College Football 2011 Rankings: Ranking the Head Coaches of the SEC
The Southeastern Conference is widely recognized as the nation’s top football conference.
The past five national champions have come out of the SEC, and not all of the power is centralized in just one or two teams.
The five national championships are spread across four different schools, and half of the conference’s 12 teams have made a BCS bowl the past four years.
With so many great teams, the SEC has arguably the best collection of coaches in the nation.
Here is the ranking of every SEC head coach.
12. James Franklin, Vanderbilt
Despite being the head coach in waiting at Maryland, James Franklin decided to leave for Nashville and take over the Vanderbilt football program.
Franklin is a very good head coach, but it will take some time to turn around the Commodores.
If Franklin can regularly get Vandy bowl-eligible, his name will rise on this list.
11. Joker Phillips, Kentucky
In Joker Phillips’ first season as Kentucky head coach, he went 6-7 and 2-6 in the conference.
Despite the losing record in the SEC, Kentucky still was able to go to a bowl game for the fifth straight season.
Phillips has continued the success of previous coach Rich Brooks and has Kentucky headed in the right direction.
10. Will Muschamp, Florida
The former head coach in waiting at Texas decided to take the Florida job after former coach Urban Meyer retired.
Will Muschamp was one of the best defensive coordinators in the game, but the jury is still out as to how successful he will be as a head coach.
He inherits a Florida team that is loaded with talent, so success will come easier for him than, say, James Franklin at Vanderbilt.
However, seeing as he hasn’t yet coached a game, the highest he can be on this list is No. 10, but that could very easily change by the end of the year.
9. Derek Dooley, Tennessee
Derek Dooley’s tenure as Tennessee head coach got off to a rocky start, going 2-6 in his first eight games.
However, he was able to right the ship and finish the regular season 6-6 and playing in the Music City Bowl, losing a heartbreaker to North Carolina.
This year, Dooley looks to continue his late-season success and lead the Volunteers back to national prominence.
Despite a losing career record, Dooley has the Volunteers on the right path, but it may take some time for them to contend for a national championship again. When they do, Dooley will be much higher on this list.
8. Houston Nutt, Mississippi
Nutt has been an SEC head coach since 1998, guiding both Arkansas and Ole Miss during that time.
He has been to the SEC Championship Game three times. However, he has failed to win all three times.
Despite the long-term success, Nutt has failed to reach a BCS bowl game. It has not been for a lack of talent either. Nutt’s teams never perform well when there are high preseason hopes for the team.
Nutt needs to get the Ole Miss program among the SEC’s elite in order to move up this list.
7. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
In just two seasons, Dan Mullen has turned around the Mississippi State program.
Last season, Mullen guided the Bulldogs to a 9-4 record and a victory in the Gator Bowl.
Mullen is one of the hottest young coaches in the game, and he has the Bulldogs primed for another big season in the SEC.
6. Gene Chizik, Auburn
Gene Chizik capped off a perfect 14-0 season with a national championship for the Auburn Tigers.
Though he is at the pinnacle of the sport, he still has some work to do to move up on this list.
Everyone left on the list has had long-term success, so Chizik needs to follow up his great 2010 with more conference championships and BCS bowls.
Also, after Chizik went 5-19 in his two seasons at Iowa State, Paul Rhoads has led the Cyclones to a 12-13 record the two subsequent years, including a bowl victory.
Chizik is a great coach, but he needs more sustained success before he goes higher on this list.
5. Bobby Petrino, Arkansas
In seven seasons as a college football head coach, Bobby Petrino has put together a 64-24 record with two BCS bowl appearances and one win.
However, Petrino’s defenses are regularly among the league’s worst, whether at Louisville or Arkansas.
Petrino got the Razorbacks to the Sugar Bowl last season, only to be defeated by Ohio State.
If Petrino can keep Arkansas playing at a high level despite losing quarterback Ryan Mallett, as well as keep improving the defense, he too will move up the list.
4. Les Miles, LSU
Les Miles is one of the toughest coaches to rank.
Despite his success at LSU, which includes the 2007 national championship, his in-game coaching is questionable at best.
His risk-taking is over-criticized. His fourth down conversions are part of the reason he has such a good record at LSU. However, his clock management is awful and will eventually catch up to him.
The Mad Hatter is one of the SEC’s best, in large part due to his quirkiness, but he has too many faults as a coach to be the best.
3. Mark Richt, Georgia
Although Georgia has struggled the past two seasons, Mark Richt is still one of the best coaches in the SEC.
Richt has a career 96-34 record, including a 53-27 record in the SEC. He has also led the Dawgs to two SEC championships, three BCS bowls and two top-three finishes in his 10 years in Athens.
Mark Richt is a great coach and will turn the Bulldogs around in 2011. Giving Georgia its first national championship since 1980 could propel him higher on the list as well.
2. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina
Spurrier is one of the greatest coaches in SEC history.
While at Florida, he won six SEC championships and the 1996 national championship.
Last season at South Carolina, he guided the Gamecocks to a berth in the SEC Championship Game and a 9-5 record.
Spurrier’s legacy in the SEC is solidified; continued success at South Carolina and possibly an SEC championship would just add to it.
1. Nick Saban, Alabama
The best coach in the SEC is Alabama’s Nick Saban.
Saban has won two national titles in the SEC, one with LSU and one with Alabama.
Since taking over in Tuscaloosa, Saban has gone 43-11 and 25-7 in the SEC while reviving the Tide and bringing them back to national prominence.
This year, Saban’s Alabama squad is the favorite to win the SEC and a trendy pick to win it all.
His continued success at multiple SEC schools and revival of one of college football’s most storied teams has given Saban the title of the SEC’s best.