College Football exists in a weird world where wins, although they can never be erased from the hearts and minds of the players and fans who saw them, can be vacated (and reinstated) at a moment’s notice. The most recent example of that in the CFB universe was the 111 wins that got stripped from the record in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. This can often lead to an awkward series of win counting that can make sorting the best college coaches a bit of a contentious issue (and this doesn’t just happen in football: ask John Calipari).
We bring up the Penn State issue because the NCAA went back and overturned their previous stripping years later, giving those wins back to Joe Paterno. Whether or not this is the right thing to do is not really the point here — you could make the argument that the NCAA should not have been involved in disciplining anyone in the Sandusky scandal, although that argument paints college football wins as more important than whether or not the Penn State coaching staff and faculty’s response to the crimes committed — but it does do a number on the rankings for the top five winningest college football coaches of all time.
All data courtesy of Sports-Reference.com