Stuart McNair

Alabama Coach Nick Saban is ranked the best coach in the nation by

Last four national championship coaches get top sports in ranking

As most on this site know, I was fortunate enough to work in Alabama’s sports information office in the 1970s, when Paul Bryant’s Crimson Tide was dominating the national college football landscape the way Nick Saban’s Bama teams are today. At that young age, I was of the opinion that the national writers who made their way to Tuscaloosa knew a lot more about college football than did I.

But I grew up, continued to be an observer of the sport, and now realize that I can make reasonable disagreements with more widely-known reporters.

Some things, however, are beyond debate.

For instance, recently ranked the 65 coaches from the Power 5 teams. Are you ready for the surprise No. 1? Yeah, it’s Nick Saban, so that took a lot of research.

As it worked out, the top four were the winners of the last four national championships – Saban in 2015, Urban Meyer of Ohio State in 2014, Dabo Swinney of Clemson in 2016, and Jimbo Fisher of Florida State in 2013.

Almost everyone would have those as one through four in that order.

Jim Harbaugh of Michigan is proving that making a lot of commotion, calling attention to yourself, and being better than average can get you respect. But how did Harbaugh get to No. 5 in this poll without ever having won a championship, either at Stanford or at Michigan?

I would definitely move the next four on the list up in front of Harbaugh. They are Bob Stoops of Oklahoma, Chris Peterson of Washington, David Shaw of Stanford, and Bill Snyder of Kansas State.

Even the next three on the ranking might move up on my list. They were 10. Gary Patterson of TCU, 11. Mark Dantonio of Michigan State, and 12. Mike Gundy of Oklahoma State.

My next move down would be Bobby Petrino at Louisville, who was 13th on the list.

The No. 14 Kyle Whittingham of Utah, 15 Mark Richt of Miami, and 16. Pat Fitzgerald of Northwestern would fall below 17. David Cutcliffe of Duke and 18. James Franklin of Penn State.

The list had Gus Malzahn of Auburn at No. 19, but it’s hard to put him in front of No. 21 Dan Mullen of Mississippi State.

In between those two was No. 20 Kirk Ferentz of Iowa and they were followed by No. 22 Brian Kelly of Notre Dame. Neither moves the needle much for me.

I’d probably move Jim McElwain of Florida up a few spots from No. 23.

It looks like just going through the motions to fill out the top 25 with Paul Johnson of Georgia Tech at 24 and Mike Leach of Washington State at 25.

If one looks just at the Southeastern Confeerence, here is how the had them:

1. Saban, 19. Malzahn, 21. Mullen, 23. McElwain, 27. Bret Bielema of Arkansas, 33. Hugh Freeze of Ole Miss, 37. Will Muschamp of South Carolina, 40. Kevin Sumlin of Texas A&M, 48. Ed Orgeron of LSU, 52. Butch Jones of Tennessee, 53. Derek Mason of Vanderbilt, 54. Kirby Smart of Georgia, 56. Mark Stoops of Kentucky, and 62. Barry Odom of Missouri.

I believe four of those could be unemployed in the SEC next year. They are Bielema, Freeze, Sumlin, and Jones.

The top two from the East, McElwain and Muschamp, both have a background under Saban, as does Smart.

One I would move up is Mark Stoops of Kentucky.

I have no idea where to put Ed Orgeron. I don’t think any college outside of Louisiana would hire him as head coach, but he is in Louisiana and could take advantage of the talent pool for a successful career.

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