Media tabs Spurrier SEC's best
That's the opinion of 13 media members who covered the SEC Spring Meetings in Sandestin, Fla., recently. Spurrier received 10 first-place votes, a second, a third and a sixth. He's won six SEC titles and had the best record one other year. Most of his best work was done his first seven years at Florida.
Of course, winning the Atlantic Coast Conference title while at Duke is another feather in his cap. And his two-year failure with the Washington Redskins in the NFL didn't detract from his college legacy.
Spurrier finished well ahead of Florida's Urban Meyer, fresh off a national championship at Spurrier's alma mater. Meyer got one first-place vote and seven seconds. He was voted as low as five.
Meyer not only won big at Florida, he won 22 games in two seasons at Utah, including a Bowl Championship Series bowl win over Pittsburgh.
Alabama coach Nick Saban, who had tremendous success in five years at LSU before going to the NFL, was third, just ahead of Auburn's Tommy Tuberville, who got two first-place votes but two sixth-place votes.
Like Spurrier, Saban didn't have success in the NFL. He won 14 games in two years at Miami. Spurrier won 12 games as an NFL coach. But Saban is applauded for winning a national title at LSU in 2003 and claiming two SEC titles in just five years.
It's worth noting that Saban has had just two 10-win seasons in 11 years as a college coach while Spurrier has had nine.
Tuberville has guided Auburn to at least a share of the West Division title in five of seven years and he's beaten rival Alabama five years in a row. And while he's won more SEC games over the past three years than any other SEC coach, he, like Saban, has just two 10-win seasons in 12 college seasons.
Fifth was Georgia's Mark Richt, whose streak of four straight top-10 finishes ended last year. Richt has won two SEC titles, he won at least 10 games four straight seasons and he's recruited well, building a solid program in Athens, Ga.
Placing sixth is Tennessee's Phillip Fulmer, one of four SEC coaches with a national championship. Fulmer was ranked as high as third by an Alabama writer and as low as seventh by four pollsters.
Fulmer's .770 winning percentage ranks among the nation's best for a 10-year head coach, but the fact he hasn't won an SEC title since 1998 and has just two bowl wins in the past eight years hurts his imagine.
Houston Nutt, who guided Arkansas to the West Division title last year, was seventh, just ahead of LSU's Les Miles. One person had Nutt No. 4. Nutt has guided Arkansas to two SEC Championship games but losing seasons in 2004 and 2005 and off-the-field turmoil have left Nutt on the hot seat.
Miles, whose 22-4 record is the same as Meyer's after two seasons, ranged from sixth to 10th in the voting. His detractors say he's winning with Saban's players and he's had enough talent to win two national titles, yet he doesn't have an SEC championship. His supporters point to his two 11-2 seasons and two blowout bowl wins. He's 13-3 in SEC games, the best of any league coach over the past two seasons.
Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson was voted ninth, even though he hasn't made a bowl game yet and has had three two-win seasons in five years in Nashville.
Kentucky's Rich Brooks, who guided the Wildcats to an eight-win season and a bowl victory over Clemson, was 10th. He was last on one ballot.
Mississippi State's Sly Croom was 11th and Ole Miss' Ed Orgeron 12th. Orgeron was last on all but one ballot.
Rank, coach, school (first-place votes) Point total
1. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina (10) 21
2. Urban Meyer, Florida (1) 32
3. Nick Saban, Alabama 45
4. Tommy Tuberville, Auburn (2) 48
5. Mark Richt, Georgia 60
6. Phillip Fulmer, Tennessee 74
7. Houston Nutt, Arkansas 96
8. Les Miles, LSU 98
9. Bobby Johnson, Vanderbilt 116
10. Rich Brooks, Kentucky 132
11. Sly Croom, Mississippi State 137
12. Ed Orgeron, Ole Miss 143
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