Last week Paul Finebaum released a ranking of SEC coaches. It was a good list, but as always it was a little too negative. Here is a more upbeat version. Why upbeat? Someone posted here a few weeks ago that my negativity was getting out of control. Perhaps they were right. Being misanthropic can be satisfying, but perhaps I had indulged a bit too much. No more. It is time for a kinder Capstone Report, a more positive Capstone Report. A bottle of wine, dinner at J Alexander’s and what else but a beautiful woman inspired me to look on the bright side. My negativity has melted into a wave of positivity. So here goes, my own ranking of SEC coaches and what I like about each SEC football coach.
1. Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide—he is a leader. He knows defense, and how to get the most of each player on the team. He is the best defensive mind in the conference, and possibly all of college football.
2. Urban Meyer of the Florida Gators—he works hard. That is one reason for his health concerns in the last year; putting in the hours required to win championships takes a toll on your health. A little rest will allow him to refocus and win championships again. Perhaps what I like best about Urban Meyer is that he kicks the hell out of Tennessee.
3. Bobby Petrino of the Arkansas Razorbacks—he is the best offensive mind in the conference, and possibly all of college football. He is also doing a good job leading a program that needed a strong leader.
4. Houston Nutt of the Ole Miss Rebels—people like to ridicule Houston Nutt, but they shouldn’t. He is the best motivator in the conference. He has done amazing things at two places where it is difficult to win—Ole Miss and Arkansas. His teams have been overhyped, and then underachieved, but that isn’t a reflection on the coach but rather on the media.
5. Steve Spurrier of the South Carolina Gamecocks—Steve Spurrier has a great golf game. He is funny, and usually the best speaker at SEC Media Days. He is a legend.
6. Mark Richt of the Georgia Bulldogs—if there is a better man coaching in the SEC I don’t know who it is. He has an impressive record of teaching quarterbacks. Richt was pretty good in his Facing the Giants cameo too.
7. Dan Mullen of the Mississippi State Bulldogs—He has a great record of accomplishment working with quarterbacks. Mullen understands the importance of beating rivals—MSU 41 Ole Miss 27.
8. Les Miles of the LSU Tigers—he knows how to take risks. Often coaches become conservative once they get a big job, but not Miles. Risks are just part of the way he does business. It is hard not to like that.
9. Bobby Johnson of the Vanderbilt Commodores—the weakest football school in the strongest football conference is a challenge, but Johnson has done a good job. He’s beaten some good competition in the recent years.
10. Trooper Taylor of the Auburn Tigers—Auburn’s head coach Trooper Taylor has done a good job leading assistant coach Gus Malzahn, assistant coach Gene Chizik and the rest of the Auburn staff. Under Trooper’s leadership the Tigers have focused less on X’s and O’s and more on marketing. For a small program, it is a good move.
11. Derek Dooley of the Tennessee Volunteers—he isn’t a practicing lawyer now. That is a good thing about him. He is smarter than Lane Kiffin. I think he makes Tennstud angry, and that is a very good thing. Dooley is a good leader, and Tennessee needs a leader that will insist on doing things the right way.
12. Joker Phillips of the Kentucky Wildcats—He is a good recruiter. It is difficult to assess him beyond that reputation. Since this will be his first head coaching job, we can’t judge how he leads a program at the moment, but Kentucky seems to be heading in the right direction with Phillips at the helm.