Our CBS Sports college football writers spoke with one-fifth of the 129 active coaches leading FBS teams entering the 2018 season. They asked for their honest opinions on everything from NCAA rules to social issues to their peers in the profession. We will be sharing their candid thoughts over a two-week period leading into the season.

If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times: How the hell did X program get X recruit? I wonder how much they paid! And while some of those accusations may have merit on occasion, college football coaches will always scoff their nose at suggestions of cheating, impropriety or even strong-arming players to leave programs to open up scholarships for seemingly more talented incoming recruits.

Still, behind closed doors, plenty of questions arise from coaches about some of their peers. Don't believe us? Just ask them. Well, you probably won't have that opportunity, but we did. And while engaged in those conversations, we also wanted to know who coaches believed was completely clean and did everything by their book -- both in recruiting and in the day to day running of their program.

Graphic illustration by Michael Meredith

Which of your peers do you believe is completely clean and by the book in running his team?


David Shaw, Stanford

17 percent

Chris Petersen, Washington

17 percent

David Cutcliffe, Duke 13 percent
Bill Snyder, Kansas State 8 percent
Mark Dantonio, Michigan State 8 percent  
Craig Bohl, Wyoming 8 percent  
Paul Chryst, Wisconsin 8 percent  

Also receiving votes: Gary Patterson (TCU), Dabo Swinney (Clemson), Urban Meyer (Ohio State), Sonny Dykes (SMU), Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern)

Explain yourselves

  • "Coach Petersen. I know how he recruits, how he coaches. You don't hear anything -- tampering, poaching, transfers. You don't hear any of that. I believe the perception and reality are the same thing. I have a lot of respect for him."
  • "[Bohl] just loves this game. Great friggin' ambassador." 
  • "Mark Dantonio. Getting to know him personally and observing him over the years, I know he does things the right way."
  • "David Cutcliffe at Duke and Bill Snyder at Kansas State. Cutcliffe is a guy who has great integrity and wins at a place where not many people have. It's a high academic institution. I watch him from afar, and everything he does, he does with class. And with Snyder, it's for many of the same reasons."
  • "Bill Snyder at Kansas State because it's proven over time that he's been able to do that. You'd think that if there was a violation going on there it would have shown up over a long career. 

Breaking it down

There are obviously some big-name coaches not mentioned or considered by our anonymous panel, and it's interesting that so many coaches received multiple mentions when there are 129 in FBS alone and plenty of different coaching circles. Though we did not get into detail this time around, a future Candid Coaches topic will surely be some of the most interesting stories coaches have heard going in the other direction from "clean."

Candid Coaches series