Geeze, man. I dunno.
Bowden was an excellent game day coach, and the debacle that was 1998 after an SEC Championship appearance the year before has to have the context of losing five, count 'em, five centers before the first game. The center is like the QB of the offensive line. Even so, the 98 team, as bad as it was, took eventual national champ Tennessee to the wire with Ben Leard running the option. For real. Bowden also gave AU the undefeated "best team on radio" season in 93. (I get tired of hearing "Yeah, but those were Dye's players." Maybe so, but Dye wasn't winning with 'em in 91 or 92.)
Dye? Pat Dye was...Pat Dye. Sometimes the sideline organization was...something other than organization. And there were a few painful losses and blowouts along the way. For example, in the fall of '87 I was in the stands at Jordan-Hare to watch our Tigers beat FSU. Only by the 4th quarter it was like 34-6 bad guys. I was also in the stands in January 84 for the Sugar Bowl, a win to be sure, but a boring as hell 9-7 win. AU entered ranked third. Number one and number two lost their bowl games. So I expected AU to be poll national champs. Unfortunately Miami's thrilling win over Nebraska vaulted them from number five to number one and AU finished right where we started at number three. I've always felt that if Dye had been less conservative, had opened up the wishbone run by Randy Campbell with Bo Jackson and company in the backfield, our Tigers would have scored more points instead of the snooze fest that was that game and our Tigers would have won the national championship.
Outside of that...Dye lost to a Gene Stallings led bammer team that had a losing record. He lost to a not very good Ray Perkins led bammer team as well. All that said, he did a LOT for AU, from expanding the stadium to improving the library, and of course he got bammer to Jordan-Hare. I will always love me some Pat Dye.
Tubs? Tubs was an 8-4 coach on average. His record and Malzahn's record on average are just not very different. Tubs teams would beat some teams our Tigers were not supposed to stand a chance against...and lose to some we had no business losing to. AU made Tubs, he didn't make AU. His subsequent records at TT and Cincy kind of prove the point. Average. Very average.
Chiz? Hardly a nightmare except for 2012. 2009 put the fun back into AU football after Tubs and the BBQ Boyz took it out in 2008. And 2010 brought the only (recognized by AU and consensus) national championship of my lifetime, and I was born in 1961. 2012 was a disaster of epic proportions, but it doesn't erase the good in 2009, 2010 (the national championship) and some good moments in 2011 including a nice bowl win.
Gus? I dunno. Average as in a record very similar in terms of wins and losses to Tubs. I think a lot of AU fans may be giving up on Gus too soon. If things don't improve in the coming season, I will likely join them.
That's my opinion. You know what they say, everybody has one.