SEC's Full of Good Coaches

As you've probably noticed on as well as many other sites and publications, the summer is a time for compiling lists while we wait for the beginning of another football season. At least now that it's July, we're just a few weeks away from the SEC Media Days and the greatest ensemble of college coaches in the nation.

No one (or at least very few) debate that the SEC is the best conference in all of college football, and to examine just how good the leadership is in the SEC, the University of Tennessee College of Journalism's Tennessee Journalist recently published a story ranking the conference's coaches from top to bottom. There was no bias on Rocky Top as they placed their own head coach, Phillip Fulmer, in the bottom half of the rankings – No. 8.

Overall, the list was pretty good, but here's our adjustment to their list…

Les Miles
Tennessee Journalist - #1 - #2 –
Les Miles has maintained the winning tradition re-established by Nick Saban at LSU, and the Tigers are coming off a national championship, but that doesn't mean he should be handed the top spot on a list of coaches in the SEC. After all, four other coaches in the conferences have won the big one. Many of the decisions that Miles makes can be easily second-guessed – five fourth down attempts in the win against Florida last season comes to mind. And, the Tigers still managed to lose a pair of games in the conference last year before making their way to the national title.

Urban Meyer
Tennessee Journalist - #2 - #1 -
Has Urban Meyer earned his way to the top of the coaching ranks in the SEC? It may be too soon to tell, but let's take a look at what Meyer has accomplished in just three short years in Gainesville. He led Florida to its second national championship, won an SEC title, produced the school's third Heisman Trophy, re-energized a program that was spinning in the wrong direction and landed top five recruiting classes in each of the last three seasons. If things fall into place, Florida is poised to make a run at another national title this season.

Tommy Tuberville
Tennessee Journalist - #3 - #3 -
It took a couple of years for Tommy Tuberville to get his footing at Auburn, but once the Tigers got rolling, they got rolling. Auburn was robbed of a national title chance under Tuberville in 2004 when the Tigers went 13-0, and since then, Auburn has been a consistent contender in the West. Auburn has won or shared the SEC West crown five times under Tuberville, and they're favorites to do so this year.

Nick Saban
Tennessee Journalist - #4 - #5 -
Nick Saban did bring the LSU football program back from the dead, but he's won only 66 percent of his games as a head coach, was mediocre at Michigan State and with Miami in the NFL and led Alabama to only a 7-6 record in his first year in Tuscaloosa. Yes, he won a national championship at LSU, but his five-year stint wouldn't go down as remarkable. Saban has a knack of picking up and leaving town every time things get good, so there's no track record of him maintaining success at any one place.

Mark Richt
Tennessee Journalist - #5 - #4 -
Nothing flashy, but the Bulldogs win on a consistent basis. Richt has led Georgia to 10-plus wins in five of seven seasons, and only once have the Dawgs not finished in one of the top two spots in the SEC East under Richt. Five times, Georgia has finished in the top 10, and he boasts a 5-2 bowl record, including three BCS bowl appearances.

Steve Spurrier
Tennessee Journalist - #6 - #6 -
The last couple of seasons haven't exactly ended the way Gamecock fans envisioned them, but Spurrier has brought interest to South Carolina in his first three seasons. Last year, he even had the Gamecocks competing for an SEC title in November. And you can't forget about the Ol' Ball Coach's contributions to SEC football before heading to Columbia.

Bobby Petrino
Tennessee Journalist - #7 - #12 -
Bobby Petrino led a Louisville team to an 11-1 record in likely the weakest BCS conference. He then cashed in and went to the Atlanta Falcons spending a miserable season having the Michael Vick mess thrown in his lap. He's a great offensive coordinator, but he's going to have to prove himself as a head coach in the SEC before he can climb up the list.

Phillip Fulmer Tennessee Journalist - #8 - #7 - Yes, Tennessee has had disappointing seasons, especially in recent years, but the Vols have also been a contender in the SEC East in almost every season under Fulmer. And he's one of five coaches on the conference to guide his team to the ultimate prize.

Houston Nutt
Tennessee Journalist - #9 - #9 -
Give Houston Nutt credit for luring one of the best running backs in SEC history to Fayetteville, and the Razorbacks won a very competitive and deep SEC West two years ago before losing to Florida in the SEC Championship Game. But Nutt never put Arkansas in a position to win a national title, which he said was possible when he first arrived at Arkansas.

Rich Brooks
Tennessee Journalist - #10 - #10 -
We all know that Kentucky puts its basketball tradition ahead of its football, and most of the time, Rich Brooks and the Wildcats are battling for fourth place in the East at best. In recent years, Brooks has been able to capitalize on some good talent, but not enough to make Kentucky a serious contender in the conference.

Sylvester Croom
Tennessee Journalist - #11 - #8 -
At the end of last season, Sylvester Croom upgraded Mississippi State from doormat to relevant status. MSU still has a long way to go, but at least people are taking notice.

Bobby Johnson
Tennessee Journalist - #12 - #11 -
Let's face it, Vanderbilt has the lowest investment in football compared to any of the other SEC schools. It's the only private school in the conference, its alumni tend to leave the Nashville area after graduation, and Bobby Johnson is the lowest paid coach in the conference. The fact that Vandy has been somewhat competitive recently is an accomplishment in itself and a testament to the recruiting Johnson has done under stringent academic requirements.

Questions or comments? Contact's Chris Chmielenski

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