Now that the coaching situation seems settled in the SEC it seemed like a good time to rank the coaches based on 2009 performance. (If you want to hear more discussion on this list and some other rankings then listen to tonight’s podcast episode 2.)
1. Nick Saban—The Alabama Crimson Tide have the best coach in college football. This season Saban dethroned Urban Meyer, won the SEC Championship and national championship. Saban stands astride the world like a Colossus. Well, maybe a diminutive one, but still nobody dominates college football today like Nick Saban.
2. Urban Meyer—The Florida Gators are fortunate to have Urban Meyer. He has led the Gators on a run that surpasses even the great Steve Spurrier’s glory days. Of course, should Meyer even be ranked considering the guy might never coach again in the SEC? Until he leaves or we know more about the situation, Meyer is a dominant coach and has to be ranked.
3. Houston Nutt—Is there a classier guy in the SEC than Houston Nutt? He is a man of integrity and a great coach. He recently was recognized by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). Here are some stats from the FCA info on Nutt: “In his first two years he’s coached the Rebels to consecutive nine-win seasons for the first time since 1961-62 as well as back-to-back January bowl victories for the first time since 1960-61. Following his 2008 SEC Coach of the Year honor, he led his 2009 team to as high as #4 in the national rankings this year. Ole Miss knocked off LSU, Tennessee and Arkansas on their way to a second straight berth at the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic in which the Rebels were victorious against #18 Oklahoma State and finished #20 in the AP Top 25. For ten years prior to Ole Miss, Nutt was head coach at Arkansas, leading them to three SEC Western Division Titles and
ten (eight appears to be the correct number, but the original release said ten) bowl berths. In 2009, Nutt earned his 50th career coaching victory against SEC opponents (52-47 SEC; 93-56 overall as an SEC coach). He is just the 14th conference coach all-time to reach that mark.”
4. Bobby Petrino—Arkansas traded a great man and coach for another high quality coach. Petrino will win at Arkansas, and will surpass LSU as Alabama’s biggest challenge in the SEC West. Expect big things in 2010 from the Razorbacks.
5. Mark Richt—Georgia has fallen in the last few years, but Richt is still a good coach with a good program. There are problems in Athens. Georgia just doesn’t play very disciplined or focused football. Penalties and poor tackling have been problems over the last few years. Richt needs to get control of these if he wants to challenge Urban Meyer for the SEC East.
6. Steve Spurrier—Spurrier was once the dominant coach in the SEC, but he now seems past his prime. Each year speculation centers on if this season would be the coach’s last. He always seems to get close to turning the corner, but does Spurrier work enough to win in the SEC East?
7. Dan Mullen—Mullen turned in a solid first year at Mississippi State.
8. Bobby Johnson—Johnson had a rough year at Vandy. But what do you expect? It is Vandy. He is a solid coach that would do great things with the talent available at other SEC schools.
9. Les Miles—That seat in LSU is starting to get hot. Miles doesn’t look so brilliant without all that Nick Saban tallent.
10. Trooper Taylor, errr Gus Malzahn, errr I mean Gene Chizik—Has a coach ever played second or third or fourth chair fiddle to his assistants like Gene Chizik? If you asked Auburn fans who the savior of the Tigers season was, you’d hear Gus Malzahn or just about anyone before Chizik. How can you rank Chizik highly when his own fans don’t respect him? Chizik & Co. could have earned a higher ranking if not for the horrible 2-minute offense the Tigers showcased against Alabama. Auburn still needs a leader and not a loser, to quote some sage Auburn fan.
11. Joker Phillips and Derek Dooley—Joker Phillips and Derek Dooley tie for the last spot. Why? Neither has a track record inside or outside the SEC that would provide a baseline to judge performance.