Rating the SEC coaches

Southeastern Conference football is so competitive these days that three good men – Phillip Fulmer, Tommy Tuberville and Sylvester Croom – were shown the door following the 2008 season.

So, who's the cream of the crop among the returning SEC coaches? I thought you'd never ask ...

1. Urban Meyer, Florida: He's won two national titles in three years ... with a serious run at a third likely next season. How can you argue with that?

2. Nick Saban, Alabama: Elevating a program from where the Tide was (7-6) in 2007 to where it was (12-2) in 2008 took some serious brainpower. Remember: This season's losses were to teams who ranked 1-2 in the final national poll and combined for 26 wins in 27 games.

3. Bobby Johnson, Vanderbilt: To go 4-4 in league play starting guys who (with few exceptions) would be second- or third-stringers at the other 11 SEC schools is the ultimate testament to Johnson's resourcefulness.

4. Houston Nutt, Ole Miss: Granted, he inherited some excellent players from Ed Orgeron. Still, the Nutt Man raised the Rebels from an 0-8 league mark in 2007 to a 5-3 mark in '08. That's impressive.

5. Bobby Petrino, Arkansas: The Razorbacks improved dramatically from Game 1 to Game 12 in 2008, even with Casey Dick at quarterback.

6. Mark Richt, Georgia: I've always admired his class but lopsided losses to Alabama and Florida have me wondering if he'll ever win the big one.

7. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina: Perhaps you've noticed that the Ol' Ball Coach isn't producing points in Columbia the way he did in Gainesville. Wouldn't you think he could've developed one quarterback in four years?

8. Rich Brooks, Kentucky: Three consecutive bowl games is unheard-of in Lexington. Keep in mind that the '08 Wildcats went just 2-6 in SEC play, however, and lost decisively to the worst Tennessee team in ages.

9. Les Miles, LSU: Sure, he won a national title in 2007 but he lost two games with the most talented roster in college football. Then he took most of the same guys and went 3-5 in SEC play last fall.

X. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State: To be determined

X. Lane Kiffin, Tennessee: To be determined

X. Gene Chizik, Auburn: To be determined

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