors was pushed out during the 1992 season, and replaced by fellow alumnus Phillip Fulmer.
Frank Solich, Nebraska: Solich replaced the legendary Tom Osborne and was initially very successful, going 43-9 his first four years. But after going 7-7 and 9-3 Nebraska fired Solich, in what was a controversial move, and the Cornhuskers haven’t had much sustained success since then. Solich took the Ohio job in 2005 and remains there, going 80-61.
Mike Shula, Alabama: The son of Don Shula started for three seasons at quarterback for the Crimson Tide, then returned in 2003 to be head coach. It didn’t go well, as he was fired after going 26-23 in four seasons. After a long wait, Alabama hired Nick Saban.
Al Groh, Virginia: Here’s another one that just didn’t quite work out, though with more success. Hired away from the New York Jets, where Groh was head coach for one season, the former Virginia defensive end lasted nine seasons as head coach, going 59-54, with five winning seasons. He was let go after the 2009 season.
William Alexander, Georgia Tech: Alexander played for the Yellow Jackets under John Heisman (a Pennsylvania graduate) from 1911-12, then returned to be head ccoach from 1920-44, going 134-95-15. That’s second only to Bobby Dodd (who went to Tennessee).
Shug Jordan, Auburn: One of the namesakes of Auburn’s stadium, Jordan played both football and basketball for the Tigers, then returned as football coach from 1951-75, going 175-83-7. His Auburn team in 1957 shared the national championship with Ohio State.
Terry Donahue, UCLA: A defensive tackle as a player, Donahue coached UCLA from 1976-95, going 151-74-8.