SEC coaches bottom to top

The SEC is debatebly the top conference in the land, but who is the top dog among the conference's coaches? Read as InsideTennessee.com counts them down from top to bottom.

The Southeastern Conference is almost certainly the most powerful football conference in the land, but who is the top dog amongst the head coaches in the league.

With football season just under two months away lets take a look at the SEC coaching situation from bottom to top heading into 2011 taking into account time on the job, record, recruiting and overall coaching ability.

Let the debate begin.

12. James Franklin, Vanderbilt

Franklin had a big week last week in recruiting, so why No. 12 you ask? The simple fact is Vanderbilt is still Vanderbilt. Year one should be interesting for the Commodores. One thing is for certain it is going to be tough to top the performance of Robbie Caldwell from last year's SEC Media Days.

Franklin is the first African American to coach a major sport at Vanderbilt, now he must prove he belongs there.

11. Will Muschamp, Florida

Hired just months ago, Muschamp is unproven in the head coaching ranks, but has shown defensive genius under Mack Brown at Texas.

The Gators are starting a new chapter this fall and one of the most interesting matchups of the early season will certainly come when the Vols travel to Gainesville three weeks into the season.

10. Joker Phillips, Kentucky

Phillips, the first African American football coach at Kentucky, is just a year into tenure at Kentucky and similar to Dooley is unproven.

Joker managed to take the Cats to the Compass Bowl in year one, but he still couldn't get over the Big Orange hump. If he can just break the streak he might jump a few spots, at least in the hearts of the big blue faithful.

9. Derek Dooley, Tennessee

It's a harsh reality, especially on this website, but Dooley is a newcomer to the league and is still unproven. With a Music City Bowl loss the new kid on the block fell just below .500 in his opening campaign.

Dooley is certainly seeking immediate help from a talented group of athletes collected in his first two signing classes. This fall will be a telling time for the fans on Rocky Top.

8. Houston Nutt

Nutt started out hot as the head coach of the Rebels with two top 25 rankings in his first two seasons and snagging two consecutive Cotton Bowls, but has cooled off considerably since.

Nutt, now 22-16 at Ole Miss, still manages to clear $2.5 million annually at the helm of the Rebels.

7. Mark Richt, Georgia

The dean of SEC coaches is slipping a little bit as of late. Since the departure of Matt Stafford and Knowshon Moreno some have speculated that Richt's chair is getting a little hot.

It is kind of hard to argue with a record of 96-34, then again another mediocre year and Richt could be looking at a Phillip Fulmer exit.

At this point, Richt is leaning on his two SEC titles, 2002 and 2005 respectively, but the mob has a short memory.

6. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State

It's not easy to win at Mississippi State, but Mullen is managing to get the job done. Mullen is 14-11 as the head coach of the Dogs, but Mullen is still beaming from a 9-4 2010 season and a massive 52-14 win over Michigan in the Gator Bowl.

Mullen managed to finish the 2010 season with a No. 15 ranking at the end of his second season. Not to mention his No. 19 recruiting class in his opening year.

5. Bobby Petrino, Arkansas

Petrino is taking Arkansas to heights not seen since that horrendous fumble in Neyland Stadium. His offensive genius is making the Hogs a scoring juggernaut.

If he can find the defense to accompany his offense they will be calling the Hogs all the way to Atlanta in no time.

Petrino's 2010 campaign ended at 10-3 with a disappointing loss to Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl, bringing his over all record to 23-15. The Hog headman is pulling in $3.5 million in Fayetteville.

4. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina

You are only as good as your last season and for Spurrier that is a great deal. The ‘ole ball coach is at it again up in Columbia. He managed to take the Gamecocks to Atlanta to represent the East.

Spurrier may have climbed even higher if it weren't for his bowl record, just 1-4 at South Carolina, the most recent loss coming at the hands of Florida State in the Chik-fil-A Bowl.

A record of 44-33 helps Spurrier bring in a modest $1.75 million annually.

3. Les Miles, LSU

Sure, you don't have to do much when you recruit a state like Louisiana, but clock management aside Miles just doesn't lose. The simple fact is he is 62-17 in his tenure at LSU.

Did I forget to mention that 2007 BCS National Title? Or the 5-1 post-season bowl record? If anything Miles is a bargain at $3.5 million a year.

Miles is seemingly going no where if he continues to snag top 20 post-season rankings, like he has done in five of his six seasons.

2. Gene Chizik, Auburn

Yeah, yeah, only two years on the job, but it can't be denied. Chizik has come a long way since a disgruntled fan greeted him to Auburn's campus in 2009.

Chizik's biggest challenge may come in 2011 following the departure of Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton, but until then Chizik remains on his pedestal.

After all, Chizik is a cool 2-0 in the post season and his pockets aren't empty at $3.5 million per season.

1. Nick Saban, Alabama

SEC fans may have beef with many parts of this list, but if you deny Nick Saban is the best coach in the conference you need to to reevaluate your idea of good coaching.

Saban, 43-11 at Alabama, has three consecutive 10-win seasons, including an SEC title and a BCS National Title.

The Tide's head man is raking in almost $6 million annually and statues are literally being erected in his honor. Just ask LSU. He knows how to do it. Didn't he win something there too?

Be sure to weigh in HERE.


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