This is a list of college football head coaches with non-consecutive tenure, meaning that an individual was a head coach at a college or university for a period, departed, and then returned to the same college or university in the same capacity.
This list includes only head coaches. This list does not include the following:
- Head coaches whose break in tenure was due to a temporarily suspended football program with no other coach during the break in tenure. Most such cases involve programs that halted play for World War I (including the flu pandemic linked to that conflict), World War II, or COVID-19. Another recent example is Bill Clark, head coach at UAB since 2014. UAB dropped football after his first season at the school, but announced six months later that it would reinstate the sport, eventually resuming play in 2017. Clark was under contract to UAB throughout the program's hiatus.
- Coaches who left and returned to an administrative capacity in the title of "head coach" but did not coach any games, such as when Tom Osborne temporarily named himself head coach while athletic director for the Nebraska Cornhuskers until Bo Pelini was hired in 2007.
- Coaches whose break in tenure was due to a medical or personal leave, with no new permanent head coach having been hired. A recent example is Joe Moglia, head coach at Coastal Carolina from 2012 to 2018. He went on a medical leave shortly before the 2017 season, and returned to coaching in 2018. During the 2017 season, offensive coordinator Jamey Chadwell was interim head coach, but was not hired as the permanent replacement at that time; he would succeed Moglia after the latter retired after the 2018 season.
- Coaches who were hired as interim head coaches while the permanent head coach was on a personal or medical leave, such as Chadwell.
Several College Football Hall of Fame coaches have made the list, accenting not only their return to the same program but the success their return brought to the program. Critics have pointed out that returning coaches appear to be less successful at producing winning teams and programs during their second tenure and make comparisons to previous records of coaches attempting to return to a prior coaching job.
|Eli Abbott||Alabama||1893–1895, 1902|
|A. A. Abraham||Alcorn State||1936, 1938, 1941–1942|
|Hobbs Adams||Kansas State||1940–1941, 1946|
|George E. Allen||Maine||1941, 1946–1948|
|William Allen||Washington State||1900, 1902|
|Barry Alvarez||Wisconsin||1990–2005, 2012, 2014||Alvarez, who stepped down from coaching after the 2005 season to concentrate on his second role as athletic director and entered the College Football Hall of Fame in 2010, has been interim coach for two Wisconsin bowl games after the Badgers' head coach left for another school. He coached in the 2013 Rose Bowl (part of the 2012 season) after Bret Bielema left to take the head coaching vacancy at Arkansas, and the 2015 Outback Bowl (part of the 2014 season) following Gary Andersen's departure for the Oregon State vacancy (though Alvarez coached the bowl game in 2015).|
|Gary Andersen||Utah State||2009–2012, 2019–2020|
|Carl "Swede" Anderson||Western Kentucky||1929, 1934–1937|
|Eddie Anderson||Holy Cross||1933–1938, 1950–1964||Member of the College Football Hall of Fame. Coached six years at Holy Cross in the 1930s, moved on to Iowa which he interrupted to serve in the U.S. Army. He then returned first to Iowa then to Holy Cross for 13 seasons.|
|Phillip Arbuckle||Rice||1912–1917, 1919–1923|
|Chris Ault||Nevada||1976–1992, 1994–1995, 2004–2012||Stepped down and returned twice during his tenure at Nevada, each time to focus on his (now-relinquished) second role as athletics director. Ault was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2002, during his second break in tenure.|
|Cory Bailey||Assumption||2004–2007, 2009–2012|
|D. M. Balliet||Purdue||1893–1895, 1901|
|Laurence Bankart||Colgate||1910, 1913–1916|
|T. L. Bayne||Tulane||1893, 1895|
|Ernest Bearg||Washburn||1918–1919, 1929–1935|
|Matty Bell||SMU||1935–1941, 1945–1949|
|John R. Bender||Washington State||1906–1907, 1912–1914|
|Christie Benet||South Carolina||1904–1905, 1908–1909|
|Curt Bennett||Sterling||1966–1973, 1980, 1997–2000|
|Hugo Bezdek||Oregon||1906, 1913–1917|
|Bernie Bierman||Minnesota||1932–1941, 1945–1950|
|Bill Bloss||Oregon State||1893, 1897|
|Branch Bocock||Virginia Tech||1909–1910, 1912–1915|
|William & Mary||1928–1930, 1936–1938|
|Stanley Borleske||North Dakota State||1919–1921, 1923–1924, 1928||Co-head coach with Casey Finnegan in 1928|
|Jimmy Bradshaw||Fresno State||1936–1942, 1946||Fresno State did not play in 1943, but resumed in 1944.|
|Chester Brewer||Michigan State||1903–1910, 1917, 1919||Michigan State played its 1918 season.|
|Arthur Briggs||Missouri State||1912, 1914–1917, 1919–1933||Missouri State, then known as the Fourth District Normal School, played in 1918.|
|Reuben Bronson||Idaho State||1915–1916, 1919||Idaho State played in 1917, but not in 1918.|
|John Brown||Alabama State||1943, 1945–1948||Alabama State played in 1944.|
|Mack Brown||North Carolina||1988–1997, 2019–present|
|Matthew Bullock||UMass[a]||1904, 1907–1908|
|Henry Butova||American International||1948, 1952–1955|
|Perrin Busbee||North Carolina State||1892, 1896–1897|
|Johnny Cain||Louisiana[b]||1937–1941, 1946|
|Walter Camp||Stanford||1892, 1894–1895|
|V. M. Campbell||Memphis[c]||1917, 1919||Memphis played in 1918.|
|Mike Canales||North Texas||2010, 2015||Canales served as interim head coach of the Mean Green for their last 5 games in 2010, and again for their last 7 games in 2015.|
|Jack Cannell||Dartmouth||1921–1922, 1929–1933|
|Gilbert Carson||Eastern Illinois||1936–1937, 1939–1941|
|Bill Church||Georgetown||1899, 1901|
|George Clark||Nebraska||1945, 1948|
|Louis Clark||Dayton||1913, 1917–1918|
|Tom Clark||Catholic||1994–2000, 2004–2005|
|Dean Cromwell||USC||1909–1910, 1916–1918|
|H. P. Cross||Stanford||1896, 1898|
|Charles Dudley Daly||Army||1913–1916, 1919–1922|
|Mark Dean||Indiana State||1951–1954, 1956|
|James DeHart||Washington & Lee||1922–1925, 1931–1932|
|Hugh Devore||Notre Dame||1945, 1963|
|Marvin D. Dickinson||Georgia||1903, 1905|
|Chet Dillon||Samford[d]||1919, 1927–1928|
|Jacksonville State||1938–1939, 1945|
|Mike Donahue||Auburn||1904–1906, 1908–1922|
|Moon Ducote||Spring Hill||1919, 1921–1922, 1933–1934|
|E. C. Duggins||Appalachian State||1947–1950, 1952–1955|
|Mike Dunbar||Central Washington||1983, 1987–1991|
|John Dunlop||Boston College||1897–1899, 1901|
|Ron Dupree||Kansas Wesleyan||1979–1980, 1996|
|Schubert R. Dyche||Montana State||1928–1935, 1938–1941|
|Thomas Eck||Massachusetts[a]||1945, 1947–1951|
|Randy Edsall||UConn[e]||1999–2010, 2017–present|
|George R. Edwards||Kansas Wesleyan||1914, 1917|
|Larry Elliott||Washburn||1974–1978, 1984–1989|
|Harry Ely||Fordham||1892, 1903|
|Rex Enright||South Carolina||1938–1942, 1946–1955|
|Dennis Erickson||Idaho||1982–1985, 2006||21 years between coaching periods|
|Jack Faber||Maryland||1935, 1940–1941|
|Dave Fagg||Davidson||1970–1973, 1990–1992|
|Don Fambrough||Kansas||1971–1974, 1979–1982|
|Wells Farley||Maine||1901, 1903|
|Don Faurot||Missouri||1935–1942, 1946–1956|
|Doug Fessenden||Montana||1935–1941, 1946–1948|
|Fred Folsom||Colorado||1895–1899, 1901–1902, 1908–1915|
|Ted Forbes||UC Davis||1949–1953, 1955|
|Dixon Foster||South Carolina||1917, 1919|
|Red Floyd||Middle Tennessee||1917, 1935–1938|
|Ed Foley||Temple||2016, 2018||Foley was interim head coach for two Temple appearances in bowl games, the 2016 Military Bowl after Matt Rhule left for Baylor and the 2018 Independence Bowl after Geoff Collins left for Georgia Tech.|
|Dennis Franchione||Texas State||1990–91, 2011–2015||20 years between coaching periods|
|Phillip Fulmer||Tennessee||1992, 1993–2008||Fulmer was named interim head coach for the first three games of the 1992 season in Johnny Majors' absence. He returned to his position as offensive coordinator upon Majors' return. Following Majors' resignation after the season, Fulmer was promoted to head coach.|
|J. A. Gammons||Brown||1902, 1908–1909|
|Mike Gardner||Tabor||2004–2005, 2010–present|
|Frank Gargan||Fordham||1916, 1922–1926|
|Rufus Gilbert||Kalamazoo||1905, 1907–1908|
|Otto Graham||Coast Guard||1959–1965, 1974–1975|
|Ralph Graham||Wichita State[f]||1942, 1946–1947|
|Ernest Graves, Sr.||Army||1906, 1912|
|Rob Green||Missouri Southern||1997, 2003||Green had no wins in nine games as head coach.|
|James Griffin Sr.||Hampton||1941–1942, 1947–1948|
|John G. Griffith||Idaho||1902–1906, 1910–1914|
|Odell Haggins||Florida State||2017, 2019||Haggins served as the Seminoles' interim head coach for the final 2 games of 2017 after Jimbo Fisher left for Texas A&M and for the final 4 games in 2019 after Willie Taggart was fired.|
|Dale E. Hamilton||Central Oklahoma||1941–1949, 1952–1957||Program idle from 1943–1945; from 1950 to 1951, Hamilton served in the Korean War.|
|Tom Hamilton||Navy||1934–1936, 1946–1947|
|A. G. Harbaugh||Montana State||1901, 1905|
|Jack Harding||Miami (FL)||1937–1942, 1945–1947|
|Walter Hargesheirner||UMass[a]||1941–1942, 1946|
|Harvey Harman||Rutgers||1938–1941, 1946–1955|
|Lyle W. Hare||Black Hills State||1906, 1911–1919|
|Homer Woodson Hargis||Emporia State||1914–1917, 1920–1927|
|L. Harris||Alcorn State||1937, 1939–1940|
|Dick Harlow||Harvard||1935–1942, 1945–1947|
|Harry Hartsell||NC State||1917, 1921–1923|
|Bobby Hauck||Montana||2003–2009, 2018–present|
|Clay Helton||USC||2013, 2015–present||Helton was interim coach for the 2013 Las Vegas Bowl and for seven games after Steve Sarkisian's firing in 2015. He was named permanent head coach after the 2015 UCLA game.|
|Fred Hess||Wyoming||1892, 1894, 1898||Hess was co-head coach with Justus Soule in 1894.|
|Nick E. Hinch||Eastern Washington||1908, 1912|
|Tony Hinkle||Butler||1926, 1935–1941, 1946–1969|
|Brady Hoke||San Diego State||2009–2010, 2020–future|
|Bill Hollenback||Penn State||1909, 1911–1914|
|George Hoskins||Bucknell||1899–1906, 1909|
|Blue Howell||Pittsburg State||1929–1935, 1937|
|Henry B. Hucles||Virginia Union||1919–1920, 1926–1942|
|Harry W. Hughes||Colorado State||1911–1941, 1946|
|Claude J. Hunt||Washington||1917, 1919||Washington played in 1918.|
|John Hunthausen||Carroll (MT)||1957, 1959–1961|||
|Vic Hurt||Oklahoma Baptist||1923–1929, 1931–1934|
|Edward Jackson||Delaware State||1933–1936, 1939, 1941–1942, 1945, 1953–1956|
|Greg Johnson||Langston||1992–1996, 2004–2010|
|A. R. Kennedy||Washburn||1903, 1916–1917|
|William C. Kenyon||Maine||1942, 1944–1945|
|Bill Kern||West Virginia||1940–1942, 1946–1947|
|Eddie Kimball||BYU||1937–1941, 1946–1948|
|Philip King||Wisconsin||1896–1902, 1905|
|James Kitts||Virginia Tech||1941, 1946–1947|
|Harl Lahar||Colgate||1952–1956, 1962–1967|
|Charles Lantz||Eastern Illinois||1911–1934, 1944||No season in 1918.|
|Frank Leahy||Notre Dame||1941–1943, 1946–1953|
|John Lee||Fordham||1891, 1893|
|George Little||Miami (OH)||1916, 1919–1921|
|Mike Locksley||Maryland||2015, 2019–present||Was interim head coach of the team for their final 5 games in 2015 after Randy Edsall's firing.|
|Will Lotter||UC Davis||1954, 1956–1957, 1959–1963|
|Frank Maile||Utah State||2018, 2020–present||Maile served as the Aggies interim head coach for their appearance in the 2018 New Mexico Bowl after Matt Wells left for Texas Tech, and for the final 5 games of the 2020 season after the school parted ways with Gary Andersen.|
|Johnny Majors||Pittsburgh||1973–1976, 1993–1996||Won a national title at Pittsburgh in his first tenure.|
|Oliver Mann||Rutgers||1903, 1905|
|Wally Marks||Indiana State||1927–1930, 1933–1941, 1946–1948|
|Charles Mayser||Franklin & Marshall||1919–1914
|William McAvoy||Delaware||1908–1916, 1922–1924|
|Sam P. McBirney||Tulsa||1908, 1914–1916|
|Dan McCann||Duquesne||1970–1983, 1988–1992|
|Tim McCarty||East Central||2004–2005, 2009–2017|
|Jack McClairen||Bethune–Cookman||1961–1972, 1994–1997|
|Sam McCorkle||West Alabama[g]||1985–1990, 2004–2005|
|Dan McGugin||Vanderbilt||1904–1917, 1919–1934|
|Tuss McLaughry||Dartmouth||1941–1942, 1945–1954|
|Westminster (PA)||1915–1916, 1918, 1921||Co-head coach with Park in 1915|
|Jack McKay||Butler||1907–1908, 1910|
|Maury McMains||Drexel||1944–1945, 1948||After coaching two full seasons at Drexel, McMains left the head coaching position after the 1945 season to become athletic director. During the 1948 football season, after an 0–5 start, McMains relieved head football coach Ralph Chase of his duties and became head coach for the last three games of the season.|
|Dennis Michie||Army||1890, 1892|
|John O. Miller||New Mexico State||1899, 1901–1907|
|Alfred Miles||Middle Tennessee||1913–1916, 1919–1923|
|T. R. Mobley||Louisiana[b]||1916, 1919, 1921–1930|
|Jim Moore||Murray State||1941, 1946–1947|
|Edward Morrison||Howard||1920–1924, 1928|
|Ray Morrison||SMU||1915–1916, 1924–1934|
|David C. Morrow||Washington & Jefferson||1908–1911, 1919–1920, 1924–1925|||
|Arthur Mosse||Central Missouri||1899, 1902|
|Moon Mullins||Saint Ambrose||1940, 1947–1950|||
|Frank Murray||Marquette||1922–1936, 1946–1949|
|Denny Myers||Boston College||1941–1942, 1946–1950|
|Howdy Myers||Johns Hopkins||1946–1949, 1979||Myers had a 30-year break in tenure at Johns Hopkins|
|Bob Nielson||Minnesota–Duluth||1999–2003, 2008–2012||Won two Division II national titles in his second tenure.|
|Robert Neyland||Tennessee||1926–1934, 1936–1940, 1946–1952||Interrupted his coaching twice to serve in the U.S. Army|
|Ralph Nichols||Washington||1895–1896, 1898|
|Harvey O'Brien||The Citadel||1916–1918, 1920–1921|
|Maynard O'Brien||Eastern Illinois||1946–1950, 1952–1955|
|Howie O'Daniels||Cal Poly||1933–1941, 1946–1947|
|Frank "Buck" O'Neill||Colgate||1902, 1904–1905|
|Syracuse||1906–1907, 1913–1915, 1917–1919|
|Tex Oliver||Oregon||1938–1941, 1945–1946|
|Wallace Parker||Central Michigan||1921–1923, 1926–1928|
|Willie Parker||Alabama State||1973–1975, 1984, 1986|
|Art Parkhurst||Northwestern Oklahoma State||1956–1964, 1972–1973|
|Simon F. Pauxtis||Pennsylvania Military||1916–1929, 1939–1946||Now called Widener University|
|Mike Pecarovich||Loyola Marymount||1928, 1939|
|Bo Pelini||Nebraska||2003, 2008–2014||Pelini coached the final game (the Alamo Bowl) of the 2003 season after Frank Solich was fired.|
|Marty Peters||Benedictine||1937–1941, 1946–1947|
|Bobby Petrino||Louisville||2003–2006, 2014–2018|
|Alvin Pierson||Fresno State||1945, 1949|
|Boozer Pitts||Auburn||1923–1924, 1927|
|Frank Potts||Colorado||1940, 1944–1945|
|Irving Pray||Louisiana State||1916, 1919, 1922|
|Mike Price||UTEP||2004–2012, 2017||Price returned as interim head coach after the resignation of Sean Kugler during the 2017 season.|
|Percy S. Prince||Louisiana Tech||1909–1915, 1919|
|Eddie Reed||Loyola (LA)||1926, 1935–1936|
|Red Reese||Eastern Washington||1930–1941, 1946|
|Bill Reid||Harvard||1901, 1905–1906|
|John Richards||Wisconsin||1911, 1917, 1919–1922|
|Walter Riggs||Clemson||1896, 1899|
|Mike Riley||Oregon State||1997–1998, 2003–2014||Returned to Oregon State after coaching in the NFL|
|Eddie "Robbie" Robinson||Brown||1898–1901, 1904–1907, 1910–1925|
|John Robinson||USC||1976–1982, 1993–1997||Won a national title in his first tenure|
|Merton Robinson||Howard||1908, 1918–1919|
|Harry Rockafeller||Rutgers||1927–1930, 1942–1945|
|Ira Rodgers||West Virginia||1925–1930, 1943–1945|
|George Rogers||The Citadel||1913–1915, 1919|
|Bill Roper||Princeton||1906–1908, 1910–1911, 1919–1930||Three undefeated seasons and four national championships at Princeton|
|Frederick Bushnell "Jack" Ryder||Ohio State||1892–1895, 1898|
|Elton Rynearson||Eastern Michigan[h]||1917, 1919–1920, 1925–1948||No season in 1944. Rynearson is considered the most successful coach in the program, leading the team to several undefeated seasons. Eastern Michigan's current stadium bears his name.|
|Henry Russell Sanders||Vanderbilt||1940–1942, 1946–1948|
|Don Salls||Jacksonville State||1946–1952, 1954–1964|
|Paul Samson||Emporia State||1904–1906, 1908|
|Herb Schmalenberger||UC Davis||1958, 1964–1969|
|Clark Shaughnessy||Maryland||1942, 1946|
|Greg Schiano||Rutgers||2001–2011, 2020–present|
|Clarence A. Short||Delaware||1902, 1906|
|Fred Smith||Fordham||1901, 1904, 1906–1907||Smith was co-head coach with Maurice McCarthy in 1901.|
|Sid Smith||McPherson||1953–1966, 1971–1972|
|Warren W. Smith||Oregon||1901, 1903|
|Carl Snavely||North Carolina||1934–1935, 1945–1952|
|Norm Snead||Apprentice||1977–1984, 1988–1989|
|Bill Snyder||Kansas State||1989–2005, 2009–2018|
|Tommy Spangler||Presbyterian||2001–2006, 2017–present|
|Frank Spaziani||Boston College||2006, 2009–2012||Spaziani coached the final game of the 2006 season (the Meineke Car Care Bowl) after Tom O'Brien left.|
|J. W. Stephenson||Jacksonville State||1920–1921, 1929–1930|
|Roy Stewart||Murray State||1932–1940, 1942–1945||No season in 1943. Murray State's current stadium bears his name.|
|Tony Storti||Montana State||1952–1953, 1956–1957|
|Arthur Strum||Indiana State||1923–1926, 1932, 1942|
|Fred Sullivan||Ohio||1899, 1903|
|Jim Sweeney||Fresno State||1976–1977, 1980–1996|
|Charles Tambling||Central Michigan||1902–1905, 1918|
|Jim Tatum||North Carolina||1942, 1956–1958|
|Buddy Teevens||Dartmouth||1987–1991, 2005–present|
|Jesse Thomas||Western Kentucky||1933, 1946–1947|
|John Thompson||Arkansas State||2012, 2013||Thompson was an interim head coach for two Arkansas State appearances in the game now known as the LendingTree Bowl. He was first named interim coach after the 2012 regular season when Gus Malzahn left to take the head coaching vacancy at Auburn, and coached in the 2013 game. Thompson again became interim coach after the 2013 regular season when Bryan Harsin left for Boise State, and coached in the 2014 game.|
|Mike Toop||Davidson||2001–2004, 2008|
|Merchant Marine||2005–2007, 2009–present|
|Thomas Trenchard||North Carolina||1895, 1913–1915|
|Washington & Lee||1899, 1902|
|Otto D. Unruh||Bethel Threshers||1919–1942, 1967–1969||25 years and nine other head coaches held the post between times of service, including his son David Unruh|
|Johnny Vaught||Ole Miss||1947–1970, 1973|
|Wallace Wade||Duke||1931–1941, 1946–1950|
|Bobby Wallace||North Alabama||1988–1997, 2012–2016|
|Bill Walsh||Stanford||1977–1978, 1992–1994|
|Charles W. Wantland||Central Oklahoma||1912–1919, 1921–1930|
|W. Rice Warren||Virginia||1913, 1920–1921|
|Glenn Scobey "Pop" Warner||Cornell||1897–1898, 1904–1906|
|Mark Whipple||UMass||1998–2003, 2014–2018||Whipple won a Division I-AA (FCS) national title in the first year of his first tenure.|
|Todd Whitten||Tarleton State||1996, 2000–2004, 2016–present|
|Bob Williams||Clemson||1906, 1909, 1913–1915|
|C. H. Williams||Hampton||1914–1917, 1919–1920|
|Jimmy Wilson||Buffalo||1932–1933, 1950–1951|
|Edgar Wingard||Susquehanna||1916–1917, 1919, 1924–1925|
|Frank N. Wolf||Waynesburg||1921–1922, 1928–1941|
|Frank Wyatt||Northwestern Oklahoma State||1906–1915, 1919–1923|
|James J. Yeager||Colorado||1941–1943, 1946–1947|
|Louis Yeager||West Virginia||1899, 1901–1902|
|Donzell Young||Arkansas–Pine Bluff||1973–1975, 1984–1986|
|Fielding H. Yost||Michigan||1901–1923, 1925–1926|
|Don Young||Black Hills State||1948–1950, 1953–1958, 1967|
- School then athletically known as "Massachusetts", though the term "UMass" was in wide use for most if not all of the 20th century.
- Then known as Southwestern Louisiana.
- Then known as West Tennessee, from its formal name of West Tennessee Normal School.
- Then known as Howard College, or Howard (Alabama) to distinguish from Howard University in Washington, D.C.
- Officially known for athletic purposes as Connecticut until 2013, though "UConn" was in regular use during Edsall's first tenure.
- Then known as Wichita, from its formal name of Municipal University of Wichita.
- Known as Livingston State during McCorkle's first tenure, and West Alabama since 1995.
- Then formally known as Michigan State Normal College; short form Michigan Normal.
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