On Tuesday, a column (if you can really call it that) at The Sporting News website created a controversy amongst message boarders, and soon, bloggers. Tom Dienhart, a so-called "expert," made this list. Honestly, I'm not really sure where to begin, as it's the single most inaccurate ranking of SEC coaches I've ever seen (and there have been a lot). Is it really that hard to create an accurate, understandable list? Is it really that hard to not look like an idiot after creating such a list? Dienhart was either stoned or is completely devoid of college football knowledge.
A list like this does have some room for discussion, as the acheivements of a lot of these coaches are similiar. What do you need to take into consideration when creating such a list? You need to look at wins/losses, conference titles, national titles (as a bonus, if you will), recruiting, hurdles, longevity, and when two coaches are close in these areas, you look at their head to head record. It really isn't that hard to mess up. The entire body of work needs to be discussed, with some weight on recent achievement. So, here is my list, which I can promise you is more accurate and more agreeable than Dienhart's list:
1. Steve Spurrier - 6 SEC Titles, 1 National Title in 14 SEC seasons
Spurrier has more SEC titles than Urban Meyer, Mark Richt, and Phil Fulmer combined. The lone argument one can make is that Spurrier hasn't had an undefeated season. Guess what? Of the coaches in the SEC right now, only Phil Fulmer and Tommy Tuberville have one. Spurrier brought Florida to where it is now, and Urban Meyer wouldn't have his national title without the foundation Spurrier laid 10 years ago. Spurrier is Florida football, and all those who follow can thank him for the opportunity.
2. Nick Saban - 2 SEC Titles, 1 National Title in 5 SEC seasons
The Liar is a great coach. Imagine if he stayed put in Baton Rouge after the 2004 season - another SEC Title and quite possibly a 2006 National Title run. However, that's hypothetical. The Liar transformed a struggling program into a national power that someone like Les Miles can keep strong. Remember, The Liar took over a 3-8 LSU team in 2000 and won the SEC in 2001. His legend will continue to grow as he takes Alabama to the SEC West crown this season.
3. Urban Meyer - 1 SEC Title, 1 National Title in 2 SEC seasons
Meyer could be #3 or #4, depending on how you weight different parts of the equation. He has less SEC Titles than Richt, but that National Title is what pushes him ahead. Meyer hasn't lost in Gainesville since arriving on campus, but you have to remember a couple things: 1. These weren't his players, and 2. This wasn't his system. Ron Zook left an incredibly stocked cupboard for Meyer to take advantage of. I'm still uncertain if the full-blown spread option will work in the SEC, thus, we need to experience 100% Urbanball before we can move him up. Florida will finish 2nd or 3rd in the SEC East next season, so wait until 2008 before you move him up or down.
4. Mark Richt - 2 SEC Titles in 6 SEC seasons
Richt is another coach on the list who could I shuffle around. 3rd, 4th, or 5th is a reasonable range for him. The 2 SEC Titles put him right there with Saban and Fulmer, and he restored a stagnant Georgia program. Some Dawg fans have mentioned his game management as a weakness, especially in 2006. However, he had a QB shuffle, nay, a QB hoedown all year long, so again, 2008 will speak volumes on his abilities. Could Fulmer be here? Absolutely, except Richt has won 4 of 6 over CPF.
5. Phil Fulmer - 2 SEC Titles, 1 National Title in 14 SEC seasons
Fulmer is the most widely ranked coach. Dienhart had Fulmer at #8, which is ludicrous, and some UT fans have him as #1, which is also ridiculous. Fulmer is easily no worse than 5th in the SEC, and no better than 3rd. He has a combined record of 7-16 against the 4 coaches above him, and hasn't won anything tangible since 1998. A lot of writers put a whole hell of a lot of weight into the last 4-5 seasons, thus Fulmer slides. When you rank the coaches, though, the entire body of work in the SEC does matter, so you can't forget those titles. If Fulmer and Co. somehow manage to win the SEC in 2007, you can guarantee that the sportswriters catapult him into the top 3.
6. Tommy Tuberville - 1 SEC Title in 12 SEC seasons
Ears is consistently the most overrated coach in the conference. His lone SEC Title was in one of the worst SEC seasons in memory. His Tigers are 21-3 in the last 3 SEC seasons, but they were 23-17 with him from 1999-2003. Fans and writers alike act as if Ears has multiple SEC crowns, but in reality he has 1 lousy trophy to hang his hat on. 2007 won't help his cause, either.
Either Friday or Saturday, I will post the bottom six of this list, and also, I will bust the myth that Bobby Johnson is somehow a good coach.
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