First of all, I want to thank cocknfire for giving me the opportunity to contribute to Garnet and Black Attack. I’ve always enjoyed reading this blog and can only hope that I can continue to keep the writing at such a high level.
Second of all, now that I’m live I’m going to start my blogging life by weighing in on the coaches ranking. Below are my rankings and rationalizations.
1. Tommy Tuberville
Although he doesn’t have a national championship, he’s the only coach to go undefeated in the SEC since Phil Fulmer in 1998. That has to count for something. He’s also been very consistent; although Auburn usually doesn’t recruit quite as well as Georgia, Florida, LSU, or Tennessee, Tuberville’s abilities have placed Auburn among those schools as one of the SEC’s elite year in and year out. His ability to find great coordinators has been valuable for Auburn.
2. Mark Richt
I’ll have to admit that this guy competes with Urban Meyer for being my least favorite SEC coach. That said, he’s incredibly talented. He’s another great coach without a national championship, although he may be set to win one this year. He’s a great recruiter and, like Tuberville, he seems to be good at surrounding himself with great assistants. He proved last year that he’s a master motivator when he finally got a consistently underachieving group of players to play to their potential.
3. Steve Spurrier
No, this isn’t a homer pick. This guy ruled the roost in the SEC for a very, very long time, and I don’t think that should be discounted after one subpar year. It’s true that his Florida success and South Carolina failures have a lot to do with the relative talent he had at the two schools, but folks who think that’s a good reason to rank him lowly should probably ask themselves why they rank coaches like Richt and Meyer so highly, considering that those coaches have enjoyed similar talent levels but have failed to use them as well as Spurrier did while he was at Florida.
4. Nick Saban
Another coach who seems to be great at getting good assistants to work for him, he’s also a fantastic recruiter. He built the foundation for LSU’s current success. I would rank him higher, but he really hasn’t spent much time at any one place, so it’s hard to say whether or not he can sustain the brief success he had at LSU. We’ll see how good he really is over the next few years.
5. Urban Meyer
His questionable ethics and arrogance rub me the wrong way. However, there’s no doubt that he’s a mastermind who’s spread attack has changed the way coaches think about offense. He’s also a great recruiter. His Gators are primed for another title run this year.
6. Bobby Petrino
I’m probably a bit higher on this guy than most folks, but I really think he’ll have Arkansas contending in a couple of years. Like Saban, he hasn’t spent much time at any one place, so it’s hard to get a good sense of whether or not he’s capable of building a consistent contender.
7. Phil Fulmer
I’m surprised I have Phil so low, because he’s achieved quite a bit during his time on Rocky Top. However, over the past several years he’s had tons of talent but has consistently underachieved. The days when he had truly great teams seem very long past. The Vols were probably the luckiest team in the history of college football last year, and I don’t think they’ll be very good this year.
8. Les Miles
He’s had a lot of talent at LSU and has won a lot of games. He seems to be a good recruiter and program manager. Some of the decisions he makes during games baffle me. The call to throw the ball at the end of last year's Auburn game was clearly a tactical error that just happened to work. On the other hand, the trust he put in his players during the closing minutes of last year's Florida game probably won that game for the Tigers. I would rank him higher, but I want to see more of what he can do over a long period of time.
9. Houston Nutt
Probably the hardest to rank of them all. He rebuilt the Arkansas program overnight, and while his teams haven’t been consistent players on the national scene, he has won two Western Division titles. His team in 2006 was one of the best in the country at its peak. However, he let off-the-field drama and foolish battles with his assistants and prized QB recruit ruin his chance to have a national title contender in 2007, and I think that reflects poorly on his coaching ability. He’ll have a chance to redeem himself at Ole Miss.
10. Bobby Johnson
This guy should get lots of credit for having the toughest coaching job in the United States. Coaching Vanderbilt to wins over Georgia and Tennessee is nothing short of remarkable and was unthinkable five years ago.
11. Rich Brooks
He hasn’t been consistent at Kentucky, and he wasn’t consistent at Oregon either. He’s obviously a decent coach and has done well by Kentucky’s standards, but I think he probably peaked last year.
12. Sly Croom
I like Sly and think he’s capable, but I think his success last year was a fluke, and his previous teams were horrid. He gets some credit for the situation he walked into, but only so much. However, if he can turn Mississippi State into a consistent winner, I’ll happily move him up the list.