Ranking SEC football coaches
Published: Friday, April 22, 2011 at 12:24 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, April 22, 2011 at 12:24 p.m.
Last Saturday, I gave you my rankings for the quarterbacks in the SEC, a risky proposition indeed, because we don't know who will be starting at several of those schools.
It's easier with coaches because we know who the 12 will be in the SEC in 2011 unless one of them goes all Jim Tressel or Bruce Pearl on us. The tricky part is not ranking a coach based on his last season, but on which one you would want coaching yours against theirs and theirs against yours.
Ranking coaches, however, gets more complicated because you always have new ones (this is, after all, the SEC where failing goes to die) and you have to include more than just late-game decisions. Otherwise, Les Miles would be off the list.
I remember writing a column about how strong the SEC was in 2008 when Bobby Petrino joined the league, how it might be the best collection of coaches in league history with five of the 12 coaches owning national title rings and another who guided his team to an unbeaten record. A lot has changed since then with coaches coming and going and controversy tainting some resumes.
And that's just at Tennessee.
But seriously, folks, half of the coaches from 2008? Gone.
It's a new SEC and a new landscape.
So as they say in the Bud Lite commercial, here we go:
1. Nick Saban. Easy. Used to be a lot tougher to make this call when Urban Meyer was in the league. Saban has a statue in front of the stadium that is 9-feet tall or roughly twice his height and half his ego. But the perfect storm in Tuscaloosa isn't going away.
2. Les Miles. Every year you look at the Tigers and think they might win it all. He hires great coordinators and wins a lot of games. OK, so he eats grass and apparently doesn't understand how clocks work. He's a big-time winner.
3. Steve Spurrier. It wasn't that long ago that we had the Ball Coach well down this list. But after last season, it appears he found his mojo. It will be interesting to see how his team does as a favorite this fall.
4. Bobby Petrino. Petrino is offensive mastermind, but too often his defenses let him down. The key to being a great coach is balance. But he's definitely one of the better ones.
5. Gene Chizik. I have to swallow hard on this because I thought it was a huge mistake when Auburn made this hire. Obviously, that's one in my “L” column. But I'm not ready to put him in the top four until I see what he does after Cam Newton.
6. Dan Mullen. Mullen has it going in Starkville, which is amazing in itself. But we have seen coaches win at MSU and then fall back. Let's see how he does this year.
7. Will Muschamp. Look, none of us know for sure how this will work out. But every time I talk to Muschamp, I come away thinking it was a great hire.
8. Mark Richt. While I think Richt is better than this, his team's have made it a habit over the last three seasons of underachieving.
9. Joker Phillips. Getting to a bowl game is a big deal at Kentucky. Can Phillips take the Wildcats to the next plateau? That's the question.
10. Houston Nutt. Never been a big fan of his coaching. When you think his teams will be good, they never are.
11. Derek Dooley. Now, he inherited a mess. And he lost two of the most unbelievable games I have ever seen. But he has to start winning some of them to move up this list.
12. James Franklin. Has no chance at Vandy, but who does?
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can listen to The Pat Dooley Show weekdays from 4-6 p.m. on 104.9 FM. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.