SEC Coaches Power Ranking: Who's on Top After Urban Meyer's Retirement?

Patrick MangumContributor IApril 10, 2011

SEC Coaches Power Ranking: Who's on Top After Urban Meyer's Retirement?

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    I put together an SEC Power Ranking and the debate that was generated from one statement got me thinking. I wrote that the retirement of Urban Meyer left Nick Saban alone as the best coach in the SEC.

    In this ranking, I endeavor to objectively rank the top coaches in the SEC. I graded each coach according to four categories: winning percentage, bowl wins, championships (SEC and National) and my own personal ranking.

    With my personal ranking ("Pat's Ranking"), I came from the perspective of an AD, with unlimited resources, in charge of putting together the best football program possible starting with hiring one of the coaches in the SEC. It is a ridiculous scenario, I agree, but it was my attempt to objectify my subjectivity. 

    Each coach is listed along with his grade (on a 100 point scale). 

12. James Franklin: 4.175

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    Pat's Ranking: No. 11

    Win %: .000

    Bowl Wins: 0

    Championships: 0


    Former VCU coach Shaka Smart has taken the Vanderbilt football job.

    Just kidding.

    Although with Vanderbilt seemingly finally taking their football program seriously, we get a chance to see if a smaller school with less resources can make a run in the SEC, like VCU did in the NCAA Tournament.

    Stanford was able to earn a trip to a BCS bowl last year out of the Pac-10. I don't think the gap between Stanford and the rest of the Pac-10 was as great as the gap that now stands between Vanderbilt and the rest of the SEC. 

11. Will Muschamp: 10.425

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    Pat's Ranking: No. 8

    Win %: .000

    Bowl Wins: 0

    Championships: 0


    Will Muschamp has coached under some great coaches and was embraced by Mack Brown as successor to the Texas coaching throne. Even so, he has yet to step on a sideline on a fall game day as a head coach.

    If we were talking about entire coaching staffs, Muschamp's staff would be higher on this list. I factored in Will Muschamp's hiring ability in my personal ranking but also considered the reputation of Florida being a launching pad to other jobs in Muschamp's ability to make the hires that he did.

    Let's get his childhood straight. He was born in Rome, GA and went to high school in Rome. He was co-captain of the Georgia Bulldogs ('91-'94). My point is that if he was hired by Georgia they would have claimed him even more than Gator fans do now.

    The fact that between being born and going to high school, Will Muschamp having lived in Gainesville only means that he understands the dynamic of Florida football in the SEC better than most.

10. Joker Phillips: 14.575

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    Pat's Ranking: No. 10

    Win %: .462 (ninth in SEC)

    Bowl Wins: 0

    Championships: 0


    Joker Phillips should be a better coach with a year of SEC head coaching experience under his belt, just as former Gators coach Urban Meyer was a better coach his second year in the league. As a side note, Urban Meyer would have scored a 95.754 on this ranking, easily good enough for first place.

    Phillips quarterbacked his high school to two state championships and played WR at Kentucky ('81-'84).

    He has been in control of the Wildcat offense since 2004 when he took over as offensive coordinator. 

9. Derek Dooley: 18.75

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    Pat's Ranking: No. 12

    Win %: .460 (tenth in SEC)

    Bowl Wins: 1 (T-eighth in SEC)

    Championships: 0


    I think Derek Dooley may just be a stop gap hire for the Tennessee program, but at least he has the Volunteers headed in the right direction. 

    Dooley was the athletic director at Louisiana Tech. Maybe Tennessee should fire Mike Hamilton and give Dooley the AD job, under one condition: He must hire his own coaching replacement within three years.

8. Dan Mullen: 35.425

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    Pat's Ranking: No. 7

    Win %: .560 (seventh in SEC)

    Bowl Wins: 1 (T-eighth in SEC)

    Championships: 0


    Dan Mullen's offense is perfect for a school like Mississippi State. With the spread option game, the Bulldogs are able to be competitive in the SEC west. Let's see how "Mullens" does this year without defensive coordinator Manny Diaz.

    There is an unprecedented excitement around the Mississippi State program. I expect Mullen to get better and better each year as a head coach. I look for him to continue to evolve his offense as he is able to get better talent to come to Starkville.

7. Houston Nutt: 43.740

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    Pat's Ranking: No. 9

    Win %: .617 (sixth in SEC)

    Bowl Wins: 4 (fifth in SEC)

    Championships: 3 Division (T-third in SEC)

    0 Conference

    0 National


    Houston Nutt has been in the league for awhile and has had some success. That's about all you can say about him. He does his best when expectations are low and can play the underdog role pretty well. It's good be your best when you're backed into a corner, but to have that be your defining characteristic...I'm not so sure about that.

    The "Right Reverend" Houston Nutt can come off as a bit of a swindler to some, but he has over a decade of SEC coaching experience and has a fire and swagger unlike any other coach.

    He's down on my personal ranking because he's never proven he can win when he is expected to.

6. Bobby Petrino: 56.25

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    Pat's Ranking: No. 4

    Win %: .727 (second in SEC)

    Bowl Wins: 3 (sixth in SEC)

    Championships: 0


    Hopefully Ohio State and the NCAA will do the right thing and forfeit the Buckeye's Sugar Bowl win over Arkansas.

    That would keep Ohio State's losing streak against the SEC going and remove from the record books a disappointing end to Bobby Petrino's breakout season in the SEC.

    Petrino gets credit in this ranking for his high winning percentage and bowl wins at Louisville.

    He gained the reputation of a offensive mastermind when he served as the Jacksonville Jaguars' offensive coordinator under Tom Coughlin in 2001.

    Arkansas fans are not going to like this ranking. A lot of the comments I received regarding the best coach debate were from Razorback fans lobbying for Petrino to be considered. 

    Bobby Petrino wins games and has won a Big East title before, but we're talking about the best coach in the SEC right now and Big East conference titles don't mean a thing.

    Still you can see that I ranked him as the fourth best coach in my personal ranking, so don't get on my case Hogs fans. 

5. Gene Chizik: 63.669

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    Pat's Ranking: No. 3

    Win %: .529 (eighth in SEC)

    Bowl Wins: 2 (seventh in SEC)

    Championships: 1 Divisional (sixth in SEC)

    1 Conference (sixth in SEC)

    1 National (T-second in SEC)


    It's funny what a championship ring will do to a coaches reputation. The coaches themselves will tell you that it doesn't make them a better coach. To the people who judge greatness (me in this situation), accomplishments give something quantifiable that can be counted and ranked.

    Really, only the players can tell you how good a coach really is because that is how a coach is truly judged: What kind of impact did the coach have on the players? Did the coach help the players to achieve their goals? What did the coach teach? What did the players learn?

    I am merely an observer so I go by accomplishments, and he has a big ol' ring now. 

    He earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Florida in 1985 and received his master's degree in guidance and counseling.

    He is 22-5 in the SEC and is at No. 3 on my personal ranking because of his understanding of delegation, his character, and his experience. We know he can keep a team's focus on the task at hand in the face of major distractions as he did last year with the Cam Newton saga.

4. Mark Richt: 77.504

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    Pat's Ranking: No. 5

    Win %: .738 (first in SEC)

    Bowl Wins: 7 (T-first in SEC)

    Championships: 3 Division (third in SEC)

    2 Conference (third in SEC)

    0 National


    I heard someone say that the Bulldogs were supposed to have a breakout year last year. I don't think it's possible for a team with the longest tenured coach in the SEC to have a breakout year.

    If the Bulldogs have a big year in 2011, it won't even be a resurrection, it will be a rescue.

    Richt's seat has to be getting hot with all the recent success of new coaches in the SEC. Urban Meyer wins the National Championship in his second year, Nick Saban goes undefeated in the regular season in his second year, Gene Chizik wins it all in his second year, Bobby Petrino goes to a BCS bowl his second year, and Dan Mullen leads a Mississippi State revival in his second year. That is what you call a trend.

    He spent 14 years as an assistant at FSU, was born in Boca Raton, FL and graduated from the University of Miami in 1982: three facts that show that as a Gator fan born in North Florida, I was meant to dislike Mark Richt long before he took over at Georgia. 

3. Les Miles: 72.114

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    Pat's Ranking: No. 6

    Win %: .703 (fifth in SEC)

    Bowl Wins: 6 (T-third in SEC)

    Championships: 2 Divisional (fifth in SEC)

    1 Conference (fourth in SEC)

    1 National (T-second in SEC)


    Coaching isn't all about the X's and O's...or late game clock management apparently.

    You can't argue against success. 

    Les Miles exudes confidence and courage, and he knows how to put together a damn fine football team.

    His football team takes on his attitude and personality, and his players love to play for him.

    He took over a well running machine when Nick Saban left for the NFL and gets credit for keeping it going.

    LSU goes into 2011 as a serious contender for the National Championship. 

2. Nick Saban: 90.558

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    Pat's Ranking: No. 1

    Win %: .717 (third in SEC)

    Bowl Wins: 6 (T-third in SEC)

    Championships: 5 Divisional (second in SEC)

    3 Conference (second in SEC)

    2 National (first in SEC)


    Nick Saban is the coach I would most like to have right now in the SEC, but he is not the top coach in this ranking.

    He set LSU rolling in the early 2000's, and the Tigers haven't stopped since. He brought the Louisiana State football program to annual national prominence after they were SEC doormats for much of the '90s.

    His name is already sure to ring true for years to come along with the other Crimson Tide legendary leaders (Saban Field at Bryant-Denny Stadium?).

    There is no ceiling for this Alabama football team with Saban as the head coach.

    Though he has never shown he can sustain long-term success with a particular team, I don't see that as being a problem. His defense is like a factory producing top-knotch talent and consistent play.

    Let's see how Saban handles the constant pressure and expectation that comes with the territory of winning big at a big time program in the SEC. Urban Meyer retired after last fall in no small part because of it. 

    Saban was Bill Belichick's defensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns (91-94).

    Nick Saban came up short on this ranking of the best coaches in the SEC by the slimmest of margins.

1. Steve Spurrier: 90.679

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    Pat's Ranking: No. 2

    Win %: .716 (fourth in SEC)

    Bowl Wins: 7 (T-first in SEC)

    Championships: 8 Divisional (first in SEC)

    6 Conference (first in SEC)

    1 National (T-second in SEC)


    First of all, he can make Erin Andrews adoringly gaze at him like that. That should be enough to land Steve Spurrier at No. 1 on any sports ranking on Bleacher Report.

    He is the coach I grew up watching (I was five years old when he took over as head coach at Florida in 1990).

    Steve Spurrier was born in Miami Beach, FL and went to high school in Johnson City, TN before coming back to Florida to go to college. 

    On my personal ranking, he's my number two only because I was going on the criteria of best coach right now.

    I'm sure Steve would admit that he doesn't do as much actual coaching as he used to. This year though, he's back calling the offense full-time and he comes into the season with the highest expectations the Gamecocks have had in quite some time, if ever.

    Spurrier hopes to join Bear Bryant and Nick Saban as the only coaches to win SEC Championships with two different teams.

    When winning percentage, bowl wins and championships are taken into consideration, Steve Spurrier is the best coach in the SEC.