SEC POWER POLL: Preseason

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SEC POWER POLL, Preseason

1. Urban Meyer, 267 points (8 first-place votes)
Despite having fewer first-place ballots than the man below him, Urban Meyer -- who calls himself Urban Meyer -- squeaks into first place.

2. Mark Richt, 262 (9)
Finishes above four former national champions.

3. Tommy Tuberville, 239 (2)

4. Les Miles, 216.5 (2)

5. Steve Spurrier, 191 (2)

6. Nick Sabana, 189.5

7. Phil Fulmer, 149

8. Houston Nutt, 113.5

9. Bobby Petrino, 102

10. Sylvester Croom, 97 (2)
Both first-place votes came, oddly enough, from Tennessee blogs -- Loser with Socks and Gate 21.

11. Rich Brooks, 73

12. Bobby Johnson, 50.5
A lot of folks felt badly about this.

Voters explain this after the jump.

Urban Meyer

Call it a homer pick if you want, but he's done well everywhere he's gone. He turned in an undefeated season at Utah, becoming the first BCS Buster ever. Let's also not forget that he did it before the BCS expanded to five games. At Florida he won a national and conference championship and got a quarterback a Heisman. He proved the spread could work in the SEC and did it so convincingly that other coaches in the league are going to install some spread-style goodness of their own in 2008.--Year 2

It's hard to quantify, but I guess I'd have to say I see some creeping instability when I look at his team -- i.e. one year they have an inconsistent offense and a national-title-caliber defense, they next year they score a bajillion points a game but can't stop anybody; one week they're eviscerating Tennessee by 39 points, the next week they're having to survive Ole Miss, the week after that they're losing to Auburn at home; and the fact that the entire offense hinges so completely on one guy.--Hey Jenny Slater

Mark Richt

Richt has been a consistent winner and turned Georgia into a perennial challenger for the SEC crown instead of third in the East every year.  Richt always recruits well.   The only thing keeping Richt from the top is that every year Georgia seems to mysteriously drop a crucial game that costs them a shot at bigger things (UF 2002, UT 2004, South Carolina 2007).  There is just something holding him back from his rightful place among coaching's elite.  Last year, Richt showed how good he could be unleashed from playcalling responsibilities.  Perhaps this is the year Richt breaks through.--Georgia Sports Blog

Richt fell short of winning the East due to the loss against the Vols but has put together the pieces for a team that should be in National Title contention for the next few years. Following losses to South Carolina and Tennessee this team could have tanked but Richt managed to push all the right buttons to right the ship.--Orange and Blue Hue

Tommy Tuberville

I hate Auburn, but Jay Coulter is right: Tubs is the most underrated coach in the league. In 2004, Coach Tuberville led a Southeastern Conference squad to an undefeated record. Of his coevals, only Phillip Fulmer can make the same claim: Urban Meyer, Les Miles, Mark Richt, Nick Saban, and even Steve Spurrier haven't done it. Coach Tuberville has made the most consistently good coordinator hires and fires in the S.E.C. in the last several seasons and he has done something Coaches Fulmer, Meyer, Miles, Saban, and Spurrier have not yet shown signs of doing: namely, getting better with age. ...  He was a good coach when Auburn hired him and he became a better coach after Auburn tried to fire him.--Dawg Sports

Question for the world: If everyone claims you're underrated, are you in fact "underrated"? I think he's a very good coach, but let's me honest, he's only a top notch coach when he is coaching against teams he should lose to. I respect him, but I do feel that people tend to just overlook his flops as a big favorite. Tis the curse of Tubs I suppose. But give the man his due. He went from the brink of the pink slip to a perfect season. He likes tough defense, and it is hard to not respect that in such a conference. Plus, he knows what it takes to please his fan base, and he has delivered 6 years running.--Tide Druid

Les Miles

He's feisty, he knows how to use talent, and he is always good for a quote. Still, you have to wonder when his abnormal play calls in crunch time will finally backfire on him. LSU has been in a position the last 8 years to lock down their state, something that can't be broken too easily. I think he realizes this, and is smart enough to use that talent to draw in good assistants, who continue to draw in more talent. Heck, he'll probably be the only coach in the next 10 years to lose his last regular season game and get into the BCS title game (I don't view conference title games as true regular season games).--Tide Druid

As much as I am surprised to admit it, I think he really is a very good coach. He coaches the way fans want their coach to coach. Last year's wins over Florida, South Carolina, and Ohio State were largely due to superior coaching. Think about that for a minute, Les Miles outcoached Urban Meyer, Steve Spurrier, and Jim Tressel all in one year. ... It's been said before, but he doesn't get enough credit for the 2005 season, when he held the team together through all sorts of chaos. Oh, and he does have a national title.--Pelican State Sports

Steve Spurrier

He's one part fratter, one part cranky old guy, one part gypsy snakecharmer, and all man. If this were the 1990's, he'd be number one by a mile and a half. ... Granted, he's yet to do amazing things at South Carolina, but that job may be more difficult than the Ole Miss job. Think about it. He's in a state with less high school talent; has a possible national title contender in Clemson down the road; and is forced to compete with UGA, Tennessee, and Florida year-in and year-out. While it most certainly won't be immediate, good things are to come for the Gamecocks. Oh, and he's a helluva golfer. That's gotta count for something.--Red Solo Cup

Version 2.0 (Florida edition) of Spurrier would be at the top of this list with a bullet and it wouldn't even be close. Version 3.0, however, the South Carolina version, is stuck square in the middle of the pack. ... When he first took the Carolina job, I thought that if nothing else he'd be able to break through the mindset of mediocrity that had plagued the Gamecock program for the vast majority of its history, yet it seems like that's the one major thing he hasn't done in three years in the Palmetto State. I mean, when you've got a 6-1, seventh-ranked team that finds a way to lose to Vanderbilt at home and collapse to a bowl-less .500 finish, what more needs to be said about the mentality of the program? And why hasn't Spurrier -- who once upon a time turned Duke into a conference champion, for crying out loud -- had more success in improving it?--Hey Jenny Slater

Nick Saban

But consider that Saban has won 10 or more games only twice in his career.  I grant that he has made those years count, but that number is well below many other coaches. Other than 2003, Saban has been good, but not great.  His rep keeps getting bigger despite not turning in consistent results.--Georgia Sports Blog

Some will call me a homer for putting him over coaches with better records last year. Others will ridicule me for ranking him lower than three other coaches. I think Saban is a great program builder, but he does have his fair share of coaching weaknesses. One can legitimately argue that Saban is the best at building infrastructure, something I won't back down from. But, I do worry from time to time about the calls he approves. Are there better X's and O's coaches in the league? Yes. But you must respect him for his ability to rebuild a down program from the bottom up. 2 SEC championships and a BCS title in 5 years is as good a run as you'll get from any coach on this list.--Tide Druid

Phil Fulmer

Tennessee is still a very good team, but they should be in the national title race every year.--Alligator Army

Some UT fans would love to boot Fulmer even now, but are kind of forced to shut up because UT won the East last year.  But dissatisfaction can be heard bubbling down in Knoxville to any but the seriously hearing-impaired.--A Sea of Blue

Houston Nutt

At Ole Miss we are certainly excited about the future of our program under Nutt, but this excitement is chiefly due to the misery caused by Hurricane Orgeron. Nutt isn't the conferences best recruiter, nor is he the best X's and O's guy, but he is certainly one of the best, if not the best at motivating his players. ... We like the guy because, at Ole Miss and especially in Oxford, we want our coaches to have this sorta "old guy who sits in the front row of church" persona. You know, the guy who makes sure to shake everybody's hand and tell little kids how much they've grown? Yeah, that guy. Houston Nutt is that guy.--Red Solo Cup

Were Houston Nutt still at Arkansas, he would probably rank higher.  He was consistent and recruited some stellar players while coaching the Hogs.  That said, he never seemed to be able to push the team to the championship level.  Now that he is at the helm of the Ole Miss Rebels, he has his work cut out for him.  If he can turn it around, then he will rise quickly in my eyes, but Oxford has not been very kind to coaches over the past decade.  The old adage that "there is nowhere to go but up," simply isn't true - for Nutt and Ole Miss, "sideways" is a real possibility.--Gate 21

If you need one man to rally the moderate talent on your team to play over their heads (preferably in a multi-overtime game), Nutt is unquestionably your guy. But if you need someone to take a talented team and have them play consistently well, week in and week out, then you should look elsewhere. He'll be fun to watch at Ole Miss, though.--Razorback Expats 

Bobby Petrino

Does anyone have anything nice to say about him?--Alligator Army

I loathe Petrino, and this is how I treat people I despise.  I did say this part was subjective.  Besides that, no way I can place him above Spurrier.  Subjectively, Spurrier is a better coach, and if any of his Florida years could be included, it wouldn't be close.--A Sea of Blue

I'm going to throw out his time with the Falcons, which was spent under conditions that pretty much no one could succeed under. Instead, I'm looking more at his time at Louisville where he turned it into one of the country's best teams, nearly made the national title game, and helped save the Big East. The immediate drop off after his departure should highlight how good of a coach he was. He still did win his BCS game as the Big East champ though, which unfortunately doesn't mean a whole lot, and it was over surprise ACC champ Wake Forest, which makes it matter even less. He's still got a bright offensive mind and knows how to build a winner, so he goes here.--Year 2

Sylvester Croom

A lot of folks will probably think I am crazy for tabbing Sly Croom as the top coach in the SEC, but I really do strongly feel that he is deserving, and is the best coach in the SEC at present.  I know I'm going to have to defend this one, probably. ... For me a coach's overall record is not nearly as important as their ability to demonstrate progress in moving toward a goal - is the program better, worse, or the same as it was when the coach arrived on campus.  Winning 9 games in your first season at Florida followed by a national championship is not nearly as significant to me as managing to drag a program which has collapsed back to success.  Sly Croom has lost a lot of games in Starkville over the past few years, but it appears that he has finally managed to get the program back on track.  That impresses me a great deal, and that is why he's at the top of my list.--Gate 21

Received every lucky break a coach could hope for last season to finish 8-5 (read: State won all close games played) Don't expect that to happen two years in a row. Yeah, time for Croom to get Munsoned a time or two. Oh yeah, State has yet to field an offense under this former NFL offensive coordinator's watch.--DeepSouthSports

Rich Brooks

Brooks has taken Kentucky to two consecutive bowls, and that should win him some sort of award. I mean, this is a school that used its newly-hired basketball coach to sell football tickets last fall despite having gone to a bowl the previous season. I have a feeling though that any of the other guys on the list could have done that with the personnel Brooks had. I also suspect that many of them would have done it faster than he did. For that reason, he's behind the rest.--Year 2

I feel like Brooks should be higher for what he's done with UK the past few years, but you can argue that it was a happy confluence of talent that built those results and that he hasn't built a program that can sustain that success.--Roll Bama Roll

Bobby Johnson

Nothing I can say except that I am sorry.--Loser with Socks

Someone has to be number 12 and sorry Bobby, you'll be 12 until you go to a bowl. Close doesn't count.--UK Wildcat Country

Vandy's best coach pretty much ever. Unbelievable some 'Dore fans were discussing whether they still wanted him after last year ... I know not making a bowl was a disappointment, but that they're even in the hunt even as the SEC is at its strongest point since I've been following it is a hell of a statement.--The Joe Cribbs Car Wash

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