College Football Coaches Reveal Their Favorite Artist, And There’s A Lot Of Eric Church, George Strait & Luke Combs

Eric Church Mack Brown
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Do you smell that?

It’s the smell of college football season once again.

It’s been a long 8 months, but college football officially kicks off today. Fall is just around the corner (despite the fact that it’s hotter than the devil’s drawers today here in Nashville), the beer is on ice, the grill is fired up, and I’m ready to settle in and watch football for the next four months.

Obviously the week zero matchups aren’t the greatest (even I wouldn’t normally be watching Hawaii vs. Vanderbilt and I live 10 minutes from Vandy’s stadium), but dammit football is on and I’m going to watch every minute I can.

But another important part of college gameday is the playlist. Whether you’re tailgating or just playing some tunes while the burgers are on the grill before the game, the music sets the tone for the entire day.

So what are coaches listening to before a game?

Brett McMurphy with Action Network has been asking all FBS college football coaches their favorite artists to get an idea of what coaches are listening to – and spoiler alert, there’s a lot of country on there.

George Strait was the most popular country artist among the coaches, being the favorite artist of seven coaches: UNT’s Eric Morris, UTSA’s Jeff Traylor, Texas Tech’s Joey McGuire, New Mexico State’s Jerry Kill, WKU’s Tyson Helton, WMU’s Lance Taylor, and UNLV’s Barry Odom.

Eric Church appeared on the list six times, the favorite of Aurburn’s Hugh Freeze, Toledo’s Jason Candle, Oregon State’s Jonathan Smith, Louisiana’s Mike Desormeaux, Missouri’s Eliah Drinkwitz, and of course the coach of his UNC Tar Heels, Mack Brown, with whom Church has formed a close friendship.

Luke Combs, meanwhile, was also the artist of choice for six coaches: USF’s Alex Golesh, Rice’s Mike Bloomgren, Cincinnati’s Scott Satterfield, Washington State’s Jacob Dickert, Ball State’s Mike Neu, and the head coach of his alma mater, Appalachian State’s Shawn Clark.

That was a common theme throughout the list: Several coaches picked artists with a connection to their state or university. Jacksonville State’s Rich Rodriguez chose Riley Green, who was the quarterback for his hometown Gamecocks before trading the locker room for the recording studio. And Georgia Southern’s Clay Helton picked Cole Swindell, who was also an alumni of the school

South Carolina’s Shane Beamer picked maybe the most famous country artist from South Carolina and a diehard Gamecocks fan, Darius Rucker. Georgia’s Kirby Smart chose Bulldog fan Luke Bryan. And Justin Moore was the favorite for Illinois’ Bret Bielema, who served as coach of Justin’s home state Arkansas Razorbacks from 2013-2017.

There were several other country artists on the list, including multiple votes for Zach Bryan, Morgan Wallen, Chris Stapleton and Kenny Chesney. It also somehow seems fitting that Clemson’s Dabo Swinney picked Garth Brooks, because they’re both kinda corny guys. And then there’s NC State’s Dave Doeren, who clearly appreciates good classic country music with his choice of the legendary Merle Haggard.

And it should come as no surprise that the SEC leaned heavy into the country music, with six of the conference’s coaches choosing a country artist as their favorite.

So if you need a new team to cheer for as the college football season kicks off today, this might be a good way to get a feel for the coaches and choose your fighter.

I mean, imagine cheering for Oklahoma’s Brent Venables after what we now know about him…


  • Charlotte’s Biff Poggi: Frank Sinatra
  • ECU’s Mike Houston: Journey
  • FAU’s Tom Herman: Lionel Ritchie
  • Memphis’ Ryan Silverfield: AC/DC
  • Navy’s Brian Newberry: Pearl Jam
  • UNT’s Eric Morris: George Strait
  • Rice’s Mike Bloomgren: Luke Combs
  • SMU’s Rhett Lashlee: Thomas Rhett
  • Temple’s Stan Drayton: Earth, Wind & Fire
  • Tulane’s Willie Fritz: Spinners
  • Tulsa’s Kevin Wilson: Boston
  • UAB’s Trent Dilfer: Chris Tomlin
  • USF’s Alex Golesh: Luke Combs
  • UTSA’s Jeff Traylor: George Strait


  • Boston College’s Jeff Hafley: Bruce Springsteen
  • Clemson’s Dabo Swinney: Garth Brooks
  • Duke’s Mike Elko: Jay-Z
  • Florida State’s Mike Norvell: Bob Marley
  • Georgia Tech’s Brent Key: Jimmy Buffett
  • Louisville’s Jeff Brohm: LL Cool J
  • Miami’s Mario Cristobal: Guns N’ Roses
  • NC State’s Dave Doeren: Merle Haggard
  • North Carolina’s Mack Brown: Eric Church
  • Pitt’s Pat Narduzzi: AC/DC
  • Syracuse’s Dino Babers: James Brown
  • Virginia’s Tony Elliott: Nas
  • Virginia Tech’s Brent Pry: Allman Brothers Band
  • Wake Forest’s Dave Clawson: Talking Heads

Big Ten

  • Illinois’ Bret Bielema: Justin Moore
  • Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz: Pat Green
  • Indiana’s Tom Allen: MercyMe
  • Maryland’s Mike Locksley: Citizen Cope
  • Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh: Alanis Morissette
  • Michigan State’s Mel Tucker: Prince
  • Minnesota’s P.J. Fleck: Chris Stapleton
  • Nebraska’s Matt Rhule: Dave Matthews Band
  • Northwestern’s David Braun: Need To Breathe
  • Ohio State’s Ryan Day: Morgan Wallen
  • Rutgers’ Greg Schiano: Bruce Springsteen
  • Penn State’s James Franklin: Jay-Z
  • Purdue’s Ryan Walters: Prince
  • Wisconsin’s Luke Fickell: Zach Bryan

Big 12

  • Baylor’s Dave Aranda: Dave Matthews Band
  • BYU’s Kalani Sitake: Bob Marley
  • Cincinnati’s Scott Satterfield: Luke Combs
  • Houston’s Dana Holgorsen: Post Malone
  • Iowa State’s Matt Campbell: Van Halen
  • Kansas’ Lance Leipold: Kenny Chesney
  • Kansas State’s Chris Klieman: Cole Swindell
  • Oklahoma’s Brent Venables: Kane Brown
  • Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy: Prince
  • TCU’s Sonny Dykes: Dave Matthews Band
  • Texas’ Steve Sarkisian: Tupac
  • Texas Tech’s Joey McGuire: George Strait
  • UCF’s Gus Malzahn: The Cars
  • West Virginia’s Neal Brown: Zach Bryan

Conference USA

  • FIU’s Mike MacIntyre: Casting Crowns
  • Jacksonville State’s Rich Rodriguez: Riley Green
  • Liberty’s Jamey Chadwell: Jimmy Buffett
  • Louisiana Tech’s Sonny Cumbie: Grady Spencer & The Work
  • Middle Tennessee’s Rick Stockstill: Temptations
  • New Mexico State’s Jerry Kill: George Strait
  • Sam Houston’s K.C. Keeler: Bruce Springsteen
  • UTEP’s Dana Dimel: Brooks & Dunn
  • WKU’s Tyson Helton: George Strait


  • Army’s Jeff Monken: Buddy Guy
  • Notre Dame’s Marcus Freeman: Jay-Z
  • UConn’s Jim Mora: Led Zeppelin
  • UMass’ Don Brown: AC/DC


  • Akron’s Joe Moorhead: Notorious B.I.G.
  • Bowling Green’s Scot Loeffler: Kenny Chesney
  • Buffalo’s Maurice Linguist: Bob Marley
  • Kent State’s Kenni Burns: Notorious B.I.G.
  • Miami’s Chuck Martin: Journey
  • Ohio’s Tim Albin: Sammy Hagar
  • Ball State’s Mike Neu: Luke Combs
  • CMU’s Jim McElwain: Earth, Wind & Fire
  • EMU’s Chris Creighton: Eagles
  • NIU’s Thomas Hammock: Boyz II Men
  • Toledo’s Jason Candle: Eric Church
  • WMU’s Lance Taylor: George Strait

Mountain West

  • Air Force’s Troy Calhoun: Kenny Chesney
  • Boise State’s Andy Avalos: Zach Brown
  • Colorado State’s Jay Norvell: Mystikal
  • Fresno State’s Jeff Tedford: Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band
  • Hawaii’s Timmy Chang: Fiji
  • Nevada’s Ken Wilson: AC/DC
  • New Mexico’s Danny Gonzales: Kenny Rogers
  • San Diego State’s Brady Hoke: Aerosmith
  • San Jose State’s Brent Brennan: Snoop Dogg
  • UNLV’s Barry Odom: George Strait
  • Utah State’s Blake Anderson: Zach Williams
  • Wyoming’s Craig Bohl: Eagles


  • Arizona’s Jedd Fisch: Morgan Wallen
  • Arizona State’s Kenny Dillingham: Train
  • Cal’s Justin Wilcox: Bruce Springsteen
  • Colorado’s Deion Sanders: Would not answer
  • Oregon’s Dan Lanning: Mumford & Sons
  • Oregon State’s Jonathan Smith: Eric Church
  • Stanford’s Troy Taylor: Mat Kearney
  • UCLA’s Chip Kelly: Mumford & Sons
  • USC’s Lincoln Riley: Kenny Chesney
  • Utah’s Kyle Whittingham: The Rolling Stones
  • Washington’s Kalen DeBoer: Journey
  • Washington State’s Jacob Dickert: Luke Combs


  • Alabama’s Nick Saban: The Rolling Stones
  • Arkansas’ Sam Pittman: Aerosmith
  • Auburn’s Hugh Freeze: Eric Church
  • Florida’s Billy Napier: Coldplay
  • Georgia’s Kirby Smart: Luke Bryan
  • Kentucky’s Mark Stoops: Toby Keith
  • LSU’s Brian Kelly: Bruce Springsteen
  • Mississippi State’s Zach Arnett: Led Zeppelin
  • Missouri’s Eliah Drinkwitz: Eric Church
  • Ole Miss’ Lane Kiffin: Taylor Swift
  • South Carolina’s Shane Beamer: Darius Rucker
  • Tennessee’s Josh Heupel: Mumford & Sons
  • Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher: George Strait
  • Vanderbilt’s Clark Lea: Caamp

Sun Belt

  • App State’s Shawn Clark: Luke Combs
  • Coastal Carolina’s Tim Beck: Eagles
  • Georgia State’s Shawn Elliott: Foo Fighters
  • Georgia Southern’s Clay Helton: Cole Swindell
  • James Madison’s Curt Cignetti: Neil Young
  • Marshall’s Charles Huff: Michael Jackson
  • ODU’s Ricky Rahne: Nirvana
  • Arkansas State’s Butch Jones: Cole Swindell
  • Louisiana’s Mike Desormeaux: Eric Church
  • South Alabama’s Kane Wommack: Coldplay
  • Southern Miss’ Will Hall: Jimmy Buffett
  • Texas State’s G.J. Kinne: Lil Baby
  • Troy’s Jon Sumrall: Chris Stapleton
  • ULM’s Terry Bowden: James Taylor
A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock