We got lots of great feedback from yesterday's posting of that Cinncinati Enquirer article doing a ridiculously bad job of ranking SEC coaches for next season. I think we can all agree that they missed the mark entirely, so now it is our turn to look just as foolish. So here goes an EDSBS ranking of SEC coaches for the upcoming season.
1. Steven Orr Spurrier: Alright, there is a pick question mark here with the Ole Ballcoach coming off a less than successful NFL stint (although no less successful than Gibbs under the reign of Daniel Snyder) and a nice golf hiatus, but he has enough of a track record to give him his props until we see some evidence that the college game has passed him by. During the 1990's, Spurrier took the SEC by storm turning it from conservative run first conference into the modern era of football involving the forward pass. He was the man the opposition loved to hate and he relished his role as the Evil Genius. Although Tennessee and Georgia both routinely out recruited Spurrier (who rarely finished in the top of the recruiting guru rankings nationally), he gave them both their annual spankings. Don't get me wrong, the talent was solid at Florida, but the Spurr Dogg didn't win with overwhelming talent. Although his Xs and Os were impressive, he didn't really win with those either. It was his ferocious play-calling which had the ability to go for the jugular when exposed as well as the ability to set up miss matches. He was one of the best coaches to every put on a whistle at developing a game plan and executing it (which is good, because his achilles heal was always his inability to make significant half-time adjustments). Now, I don't expect him to light the world on fire next season at South Carolina which is recovering from a brutal off-season and the loss of some of their best talent, but I expect him to get more out of his talent than any other coach in the SEC, if not the nation. And that is why he is still number 1.
I expect to see this look alot next year, but give him three years and the Cocks will have a swagger and will be making waves.
2. Phil Fulmer: In a word, consistency. He recruits well every year and keeps his Vols at competitive for the SEC championship every season. Yes he's fat and lets his players get away with anything short of murder, but look at his winning percentage and National Championship. That should speak for itself. On the downside, I feel like he should have been able to go toe to toe with the Gators throughout the 1990's with the talent he had, but they were unable. Also, he is too conservative on game day which has limited his ability to fully exploit the talent he has had. But that doesn't mean he isn't one of the top coaches in the nation... it just makes him number 2 on our list in the SEC.
3. Urban Meyer: This is a tough one for me and I could almost interchange the 3 and 4 slot, but because Meyer has been the biggest innovator in college in the last few years, I bumped him up. Sure, this pick comes with some major question marks because Meyer has never coached in a major conference but great coaches are great coaches... period. Cheatypants Sweatervest came from nowhere to lead Ohio State to the promised land and Spurrier came from Duke before conquering the SEC so the fact that Meyer hasn't done it in a big conference yet is not dispositive. If you can win in style at Utah, the chances are you can win anywhere. He's the perfect combination of new school schematics with old school grit and toughness and he will bring the swagger back to the swamp.
4. Mark Richt: He was a horrible play caller his first year which cost his Bulldogs at least 2 games, but he learned and he improved. Now, he's got Georgia dominating the recruiting in its home state again and playing at a consistently high level. Since being at Georgia, the Dawgs have beenin the mythical national championship mix at some point in almost every season. This season will be a great test for Richt, however, who has been winning mostly with a stiffling defense, now that he has to replace his Defensive Coordinator.
5. Tommy Tuberville: Yes, the Tigers are coming off a brilliant season in which they should have played for in the BCS title game and may have even been able to win it given the incredible senior talent that squad had. However, Tuberville hasn't done it with the consistency of the men in front of him on this list. Remember, this is the same coach that Auburn wanted to run out of town just over a year ago and that is because he underperformed for the talent he had in previous seasons. If Tuberville can win without the combination of the Cadillac, Brown and Campbell, I'll rethink this position, but to me he is only a good to very good coach. Ask yourself if you would fire any of the guys in front of him on this list if it meant getting Tuberville... I didn't think so.
Tuberville looking secure in his job... for a change.
6. Houston Nutt: If you've been reading EDSBS for any length of time you know that Houston Nutt is one of our favorite people in all of the college football. He has been able to win some games that I don't think any other coach in the country could have won with the same match up of players. However, he has also lost a few that he should have won. He has flashes of brilliance but also flashes of idiocy. The SEC is better for having Nutt in the conference and he's in the right spot; a team with potential but not expectations to win consistently.
7. Les Miles: He comes to an LSU program that is loaded with talent and expectations. At Oklahoma State, he could always play the underdog role and did it with pizzaz by laying the smack down on in-state rival and annointed coaching genius Bobby Stoops on multiple occasions. Now he can't play the underdog as LSU should be expected to win the west and compete for a mythical national championship in his first year. The jury is out on whether he can do it, but based on what I've seen the players saying about him, he is reminding me a bit too much like the Zooker and may be too much of a "players coach".
8. Bobby Johnson: Vandy is so out matched in facilities, tradition and talent that I wonder if the Bear could win there (even though he won at Duke). But darn those 'Dores make their games close. That is a testiment to Bobby Johnson. If he pulled just one upset a year he'd fly up this chart, but being must competitive without being victorious can only get you so high on EDSBS' rankings.
9. Sylvester Croom: He beat the Gators (with Zook) but lost to Maine. Thus, I have almost no idea whether he's a great coach about to turn a messed up program around or a one hit wonder. I hope its the former as the SEC and indeed the NCAA can really use successful black coaches so that the fraternity of head coaching continues to open up to deserving minorities.
10. Mike Shula: I watched what he did to the Tampa Bay Buc's offense and I've seen nothing more out of him at Alabama. Let's face it, if his last name wasn't Shula, he'd never have gotten the job.
11. Rich Brooks: Kentucky has decent homegrown talent and pretty good facilities. They should be better than what they've been, but we can't just blame Brooks for their futility as it predates him by a long way. That said, Bobby Petrino would be making waves at the helm of the Wildcats and Brooks has done nothing except beat Vandy. ***Editor's Note to Kentucky Fans: Just because Petrino is a great X and O coach doesn't mean he isn't a prick***
12. Ed Orgeron: Seems to be certifiably mad and entertaining but he has no track record whatsoever to judge him on, necessitating him to land in last place on the list. I still cannot figure out why Ole Miss felt compelled to fire a solid if not spectacular coach to take a gamble on an untested position coach. Only time will tell.
Does he have dirty pictures of David Cutcliffe or the Ole Miss AD?