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The 10 Greatest SEC Coaches of All Time: Part Two

Michael ShibleySenior Analyst IAugust 19, 2008

This is part two of a three-part article listing the 10 greatest SEC coaches of all time.  To take a look at Part One, click here.

 

7. Ralph "Shug" Jordan, Auburn (1951-1975): 175-83-7 (.674 pct), one SEC title, one National Title, stadium named

Jordan was both a great coach and a gentleman.  Jordan labored for 25 years on the Plains under the giant shadow cast by Bear Bryant.  Still, Jordan was able to win 175 games and the 1957 National Title. 

That undefeated 1957 team gave up only 28 points all year, only seven to SEC opponents.  That impregnable defense shut out six opponents, including rivals Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama.

Auburn fans loved Jordan for his character even more than the victories.  To them Jordan was, and is, the soul of Auburn football.

 

6. Phillip Fulmer, Tennessee, (1992-present): 147-45 (.766 pct), two SEC titles, one National Title, street named

Things looked bleak for Tennessee before the start of the 1992 season.  Head Coach Johnny Majors had heart bypass surgery and had to miss the first three games while recovering.  Fulmer came in as the interim head coach and got the Vols to 3-0, including upsets of Georgia and Florida.

Majors would return and the Vols slumped, losing three straight.  Sadly, Majors was forced to resign, but Fulmer has never left the sidelines on Rocky Top.

Fulmer's blood is all Tennessee.  For the past 30 years, Fulmer has been a part of the Tennessee family, as a player, assistant coach, and head coach.  A great recruiter and a consistent winner, Fulmer always seems to keep the Volunteers winning. 

Entering his 16th season at the helm, Fulmer has had only one losing season.  From 1995-1998, Fulmer's Vols posted a 45-5 mark, culminating in the 1998 National Title.

 

5. John H. Vaught, Mississippi, (1947-1970, 1973): 190-61-12 (.745 pct), six SEC titles, one National Title, stadium named

In Vaught's first year as Head Coach, Ole Miss went 9-2, won the SEC title, and quarterback Charlie Conerly finished fourth in the Heisman voting.  Vaught won another five SEC titles before hanging it up. 

At the height of his reign, from 1954 to 1963, the Rebels went 90-13-4, played in eight major bowl games, and won the 1960 National Title.

Vaught was an innovator who brought the Split-T to Southern football and won games on the arms of quarterbacks like Conerly, Jake Gibbs, and Archie Manning.

However, defense is what people remember Vaught's teams for.  In a 1969 game against Alabama at Legion Field, the first regular season game college football game to be televised in prime time, Manning had 436 passing yards, 104 rushing yards, and five touchdowns in a 33-32 losing effort. 

After the game, Bryant and Vaught, two old school coaches and friends, met on the field.  Bryant said to Vaught, "Wasn't that the worst college football game you've ever seen?"

 

4. Vince Dooley, Georgia, (1964-1988): 201-77-10 (.715 pct), six SEC titles, one National title

Dooley was hired in 1964 to bring Georgia back to respectability.  25 years later, Dooley left the sideline as the greatest coach in Georgia history. 

Dooley was not much of an innovator.  He preached the old-school religion of football fundamentals: defense, the running game, and special teams.  It was never flashy, but it worked, and the fans loved it.  

Under Dooley, the Bulldogs went to 20 bowl games, and with Herschel Walker and Buck Belue leading the way, Georgia won the 1980 national championship.  Even though Dooley is an Auburn alum, he has stayed devoted between the hedges. 

After spurning an offer to coach his alma mater in 1980 (which went to Georgia alum Pat Dye), Dooley said, "This has been my home for 17 years.  I am a Bulldog and proud to be one." 

After he retired from coaching in 1988, Dooley became full-time athletic director.  After retiring, Dooley was inducted into Georgia's Circle of Honor.

 

That wraps up this edition, click here for part three!

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