Analyzing college football coaches’ favorite musical artists


ESPN conducted a survey of all 128 Division I college football coaches, asking them to name their favorite musical artist. The full list of responses is here. My cursory analysis is here:  

  • Unsurprisingly, Bruce Springsteen, the Eagles, and George Strait all are well-represented.
  • Surprisingly, two coaches– Tulane’s Willie Fritz and UMass’ Mark Whipple– picked The Spinners! I’ve featured them as a Friday Jam selection here before, so I definitely approve of the choice. The surprise comes from how well-represented they are relative to other, more prolific Motown groups. Three coaches– MTSU’s Rick Stockstill, Arkansas’ Brett Bielema, and Texas State’s Everett Withers– chose The Temptations, and Tulsa‘s Philip Montgomery had Otis Redding, but nobody named Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, or Stevie Wonder.
  • Another two-coach special: Indiana’s Kevin Wilson and Ohio’s Frank Solich both named one of Michigan’s greatest rock’n’rollers, Bob Seger, as their favorites. Actually, more specifically, they chose the full ensemble, Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, which is the right call.
  • Tennessee two-step? One more interesting pairing comes from the state of Tennessee, where UT’s Butch Jones chose The Gap Band, while Vanderbilt’s Derek Mason picked Charlie Wilson, the former lead singer of The Gap Band. Nice subtle move by Mason to send a message to Jones that VU’s going to leave the Vols in the dust this weekend.
  • One last pairing: Doug Martin (New Mexico State), naming Alison Krauss & Union Station, and Bobby Petrino(!!!) (Louisville), naming Stevie Nicks, were the only coaches to choose female artists. UPDATE: Sia, favorite of Bob Diaco (UConn), apparently is a woman, as may be Sade, favorite of ECU’s Scottie Montgomery. Of course, neither Fleetwood Mac (Gary Patterson, TCU) nor Talking Heads (below) are all-male bands.
  • A third two-coach surprise: The Cars! Both Oregon State’s Gary Anderson and Auburn’s Gus Malzahn picked the band with the deepest debut album of all time.
  • Three coaches wouldn’t answer at all. Stanford’s David Shaw, Minnesota’s Tracy Claeys, and Marshall’s Doc Holiday all declined to respond. But hey, who knew Marshall had a coach named Doc Holiday?!
  • Other unique selections that caught my eye:
    • Dave Clawson (Wake Forest): Talking Heads
    • Mike Gundy (Oklahoma State): Prince. Two other coaches also named The Artist (WVU’s Dana Holgorsen and Kent State’s Paul Haynes), but it isn’t quite what I was expecting from Gundy.
    • Jay Hopson (Southern Mississippi): Meat Loaf
    • Jim Harbaugh (Michigan): Bob Marley. My goodness.
    • Mark Richt (Miami): David Richt. Choosing his son is the most Coach Richt thing ever.
    • Bob Davie (New Mexico): Van Morrison. Surprising less for the selection than the, Bob Davie’s still coaching?
    • Frank Wilson (UTSA): Trombone Shorty. One of the minority of coaches choosing what I would call a “current artist,” making me actually believe he didn’t have his SID answer this survey along with making his weekly Coaches’ Poll vote on his behalf and really does listen to music. Football Guy counterpoint: If Wilson spent less time paying attention to novelties like “current music” and more time in the film room, his mid-major team might have a better record.
    • Mike Jinks (Bowling Green): Chris Stapleton. Another “current artist” guy, which is neat to see, but, again, probably not going to follow in the footsteps of former BGSU head coach Urban Meyer (who, likely at Tim Tebow’s direction, chose Sister Hazel, a Florida-based band Tebow thinks is the name of a Catholic nun).
    • Bill Snyder (Kansas State): Frank Sinatra. While most coaches chose established, classic acts, some chose more current recording artists. Snyder, at age seventy six, may be the one coach who, from his vantage point, falls into both camps.

The full list is here. Leave a comment below with anything that catches your eye (or ear).


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