SEC Football Programs with Best Assistant Coaching Staffs

Randy ChambersAnalyst IFebruary 1, 2013

SEC Football Programs with Best Assistant Coaching Staffs

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    In today's college football world, it seems like head coaches get all of the credit and the assistants get buried in all of the hoopla.

    In all actuality, it is the assistants that do much of the behind-the-scenes work and make sure the players are prepared for game day. In other words, without the assistants doing their job, the head coaches wouldn't be able to succeed the way they do.

    Folks like Nick Saban, Mark Richt and Les Miles are the ones who make the big bucks and get all of the television time. The assistants get a pat on the back and are lucky if even half of the fan base of the program can recognize them in a photo lineup.

    All of that is about to change as we are paying respects to the best assistant coaching staffs in the SEC.

    Here goes.

5. Vanderbilt

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    Vanderbilt? Really? Listen, winning 15 combined games in the last two seasons is not easy, especially if you are the Commodores.

    This staff has been able to do a lot more with less talent around them, and that speaks volumes to the job they have done. You can have all of the guys who get results out of five-star players.

    Give me the ones who are making magic happen with the players that nobody else wanted.

    Herb Hand, offensive line coach - Hand was one of the few guys who was able to survive the coaching change when James Franklin was hired as head coach. It was a terrific decision for everybody involved.

    This is somebody who has had to coach an undersized offensive line (by SEC standards) and was able to produce a 1,000-yard rusher twice in a row with running back Zac Stacy. The Commodores finished 11th in the SEC in rushing yards, but considering what they had to work with, this is impressive stuff.

    Bob Shoop, defensive coordinator - Shoop has bounced all over the place, from coaching schools such as Yale and Army to becoming a head coach for Columbia for a couple of seasons.

    It seems like he has found the right place, coaching the defense for Vanderbilt.

    Despite being on the job for only two years, the Commodores have finished their second-straight season with a top-20 defense.Yes, you read that correctly.

    Again, give me the folks who make something out of nothing.

    George Barlow, defensive backs coach - Guess which team had the third-best pass defense in the SEC last season? Nope.

    It wasn't Florida, LSU or South Carolina. It was Vanderbilt.

    Barlow was able to pull that off in his first season on the job. With many years of coaching experience and a secondary that returns a lot of talent from a year ago, it is going to be fun to watch how things shape up next season.

4. Georgia

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    Georgia does not win 10 or more games in four of the last six years without good coaches. With a combination of youth and a handful of guys that have been around for a while, this program may have one of the most underrated assistant staffs in the sport.

    Todd Grantham, defensive coordinator - Grantham is still fairly new to the job, coaching the Bulldogs defense since 2010. Besides inconsistent struggles last season, Georgia has been a top-five defense in the SEC since he arrived on campus.

    Switching to a 3-4 scheme, Grantham has installed an aggressive unit that flies to the football and gives the team a chance to win every game.

    Top defensive recruits are now committing to this school due to the position Grantham puts them in to succeed.

    Mike Bobo, QB coach/offensive coordinator - Bobo was actually a quarterback for the Bulldogs in the mid-90s and now has brought a bright offensive mind to an SEC power.

    Taking over in 2006, Georgia has had a top-three offense in the SEC the last two seasons and has produced some of the top quarterbacks in the SEC the last few years. Matthew Stafford has gone on to have a successful NFL career, and Aaron Murray is doing well for himself entering his senior year.

    Bobo has helped add balance to this team, and it is paying off.

    Bryan McClendon, running backs coach - Taking over as a running back coach in 2009, McClendon has helped coach many runners with bright futures.

    During his first couple of seasons, Georgia took more of a running-back-by-committee approach. That was until he helped Isaiah Crowell win SEC Freshman of the Year in 2011. Now McClendon has been blessed enough to coach two talented runners in Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, who are the best one-two punch in the SEC. 

    It will be interesting to see what this coach can do entering next season.

3. Florida

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    The Florida assistant coaching staff is still very young and a lot of the pieces are still being moved around. However, with everything that has been accomplished in such a short amount of time, it looks like Will Muschamp is quietly putting together a staff that will soon be able to take over the SEC.

    D.J. Durkin, defensive coordinator - Durkin was promoted to defensive coordinator once Dan Quinn decided he was going to bolt for the Seattle Seahawks.

    No reason to be alarmed, Durkin was the linebackers coach last season and helped mold guys such as Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins into NFL prospects.

    He was also coaching the special teams, a unit that was without question one of the best in the country. He will now have a chance to prove himself on a larger scale, and the promotion should pay off in a big way.

    Brent Pease, offensive coordinator - Florida fans may not be happy with Pease after the subpar performance the Gators offense had last season. However, give this guy a couple of weapons to work with, and the offense should produce at a high level.

    He was able to do some incredible things with Boise State and broke a few school records with his time at Baylor.

    Pease is a creative play-caller and should improve in his second year with the team.

    Tim Davis, offensive line coach - Besides the play of the Gators defense last season, the most impressive part of the team was the offensive line.

    Guys seemed conditioned better than ever and were simply abusing some of the best defensive lines in college football on a consistent basis.

    It was the first season on the job for Davis, but he has a long history working with offensive lines and has helped many players get to the next level.

2. LSU

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    With all of the questionable decisions and play calls Les Miles makes, you can't possibly think the Mad Hatter is the only reason for the success of LSU. The Tigers have put together an impressive staff that has been able to get the job done year after year.

    John Chavis, defensive coordinator - Chavis played on the offensive line in college, so he knows what it takes in trying to figure out how to blow by those husky blockers.

    He has been a defensive coach since the 1980s and has taken the LSU defense to new heights since taking over in 2009. The amount of players he has helped put in NFL is insane, from Jerod Mayo to Patrick Peterson.

    Chavis simply knows defense.

    Frank Wilson, running backs coach - Without Wilson coaching the running backs the way he does, the Tigers may never score on the offensive side of the ball.

    With no consistent quarterback on this team, Wilson has put together a solid running game in each year since he arrived back in 2010.

    Along with making sure a plethora of backs are ready to go, Wilson is also a solid recruiter in his own right.


    Brick Haley, defensive line coach - We can give a lot of the credit to Chavis for the defensive side of the ball, but he has help from defensive line coach Haley as well.

    This is also somebody who has put together a great track record, succeeding at places such as Mississippi State and the Chicago Bears before coming to LSU.

    It is his defensive line that has set the tone for the defense, and the Tigers have had no less than 34 sacks in each year since 2010.

1. Alabama

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    Alabama has without a doubt the best head coach in college football with Nick Saban running the show. So it is only right that the best only brought in the best to help him bring crystal footballs to Tuscaloosa. This is the best assistant coaching staff in the SEC and may be the best in all of college football.

    Kirby Smart, defensive coordinator - Smart may in fact be the most well-known coordinator in the sport.

    Spending many years under Saban's wing, Alabama has had a top-five defense in each of the last five years, including the No. 1 defense in the country the last two seasons.

    It is only a matter of time before Smart becomes a head coach of a major program, but until then, Alabama is fortunate enough to have a brilliant defensive mind helping out a top head coach.

    Burton Burns, associate head coach/running backs coach: Burns has been the running backs coach for Alabama since 2007, and the Tide has averaged more than 200 yards on the ground the last two seasons.

    Last year, the position took a hit depth-wise due to injuries, and a combination of Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon was still able to rush for more than 2,000 yards.

    It was the first time in school history where two runners had produced at least 1,000 yards each.

    Scott Cochran, Director of Strength and Conditioning - It is not too often when a strength coach is recognized for doing a good job.

    But when you actually see this guy in action, you will know why he deserves the big bucks. He encourages all Alabama players to take practice seriously and finish each and every day strong.

    The reason the Tide are able to wear teams down in the fourth quarter is because of Cochran.