The University of Texas’ 948 NCAA football wins puts the Longhorns in a tie for the fourth-most victories in college football history. Over the years, Texas has established itself as one of the game’s true powerhouses -- winning four national titles in the process.

The Longhorns narrowly missed out on this season’s championship game, but a fifth national title might not be too far away. As thoughts in Austin turn to the 2024 season, this moment offers a chance to look back at the head coaches who have played the biggest roles in making Texas the juggernaut that it is today. Here is our top 10 ranking of the all-time greatest Longhorns head football coaches.

Who is the Texas Longhorns head coach in the 2023 college football season?

Steve Sarkisian is the head coach of the Texas Longhorns in 2023. After posting a losing record in his first year with the program, Sarkisian did a great job turning things around. His Longhorns team is coming off a painful Sugar Bowl loss to the Washington Huskies, but that disappointment hardly overshadows a very impressive 12-1 season that included a 38-24 win over Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide.

As is often the case with top college programs, Sarkisian is now faced with the prospect of losing some of star players to the NFL, but another crack at a fifth national title surely can’t be far away.

History of Texas Longhorns Football Coaches

Just like any college program, Texas football has experienced its fair share of ups and downs. Those who lifted the team up from its down periods were some of the greatest coaches that college football has ever known. The all-time top 10 list that follows features three College Hall of Fame inductees in Darrell Royal, Mack Brown, and Dana Bible, as well as key figures such as Eugene Van Gent, who led the Longhorns to their first conference championship back in 1916.

Since Van Gent’s early success, the Longhorns have won four national titles and 30 more conference crowns. We will review them all as we look back at Texas’ 10 greatest head football coaches.

Ranking the 10 Greatest Head Coaches in Texas Longhorns Football History

  1. Eugene Van Gent

Season at Texas: 1916

Career Record: 7-2-0 (.778 winning percentage)

The fact that he spent just one season in charge of the Longhorns hardly suggests that Eugene Van Gent wasn’t a particularly significant former Texas football coach. He coached the team for nine games, during which time the Longhorns went 7-2.

The significance of Van Gent’s lone 1916 season cannot be understated. That year he became the first Longhorns coach to secure a Southwest Conference championship. During the 1916 season, Texas defeated three of its biggest rivals -- Texas A&M, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.

Beating all three of those teams on top of winning the program’s first conference title certainly makes Van Gent a worthy member of this list.

  1. Dave Allerdice

Seasons at Texas: 1911 to 1915

Career Record: 33-7 (.825 winning percentage)

At the age of 25, Dave Allerdice became the youngest head coach in Texas Longhorns football history. He oversaw a very successful period for the program, posting a winning season every year. His best team, the 1914 edition, was unbeaten at 8-0. It was the last season in a three-year stretch that saw the Longhorns go 22-2 under Allerdice.

Unfortunately, this dominance came against lesser opponents because Texas had not yet joined the Southwest Conference, which was founded in 1914. Given their lack of major-conference opposition, the Longhorns were never considered one of the top three teams in the country during the Allerdice years. That’s one reason why Allerdice ranks lower on this list than his impressive winning percentage might suggest. A career record of 33-7 and .825 winning percentage certainly qualifies for at least the No. 9 spot.

  1. Ed Price

Seasons at Texas: 1951 to 1956

Career Record: 33-27-1 (.541 winning percentage)

Ed Price’s tenure at Texas began at a confusing time for the team. Price was thrust into the limelight after the sudden and unexpected retirement of Blair Cherry. He dealt with the situation well by leading the Longhorns to a 7-3 record in his debut 1951 season. The winning continued with records of 9-2 in 1952 and 7-3 in 1953, which included two Southwest Conference (SWC) titles and a Cotton Bowl victory.

These successes came in the aftermath of Cherry’s final 9-2 season, but life under Price unfortunately deteriorated rapidly after his first three seasons of winning football. In 1954, the Longhorns endured their first losing season in a decade, and their record declined even more drastically to 1-9 in 1956. What had initially looked like it might be a brilliant coaching career, took a sudden and devastating turn for the worse over its last three seasons.

It's hardly a surprise that Price was replaced after the 1956 season by a rather important man named Darrell Royal, who will show up later in this list.

  1. Clyde Littlefield

Seasons at Texas: 1927 to 1933

Career Record: 44-18-6 (.691 winning percentage)

Clyde Littlefield was a legendary Texas coach across multiple sports. Not only did he have success coaching the Longhorns football team, he also led Texas to 25 conference track and field championships over the course of his remarkable, four-decade career.

During the years he coached the football team, Littlefield’s Longhorns went 44-18-1, which gives him a solid but not spectacular .691 career winning percentage. He makes this list because he helped Texas elevate its reputation in the college game by winning two conference titles between 1928 and 1930.

Littlefield was known for producing a fearsome defense, which helped the team go 8-1-1 in 1930 -- his best season in charge of the program.

  1. Fred Akers

Seasons at Texas: 1977 to 1986

Career Record: 86-31-2 (.731 winning percentage)

A .731 winning percentage helps Fred Akers stand out as one of the most successful head coaches in Texas football history. He had the tricky task of taking over from the legendary Darrell Royal in 1977 after the fan base had become used to winning. Longhorns fans were happy with Akers’ 86 career wins, but his 2-7 career record in bowl games became a problem.

With Akers at the helm, Texas won two conference championships, but the coach will ultimately be remembered for his ineffectiveness in the postseason and what could have been.

There is no doubt he was still a good coach, however. His teams finished in the AP Top 10 five times, and he is also credited for developing Heisman Trophy-winning running back Earl Campbell. Akers is just a few postseason wins away from being ranked much higher on this list.

  1. Berry Whitaker

Seasons at Texas: 1920 to 1922

Career Record: 22-3-1 (.865 winning percentage)

When the Longhorns were still a relatively young football program, it was head coach Berry Whitaker who helped Texas prove it belonged among the college game’s elite. In his first season, Whitaker led the team to an impressive 8-0 record in 1920. He followed that up with a 6-1-1 record and second-place Southwest Conference finish in 1921.

His third season would unfortunately be his last, as Whitaker cited the mental toll of losses as his reason for stepping down. His decision to quit is proof of the high standard that he held himself and his team to, as the Longhorns went 7-2 in 1922 -- once again finishing second in the conference. Whitaker’s three-year stretch as head coach saw the team win 22 of 26 games.

Whitaker’s .865 winning percentage is the best of any man who was the Longhorns’ head coach for more than one season. He helped launch Texas’ first-ever stretch of dominance in the SWC, which included the 1920 conference title, and there is no doubt that he deserves to be on this list.

  1. Dana X. Bible

Seasons at Texas: 1937 to 1946

Career Record: 63-31-3 (.665 winning percentage)

Dana Xenophon Bible oversaw a defining period of Texas football, taking over an underperforming team and turning it into a consistent force atop the college game. A career .665 winning percentage is actually very impressive when one considers that Bible inherited a team that had managed just one winning season in its previous four.

Bible endured 18 losses over his first three years as he rebuilt the Texas program, but the team was humming by 1940, when the Longhorns went 8-2. They improved to 8-1-1 in 1941 and were even ranked as the nation’s No. 1 team at one point in the season.

After completing his rebuilding process, Bible had a truly dominant Texas Longhorns team. Texas finished with a Top 15 ranking in five of Bible’s final six seasons, winning three conference titles during that stretch.

Bible is the first coach on this top 10 list who was also inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, but that had more to do with his success as the head coach at Texas A&M. With the Aggies in 1919, he put together a season that saw his team outscore opponents 275-0 on its way to the national championship.

  1. Blair Cherry

Seasons at Texas: 1947 to 1950

Career Record: 32-10-1 (.756 winning percentage)

It is fitting that Blair Cherry landed right next to Dana Bible on this list, because Bible took Cherry under his wing and eventually turned the program over to him. Ironically, Cherry had been considered for the head coaching job in 1937 before it was ultimately given to Bible.

In 1947, Cherry picked up right where his predecessor left off -- leading the Longhorns to only their second-ever double-digit win season in his first year at the helm. Prior to the season, Cherry transitioned the offense from a single-wing formation to a T-formation, which helped the team finish fifth in the nation.

The following year, Cherry led the Longhorns to a slightly less impressive 7-3-1 record, but they also scored an Orange Bowl victory over eighth-ranked Georgia. NFL teams were offering Cherry jobs in the professional ranks, but he opted to continue plying his trade at the college level.

His best year came in 1950, which also marked the end of his short but successful tenure as Texas’ head football coach. The team went 9-2 that year, winning the Southwest Conference title and finishing third in the national rankings. Despite all that success, it was the perfect time for Cherry to walk away at the top of his game. He cited ulcers, insomnia, and harsh criticism from Texas football fans as his reasons for stepping down.

  1. Mack Brown

Seasons at Texas: 1998 to 2013

Career Record: 158-48 (.767 winning percentage)

Mack Brown, who spent 16 years at the helm in Texas, is one of the longest-serving head coaches in Longhorns football history. Given all those years, his career winning percentage of .767 seems even more incredible as it proves how he was able to combine excellence with longevity.

Brown inherited an inconsistent Longhorns team that had shown flashes of potential. He earned a reputation for scouting and recruiting talented players, and he immediately got to work by leading the Longhorns to nine-win seasons in each of his first three years.

Those nine-win efforts were a drastic improvement over the 4-7 record achieved by Brown’s predecessor, John Mackovic, in his final year with the team, but Brown took it up another notch in 2001. An 11-2 record that year marked the beginning of nine consecutive seasons with at least 10 wins under Brown’s leadership. He instilled a level of excellence among his players, producing a consistently dominant unit that was one of the most feared in the country.

There was no doubting that Brown’s team had national championship potential, and the Longhorns realized it in 2005 on the biggest stage of all. After going 12-0 during the regular season, Texas faced the No. 1-ranked USC Trojans in the national championship game. It was a remarkable day of offensive action, and the Longhorns came away with a 41-38 win. This gave Texas its first national championship in 34 years, and no Longhorns team has won the title since.

Brown solidified his legendary status by winning the Big 12 championship for a second time in 2009. His career Longhorns resume includes a national championship, two Big 12 championships, and six Big 12 South Division Championships. He was also named college football’s Coach of the Year for his efforts in both 2005 and 2009. A true Texas legend, Brown was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2018.

  1. Darrell K. Royal

Seasons at Texas: 1957 to 1976

Career Record: 167-47-5 (.774 winning percentage)

There is no doubt who should be No. 1 on this list of the all-time greatest Texas head football coaches. Darrell Royal spent 20 years running the Texas program, which makes his .774 winning percentage a truly remarkable achievement.

In 1957, Royal took over a Longhorns team that had declined in dramatic fashion over the latter years of Ed Price’s time as head coach. Price’s final season was a dismal 1-9 effort, but Royal managed to flip it around to a 6-4-1 record just one year later. What followed were 19 consecutive winning seasons, which cemented Texas’s reputation as one of the powerhouses of the college game.

Royal was the head coach of Texas’ first three national championship teams. He guided the Longhorns to either a championship or co-championship in 11 Southwest Conference seasons and made 16 Bowl appearances. His first two national titles came in 1963 and 1969. Both were undefeated seasons -- a feat that the program would not achieve again until 2005.

The fact that he won 77 percent of his team’s games and three national titles over 20 years makes it clear that Royal deserves to be No. 1 on our list. He was also recognized as the AFCA Coach of the Year in 1963 and 1970, along with many other accolades. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983, and there is little doubt that he was the best head coach in Texas Longhorns football history.

Parameters of Rankings

These head coach rankings are based on the length of each man’s tenure as well as his overall success, with a focus on championships and career winning percentage.


Bet on College Football Odds at Betway

Find season-long college football odds on the Betway sportsbook. You'll find all the latest spreads, totals, moneylines, and college football futures. Or call it how you see it with our live betting in-play. All your NCAAF betting needs are covered at our online sportsbook.

Visit Betway’s college football picks page for picks and predictions throughout the season.

Betway Sports Betting States