Franklin put together a season of epic proportions at Vandy where words like "historic" and "first time in....." seemed to be thrown around every week. Rather than looking at what Franklin did with the 'Dores (that is for another article) here is a look at the other coaches in the SEC, and why they shouldn't win it.
7 - Auburn - Gene Chizik - No chance. Fired at the end of the season when everyone finally realized he couldn't win without Cam Newton. This was despite constantly pulling in top ten recruiting classes.
6 - Arkansas - John L. Smith - No chance. Came into the job because of the Bobby Petrino affair (literally) and soon left Hog fans wishing Petrino were back at the helm. Fired after the season.
5 - Ole Miss - Hugh Freeze - Not likely. In a weaker group he may have had a chance as he pulled a Rebels team which nothing was expected of to a respectable 6-6 record and bowl eligibility. Too many other coaches had special seasons.
4 - Mississippi State - Dan Mullen - No chance. Was probably the front runner mid way through the season as the Bulldogs were unbeaten and ranked 11th in the nation. Falling apart down the stretch (when they played good teams) took him out of contention.
3 - Texas A&M - Kevin Sumlin - The other major contender. Sumlin took the SEC virgins to a 10-2 record, a massive upset of #1 Alabama, and most likely a traditional New Year's Day bowl game. He is a legitimate threat to win the award, but some would argue that he has chanced upon a once in a life time quarterback in Johnny Football.
2 - LSU - Les Miles - No chance. Miles ruined his (and LSU's) season with multiple bonehead calls in the Bama game. The flirtation with Arkansas will not help one bit.
1 - Alabama - Nick Saban - Potential spoiler. Saban is two wins away from winning three National Titles in four years which would put him in rarified company. I don't know that Bama were spectacular enough for him to win though as the program at this point is expected to be close to undefeated every year.
7 - Kentucky - Joker Philips - No chance. Horrible season; rightly fired.
6 - Tennessee - Derek Dooley - See above but with exclamation points.
5 - Missouri - Gary Pinkel - No chance. Kind of a nothing season for Mizzou who took far longer than A&M to adjust to SEC life.
4 - Vanderbilt - James Franklin - Should win it. The fact that Vanderbilt has EIGHT wins should tell you all you need to know. The fact that the end of the season was a string of blow outs cements it.
3 - South Carolina - Steve Spurrier - No chance. Spurrier did a major job in picking his team up after the Marcus Lattimore injury which had the potential to derail the season. The back to back losses to LSU and Florida killed his shot though.
2 - Florida - Will Muschamp - Another potential spoiler. Muschamp has had one of the quieter 11-1 seasons in college football history, completely turning round the program after a miserable 7-6 last year. Add in the No. 4 ranking and likely BCS Bowl and you have a resume which oozes quality.
1 - Georgia - Mark Richt - Has to have a shot. With Georgia being in the SEC Title game Richt has to have a shot at Coach of the Year honors. The Georgia resume is pretty light however (just one ranked win) and the one loss was a total blowout at the hands of South Carolina.
So, looking at the potential candidates this should really come down to a straight battle between Franklin and Sumlin. The fact that Franklin has done what he has at Vandy, though, will mean plenty in the eyes of the voters and with any luck he will win the trophy to cap off an epic Vanderbilt season.
James Franklin (VM-Stan Jones)