Anybody that follows college football knows that Nick Saban is the best coach in the SEC, as well as the entire country. From winning a national title at LSU to winning three titles in the last four years at Alabama, there is no doubt that Saban is in a class by himself.
But when it comes to the next best head coach in the SEC, who would it be? Steve Spurrier? Les Miles? Could it be James Franklin or Kevin Sumlin?
The best SEC coach behind Saban is the guy that has been the most consistent, and that’s Mark Richt.
It’s known that Richt has not won a national title. It’s also known that Richt has not had the same success his last six years of his career compared to his first six. But with Richt at the helm, the Bulldogs will always be in the hunt for the SEC title, and that’s what really matters.
We all know what Richt has accomplished during his time in Athens—two SEC titles, five SEC East title and two Sugar Bowl victories, just to name a few. But the key to Richt's success is consistency, which is not an easy task in the SEC.
Out of the 12 years Richt has been the head coach of the Bulldogs, his teams have won eight or more games 11 of the 12 seasons. Richt has also racked up eight 10-win seasons during that span.
Richt never gets too high after and win and never gets too low after a loss. Even when things are looking like the Bulldogs have hit rock bottom (like the 2010 season), he sticks to the plan and the players execute it.
Richt understands that there will be times when things won’t go your way and that there will be a lot of ups and downs in the SEC. It’s a matter of how a team reacts when it gets punched in the mouth and the Bulldogs react well when things are looking gloomy.
But let’s go back to the one thing that Richt does not have on his resume and that is a national championship. He has been close a few times (2002, 2007 and 2012) but one team and/or one play has kept the Bulldogs from holding the crystal ball.
The thing is, as much as the Bulldogs, or any other team for that matter, would love to win a national title, so many things have to happen in order for that to become a reality.
Winning is the No.1 way to reach the national title game, but there has to be a little luck and help from other teams as well. That is why the top priority for any SEC team before the season starts is to win the conference. If a team does that, everything will play itself out.
And speaking of national titles, Miles has one, as well as Steve Spurrier. Could they be considered as the next-best coach in the conference behind Saban?
Spurrier had a lot of success as a head coach at Florida. Along with the national title he won in 1996, Spurrier won six conference titles from 1993-2000. He has also made South Carolina a respectable program as it has won 22 games the last two seasons. However, Spurrier has yet to win an SEC title with the Gamecocks, has yet to reach a BCS bowl and he has a 3-3 record in bowl games.
Miles, on the other hand, has put together a better resume. Since 2005, Miles has had six 10-win seasons, won a national title in 2007 and has a 5-3 record in bowl games. But Miles can be very risky when it comes to his play calls and while he benefitted from it earlier in his career, it has come to bite him the last few seasons, which is why he has not been able to get over the hump.
The SEC not only has some of the most talented players in the country, it also features some of the most respected coaches.
Saban is at the top and nobody comes close to touching him. But because of what Richt has done at UGA since 2001, he has to be the silver medalist when it comes to the top coaches in the conference .