Fulmer 8th among SEC coaches?

Tennessee's head football coach needs to end his SEC championship drought in 2007. Otherwise, he might not be back in 2008. That's not the rant of some overzealous fan. It's the opinion of a noted sports writer.

Earlier this month Tom Dienhart posted an article on sportingnews.com rating the 12 Southeastern Conference coaches. He pegged UT's Phillip Fulmer No. 8 on the list, with the following explanation:

"Excuse Fulmer as he takes a few deep breaths. He has to be feeling the heat. The guy hasn't won the SEC since 1998. And title droughts of that duration aren't understood at football factories like the one in Knoxville. What's my point? This could be Fulmer's last season if he doesn't win the SEC. Either way, I think he should pass this hot potato program after the season and head straight to the College Football Hall of Fame."

The top-ranked SEC coach is former LSU and Miami Dolphin head man Nick Saban, now in his first year at Alabama. Dienhart calls him "a genius at work."

South Carolina's Steve Spurrier is second on the list. Dienhart notes that "Spurrier WILL win big in Columbia. He's just gotta. He's too good."

Florida's Urban Meyer, coming off a 2006 national title, is No. 3 on the list. Dienhart notes that Meyer is "eying another national title. Given the mega-talent he's assembled in Gainesville, that should come pretty quickly."

No. 4 in the rankings is Auburn's Tommy Tuberville, who Dienhart says "has made the Tigers perhaps the premier program in the nation's premier conference."

Dienhart tabs Arkansas's Houston Nutt No. 5 but concedes that the Razorback boss may be on the way out. "Once he's gone," Dienhart writes, "Hogs fans finally may realize exactly what they had: A great, great coach."

Georgia's Mark Richt checks in at No. 6, with the notation that he is "the voice of sanity in a conference renowned for insanity."

Checking in at No. 7 – one spot above Fulmer – is Vanderbilt's Bobby Johnson. Dienhart explains his pick in these words: "Ask yourself this question: If Johnson coached Tennessee, do you think he'd ever lose to Vandy? You know the answer to that deep down in your Big Orange heart."

Rounding out Dienhart's SEC coach ratings are Kentucky's Rich Brooks at No. 9, LSU's Les Miles at 10, Mississippi State's Sylvester Croom at 11 and Ole Miss' Ed Orgeron at 12. At the end of the Orgeron note, Dienhart deadpans: "Why again was David Cutcliffe fired?"

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