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The 12 Best College Football Coaches (PHOTOS)

AP     First Posted: 09/08/11 04:52 PM ET   Updated: 11/08/11 05:12 AM ET

Ralph D. Russo, Associated Press

The winningest coach in the history of college football will be on one sideline this Saturday. That would be Penn State's Joe Paterno. On the other side will be Alabama's Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide's $4 million man and the best coach in college football today.

We'll see whether he's still on top Sunday morning.

Judging coaches is difficult because wins and losses aren't always equal. An eight-win season makes Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald look like a genius. An eight-win season for Les Miles at LSU has Tigers fans pining for change.

But with some helpful suggestions from the AP Top 25 voters, we rank the 12 best coaches in college football right now (career records in parentheses).

All text and captions by AP.

Nick Saban (44-11 at Alabama, 135-53-1 overall)
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He's a tireless recruiter. He's put together talented and innovative staffs, despite being as demanding as any boss in the business. He's won two national championships (one with LSU and another with Alabama) and now that he's gotten that NFL itch out of his system, there's no reason why the 59-year-old can't rack up at least a couple more before he calls it quits.

From the panel: "Is there any other coach that strikes fear in opposing coaches' hearts?" - Kirk Bohls, Austin American-Statesmen.
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Filed by Michael Klopman  |