0-0.5: Can't be touched
1-1.5: Very safe
2-2.5: Solid position
3-3.5: On the bubble
4-4.5: Warm seat
5: It's time to win now
Being a diehard fan of SEC football, I naturally focused most of my attention on Dodd's projections for the 12 league coaches. My thoughts on Dodd's SEC East ratings are posted elsewhere on this site. My thoughts on his SEC West ratings are as follows:
Nick Saban, Alabama: Saint Nick went 7-6 in his first year at Tuscaloosa, including a humiliating home-field loss to lowly Louisiana-Monroe. Clearly, $4 million doesn't buy what it used to. Saban redeemed himself by signing the nation's top-ranked recruiting class, however, and that has Tide fans drinking the Crimson Kool-Aid again. Dodd's rating: 1.0. My rating: 1.5.
Bobby Petrino, Arkansas: Razorback fans ran off Houston Nutt because he had a 21st century ground attack and a 19th century passing attack. Petrino is known for a high-octane aerial circus, so Hog fans are likely to find him entertaining for a while. If he finishes worse than 7-5 this fall, however, entertainment value won't be enough to stop the wolves from howling. Dodd's rating: 2.0. My rating: 2.0.
Tommy Tuberville, Auburn: With an 80-33 record and a new offense (coordinated by Tony Franklin) that promises to be both flashy and productive, Tuberville appears to be reasonably safe. Another 8-4 regular season, however, could remind him how ugly things can get at the Loveliest Village of the Plains. Dodd's rating: 1.0. My rating: 2.0.
Les Miles, LSU: He won the 2007 national championship with a team that had the best talent in America and still lost two games. Miles' 34-6 record is spectacular but the material he inherited was even more spectacular. Maybe he'll continue to win big with his own recruits. Maybe. Dodd's rating: 0.0. My rating: 1.0.
Houston Nutt, Ole Miss: The Nutt Man couldn't win enough to keep fans happy in Fayetteville but predecessor Ed Orgeron lowered the bar before being run out of Oxford. Still, Orgeron left behind enough quality recruits that Nutt's honeymoon will be a short one. If he finishes worse than 6-6 in Year 1 there will be some grumbling in Rebel Land. Dodd's rating: 2.0. My rating: 2.5.
Sylvester Croom, Mississippi State: Inheriting an utter mess, Croom patiently and painstakingly restored class to the program, on the field and off. The payday was an 8-5 record that included a bowl win and widespread recognition as SEC Coach of the Year for 2007. Still, Croom's overall record is ugly (17-30) and his offenses have been even uglier. That's why he'd better score some points in '08 or he'll be right back on the hot seat. Dodd's rating: 1.0. My rating: 2.5.