Sunday, April 22, 2007

Ranking SEC Coaches Isn't Hard Part Deux

So, last week I tore apart TSN's Tom Dienhart's attempt at ranking the current SEC coaches. Specifically, I think Dienhart thought too much about the topic and outsmarted himself. I got through the first half of the coaches, and now I'm giving you the extremely exciting stuff: the bottom six.

7. Houston Nutt - 0 SEC Titles in 9 SEC seasons
My brain actually hurt a little bit during the process of trying to decide whether to put Nutt at 7 and Miles at 8, or vice versa. Why did I put Nutt over Miles? One reason: longevity. Of course, this longevity could very well come to an end in January of 2008, but for now, it helps Houston Nutt. Tons of writers and fans want to put Nutt higher than this, but what exactly has he done? Of the 9 years he's coached Arkansas, he had a winning record in 6 of them, but only a winning SEC record in THREE SEASONS. He's taken the Razorbacks to 2 SEC title games, but hasn't won one, and lost the two visits by an average of 19 points. Nutt has done well at a program that has little to no recruiting lake, but let's not make Houston Nutt more than what he really is: a mediocre SEC coach.

8. Les Miles - 0 SEC Titles in 2 SEC seasons
Miles is a very tough guy to rank. Tons and tons of fans talk about how clueless he is, and I'm not sure I "get it." He doesn't sound like the most intelligent coach ever, but he's 22-4 in his two seasons at LSU. And before you mumble to yourself, "With Saban's players," you're right! But look at the three recruiting classes he's had: 22nd in 2005 during the Saban transfer, 7th in 2006, and 4th in 2007. It's not like Les Miles is an awful recruiter. He's at the top of the SEC! Another thing you hear is, "It will catch up with him." It? What's "it"? 2007 and 2008 will give us a pretty good idea if Les Miles deserves higher than 8th in the SEC. He's only lost 1 game at home, he motivates his players, and he recruits very well. He has nowhere to go but up.

9. Rich Brooks - 0 SEC Titles in 4 SEC seasons
Kentucky's 8-5 2006 season catapults Brooks up a couple slots. Yes, it's all about achievement, not some idea that we can all tell who's a good Xs and Os guy. Brooks accomplished nothing at Kentucky in his first 3 seasons, but did a fantastic job in 2006. The Cats have the best QB in the conference, one of the most versatile backs in the country, and a good WR in Keenan Burton. Will they struggle in 2007 after a +2 CGVR and horrible performance on the defensive side of the ball? Probably. But taking Kentucky to an 8-5 record and a bowl win, followed by a 6-6ish type season is an excellent job in Lexington.

10. Bobby Johnson - 0 SEC Titles in 5 SEC seasons
Johnson is consistently the most overrated coach in the SEC. Johnson-lovers (zing!) always talk about the academic standards, the terrible history, yadda yadda yadda. Well, guess what? He is no better than his predecessors. Bobby Johnson has led Vanderbilt to a 15-43 record in his 5 seasons. Former Vandy coach Woody Widenhofer led Vandy to a 15-40 record from 1997-2001, the 5 seasons prior to Johnson. Want more? From 1992-1996, the era before Widenhofer, Vanderbilt went 18-37! "Oh, but Johnson is doing more with less." I call shenanigans! SHENANIGANS! He's done LESS WITH MORE. He had a top 15 draft pick in Jay Cutler and still couldn't muster a record better than those who came before him. Consider the myth busted.

11. Ed Orgeron - 0 SEC Titles in 2 SEC seasons
He's been called the "Poor Man's Ron Zook" by some, and the Angry Cajun by others. I'll admit, I love Coach O. I love his enthusiasm, I love his recruiting prowess, and I love his Hummer TV ad. His recruiting classes have ranked 30th, 16th, and 26th, which is nothing short of a miracle in Oxford. However, he needs to win some games, and he knows it. 2007 will be integral to his tenure at Ole Miss. He's only beaten 4 Division 1 schools, but in 2006, he had some moral victories, barely losing to Auburn and Georgia. Ole Miss will need to turn those close losses into wins, and with a boatload of returning players, they have the opportunity to move up.

12. Sylvester Croom - 0 SEC Titles in 3 SEC seasons
Sometimes a nice guy gets put into an impossible, horrible situation. That's Croom's life right now. He's won 3 games every season at Mississippi State, with a nice win over Florida in 2004. His teams just aren't staying very close to the upper tier teams. You'll find a 3 point loss every year on the schedule, but they can't seem to get past 3 wins. Croom went 2-6 in the SEC in 2004, 1-7 in 2005, and 1-7 in 2006. He loses a ton off a good defense, too, so don't expect anything more than 3 wins in 2007.

There - SEC coach rankings made easy. Feedback is appreciated, even from you, Tom Dienhart.

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