Among knowledgeable college football fans, very few would argue against the Southeastern Conference having the best repertoire of coaches. Many of the SEC’s coaches are viewed as the cream of the crop in college football, and they are paid enough to reflect that belief. With four head coaches having won the National Championship as head coaches and others doing it as assistants, the SEC abounds with experience and success at the helm of its member institutions’ programs. This leaves us with the ultimate question: Who is the best coach in the sec?
1: Nick Saban, Alabama: Saban and Meyer are in a league of their own at the moment. Saban has been extremely successful at two SEC schools not counting his previous stops. Saban is arguably the best recruiter out of the twelve head coaches in the league, and probably the best at evaluating high school talent that there is. Nick Saban has earned his spot atop these rankings time and time again.
2:Urban Meyer, Florida: Meyer is not far behind Saban. Many would even rank him ahead of the loathed Tide coach. If it weren’t for the fact that Saban has passed tests that Meyer hasn’t even taken yet, then Meyer would probably be in front of Saban in everybody’s rankings. Meyer is the best game plan coach in the league, if not the country. He knows how to beat you, and he knows how to put that knowledge into action on the field through his players. Of coarse having super human Tim Tebow in the backfield doesn’t hurt. If Urban Meyer can succeed without Tebow in the years to come, he will dethrone Nick Saban as the best coach in the SEC.
3: Mark Richt, Georgia: Make no bones about it; Richt belongs with the big boys. The only problem is that his teams cannot seem to play up to their potential. The best example is obviously the 2008 season. Uga’s Bulldogs entered the season number one only to get beaten pretty good by Alabama and throttled by Florida. Richt is a good recruiter and knows how to win at the highest level, so he will have the bulldogs there as long as he is in charge in Athens.
4: Houston Nutt, Ole Miss: Nutt’s biggest problem is similar to Richt’s in that he has a history of having a let down when faced with expectations. They are very similar coaches up to this point. Nutt is a great evaluator of talent, and he is possibly the best motivator of the bunch as he has been likened to an old time Southern Baptist preacher. He is a religious man with an unmatched belief in his players and a blue-collar style of football
5:Steve Spurrier, South Carolina: Spurrier has been to the top before, yet he may not remember how he got there. His teams at USC are very tough, particularly in Columbia. At times his teams seem to be on the verge of superstardom only to fall flat on their face. If only he could find a franchise quarterback to lean on (and trust him enough to leave him in the game). Spurrier’s system works and is battle tested, yet Spurrier may be what stands in its way.
6: Bobby Johnson, Vanderbilt: What Johnson has done with Vanderbilt has been phenomenal. It would be great to see what he could do if he was given a chance at a big time school. Imagine what the results would be if Johnson had a few seasons at Texas A&M or Penn State.
7: Rich Brooks, Kentucky: Brooks has done admirably with a Kentucky program coming off of probation. This is the only place in the SEC where football is not king, yet Brooks has used his managerial prowess and his immense experience as head coach to bring respect back to the bluegrass of Kentucky.
8: Bobby Petrino, Arkansas: How long will Petrino allow himself to be Boss Hog? His track record says that it won’t be long. He is an offensive genius who will have a great passing game wherever he goes. Will his brand of football work in the SEC? Probably. Will he give it time to? Probably not.
9: Les Miles, LSU: Miles is the most overrated head coach in the SEC. Nick Saban built an unstoppable football machine in Baton Rouge, but it took Les Miles two losses and some overtime against teams he should have easily beaten to get to the top of the mountain.
10: Lane Kiffin, Tennessee: Kiffin is too new to the competition of the SEC to be ranked any higher than here. He has surrounded himself in Knoxville with coaching experience and recruiting giants. He can be successful if he doesn’t get in trouble.
11: Gene Chizik, Auburn: If the Riverboat Gambler had been in these rankings he would be all the way up at three. But Tommy isn’t soaring over the plains these days and Gene Chizik is. There are too many proven commodities in the SEC to warrant Gene being any higher than twelve. He is a defensive minded coach who should excel with the players in place at Auburn. The big question is if he can install the spread that got his predecessor fired.
12:Dan Mullen, Mississippi State: Mullen is the most inexperienced coach in the SEC when it comes to head coaching experience. His pedigree is superb coming out from under Meyer’s wing. Mullen will have to run his spread option without a Tim Tebow or Alex Smith. He will instead have a spread option featuring a 240 pound power back.