Former South Carolina (and before that Florida) Head Football Coach Steve Spurrier was a guest recently on Paul Finebaum’s radio program, and stirred up an interesting topic: The best head football coaching job in the Southeastern Conference.
Although the self-proclaimed Ball Coach paid homage to Alabama and its coach, Nick Saban, Spurrier said, “I think Georgia and LSU are basically the best two.
“Of course Nick Saban has made Alabama the best right now.
“As far as the recruiting advantages, LSU doesn’t have much competition in their state and Georgia pretty much should own their state there.”
For many years, the conclusion has been that Georgia head football coaches have done the least with the most. Georgia, Louisiana, and Ohio are three states with great population and good football with basically one competitive football team (Georgia Tech has been mostly irrelevant since leaving the SEC and Tulane was that way even before leaving the conference).
That’s what Spurrier was looking at.
Every other examination of this subject we have seen or heard has said that Alabama is the best head football coaching job in the SEC. It is an understandable conclusion considering the current run by Saban and the long, long dominance of the SEC by Alabama; not just by Saban, but by Frank Thomas when the SEC was formed in 1933, Paul Bryant for 25 years (1958-82), and now Saban with four national championships in the past seven years.
Alabama has 16 national championships and 25 SEC titles, easily the most.
And it should be remembered that when Spurrier was dismissing Saban’s accomplishments a few years ago, he said that anyone could win at Alabama; that Saban should go somewhere else to prove he was a winner.
Today and tomorrow we’ll look at this subject.
In 1979, a year after I had left Alabama as sports information director to found ’BAMA Magazine, I arranged for David Stirt to interview the Alabama coach before the Tide’s game in Gainesville. Stirt was doing the same thing at Florida that I was at Alabama.
Bryant told Stirt that Florida was “a sleeping giant,” just waiting for the right coach. The next day, Alabama defeated Florida, 40-0. It would take Spurrier’s arrival a decade later to take advantage of the resources of Florida to result in a regularly competitive (and, for a time, dominant) football program.
To be sure, Florida has to share the wealth of its football prospects. Not only are Florida State and Miami, and to a lesser extent other ambitious college football programs in the Sunshine State competing, so are almost all serious football programs in search of those elite Florida high school stars.
The Crimson Tide does not have the advantages of exclusivity in the state, and even at that does not have the population of Georgia, LSU, or Florida. Alabama does have excellent high school football, which is probably in great part the result of Bama success over the decades.
Alabama also is the state university. There are only three SEC states with two SEC teams in them – Alabama, where the Tide job would be considered better than Auburn’s; Mississippi, where the Ole Miss job would be listed above Mississippi State’s; and Tennessee, better than Vanderbilt for a football head coaching job.
Spurrier’s premise was based on potential, and more than a reasonable one.
Most others are looking at results.
Franz Beard, excellent columnist for Scout’s Florida site, Fightin’Gators, looked at a number of factors, in determining the best SEC football coaching job. Many of his determinations were subjective, which is not to say inaccurate. And he probably looked at it from a different perspective than did Spurrier.
Beard looked at many, many criteria – winning tradition, facilities, recruiting (on proven success, not potential), and a handful of intangibles, including his determination of best location relative to intradivisional rivals, money, fan support, game day atmosphere, campus, etc.
Alabama finished first in most categories and among the best in the few it wasn’t first. In Beard’s point system, the finished was:
1. Alabama, 2. LSU, 3. Auburn, 4. Florida, 5. Tennessee, 6. Texas A&M, 7. Georgia, 8. Ole Miss, 9. Arkansas, 10. Mississippi State, 11. South Carolina, 12. Kentucky, 13. Missouri, and 14. Vanderbilt.
NEXT: Alabama is considered best football head coaching job in SEC. Why?