Ranking the SEC’s coaching staffs for 2013


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The SEC is in search of its eighth straight BCS National Championship in 2013. While they have some dominant and dynamic players, they also have some nasty coaching staffs, the best the country has to offer.

College football is much different than the NFL. College demands a top coaching staff that can make in-game decisions and recruit lights out, while the NFL is all about the dynamic quarterback.

Let’s get it…

1. Alabama

Head coach: Nick Saban
Coordinators: OC Doug Nussmeier, DC Kirby Smart
Buzz: Three national championships in the past four seasons speak for themselves. Does it speak to the chasm between the No. 1 and No. 2 coaching staffs? You bet it does. Defensive coordinator Kirby Smart has guided the Tide to only allow 11.75 points per game in five years. Doug Nussmeier’s 2012 offense averaged the most points in the Saban era, with 38.71 per game. And we haven’t even started talking about veterans Bobby Williams, Chris Rumph, Mario Cristobal or Burton Burns yet. This staff is loaded, much like the roster.

2. South Carolina

Head coach: Steve Spurrier
Coordinators: OC Steve Spurrier, DC Lorenzo Ward
Buzz: Several worried that when Ellis Johnson left Carolina the defense would take a step back. But in fact, it didn’t skip a beat with Lorenzo Ward. Steve Spurrier guides the offense and does the main play calling, because he’s incredible and enjoys running it up on Georgia, among other teams. The Gamecocks’ nitty-gritty, hit-you-in-the-mouth offense and defense are not something we are not used to seeing from Spurrier, nor do we expect it. Deke Adams becomes the Gamecocks’ only new coach in 2013, taking over the defensive line. QB coach GA Mangus is an up-and-coming offensive mind.

3. LSU

Head coach: Les Miles
Coordinators: OC Cam Cameron, DC John Chavis
Buzz: Whether you think Les Miles is an underachiever or not, his coaching staff is stacked. Cam Cameron takes over the offense and brings QB and NFL experience with him, while John Chavis continues to excel as the defensive coordinator. Chavis’ defense has allowed 15.74 points per game since 2009. I also love running backs coach Frank Wilson as a coach and a recruiter, and defensive backs coach Corey Raymond is a great teacher, too.

4. Georgia

Head coach: Mark Richt
Coordinators: OC Mike Bobo, DC Todd Grantham
Buzz: Georgia’s offense under Mike Bobo is always criticized, but he shut mouths in 2012, as the offense averaged 37.79 points per game. Todd Grantham gets a lot of ink for being a great coordinator, but his defenses have virtually performed the same as Willie Martinez’s. Grantham’s defenses have given up 20.73 points per game, while Martinez’s gave up 20.92 per game. Maybe new defensive line coach Chris Wilson will get the defensive front to maximize its capability, something that was criticized under Rodney Garner.

5. Texas A&M

Head coach: Kevin Sumlin
Coordinators: Co-OC Jake Spavital, Co-OC Clarence McKinney, DC Mark Snyder
Buzz: Kevin Sumlin lost the hottest assistant coach in the country in Kliff Kingsbury, and he turned right around and hired the next Kliff Kinsbury, Jake Spavital. Everyone thought TAMU’s defense would be terrible in 2012, but Mark Snyder made everyone believers. If you’re still not convinced of Clarence McKinney after he called the Cotton Bowl plays, you need to check your pulse. I love Sumlin, but I love his staff more. The Aggies have four new coaches for 2013.

6. Florida

Head coach: Will Muschamp
Coordinators: OC Brent Pease, DC DJ Durkin
Buzz: You can say Florida wasn’t that great in 2012 and wonder how they won 11 games, but you’re wasting your time. This staff is very strong, even with the loss of Dan Quinn to the NFL. Brent Pease’s offense isn’t sexy, but he lines up with so many formations it makes coaches’ heads swim. DJ Durkin replaces Quinn, and he’s been groomed for this position, while leading arguably the top special teams unit in the country. The addition of WR coach Joker Phillips and DL coach Brad Lawing were two of the best offseason coaching hires for any staff.

7. Vanderbilt

Head coach: James Franklin
Coordinators: OC John Donovan, DC Bob Shoop
Buzz: Vanderbilt’s staff is very underrated. I’m a James Franklin believer, and he and his staff have transformed the Commodores in just two seasons. John Donovan has had success with the offense, but defensive coordinator Bob Shoop may be one of the most underrated coaches in the country. The Dores’ defense finished fifth in the league in total defense in 2012. And offensive line coach Herb Hand is a master chef, just another reason to like this staff. This is the only SEC staff that remained 100 percent intact for 2013.

8. Arkansas

Head coach: Bret Bielema
Coordinators: OC Jim Chaney, DC Chris Ash
Buzz: Granted, Arkansas’ staff has yet to coach or win an SEC game together, but on paper, this staff is talented and experienced. Chris Ash had good defenses at Wisconsin, and Randy Shannon coaches the linebackers. Former Tennessee offensive coordinator Jim Chaney takes over the offense, and it’ll be an interesting gel between Bielema, who’s very pro-style minded, and Chaney, who has a very throw-it-around-the-yard style. But the best position coach may be offensive line coach Sam Pittman, who led the Vols to have the fewest sacks in the SEC last season.

9. Ole Miss

Head coach: Hugh Freeze
Coordinators: Co-OC Dan Werner, Co-OC Matt Luke, DC Dave Wommack
Buzz: Hats off to Hugh Freeze and his staff. They can coach, and they can recruit. The 2-10 to 7-6 turnaround was fun to watch, and you can tell the players have really bought into the staff and believe in them. The only new staffer Freeze hired was cornerbacks coach Jason Jones for Wesley McGriff, who left for the New Orleans Saints. The offensive duties split between Dan Werner and Matt Luke, while Dave Wommack heads up the defense. We’ll see what Year 2 brings.

10. Auburn

Head coach: Gus Malzahn
Coordinators: OC Rhett Lashlee, DC Ellis Johnson
Buzz: I love the makeup of this coaching staff. Gus Malzahn tabbed one of his protégé’s Rhett Lashlee from Arkansas State, and seasoned veteran Ellis Johnson takes over the defense. Dameyune Craig, Melvin Smith, Charlie Harbison and Rodney Garner were massive hires for Malzahn, and we’ve already seen the dividends paid through recruiting. Now, let’s see how good they can be on the field.

11. Missouri

Head coach: Gary Pinkel
Coordinators: OC Josh Henson, DC Dave Steckel
Buzz: Gary Pinkel tabbed co-O-line coach Josh Henson to take over for David Yost, and Dave Steckel continues coordinating an underrated defense. Pinkel has won 90 games at Missouri, and we’ll see what kind of adjustments he and his staff make in 2013. Defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski and running backs coach Brian Jones have been with Pinkel since he started in 2001.

12. Mississippi State

Head coach: Dan Mullen
Coordinators: OC Les Koenning, DC Geoff Collins
Buzz: Dan Mullen has six staffers who have been with him since 2009, namely offensive coordinator Les Koenning. Koenning’s offense was boring and average down the 2012 stretch and needs a revival, while Geoff Collins takes over the defense in his first season as the official coordinator. Former Florida and LSU receiver coach Billy Gonzalez joins the staff for 2013, replacing Tim Brewster.

13. Tennessee

Head coach: Butch Jones
Coordinators: OC Mike Bajakian, DC John Jancek
Buzz: Butch Jones brings a winning resume to Knoxville. Mike Bajakian takes over an offense that lost star talent but has a strong O-line. The defense will get better just by John Jancek putting them in the correct formation, as he switches the 3-4 for a 4-3 scheme. Outside of defensive backs coach Willie Martinez, who used to be the defensive coordinator for Georgia, you may not recognize many other names.

14. Kentucky

Head coach: Mark Stoops
Coordinators: OC Neal Brown, DC DJ Eliot
Buzz: Stoops’ signature hire was offensive coordinator Neal Brown. Brown’s spread-‘em-out and throw-it-around Air Raid is difficult to prepare for, and it will give teams trouble this season. Stoops brought DJ Eliot with him from FSU to coach his defense as a first-year coordinator. The staff isn’t proven, but they’ve proven they can recruit and get talent in a short amount of time.

Photo Credit: Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports



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  • I, the Great Stache, would be happy to fill any positions on any coaching staff. This would be a great improvement for any opening. Free your staff of the dead weight and hire a true winner. I’m looking at you Koenning! Your days are numbered.When Ellis Johnson croaks this season I will be there Auburn to pick up the pieces! The Phoenix will arise from the ashes of this broken Auburn team, please anybody give me a job! I will be the gear coordinator just give me another chance. PLEASE!!! Hugh, Hugh I could cover those teeth. Muschampyour rage would be much more intense with me on your face! Gimme a shot guys!

  • This is an interesting question but complicated because there are so many coaches in each program,and they interact. The readiness of recruits is so variable and really largely unknown. Fans know so little about most of the programs in the SEC including their own. It’s a unique opportunity when an assistant leaves and is replaced to see if a clear difference can result. David Yost at Missouri a creative attack coach. But fans of questionable football IQ thought they could predict his schemes. Not a shock however that none of these genius fans could actually say what he was going to do the play started. Mute question however because Yost did not want to call the plays, so he took a job at a program where he could coach offense without calling plays. So will Missouri’s change of job assignments and hiring a new receiver’s coach make a clear difference, or will we just see a healthy offensive line and not be able to judge the changes

  • Wolfman, Brent Venables had no problem reading David Yost mind. sometimes it was so ridiculous you would have thought he had a spy in the huddle. I hope our defense is underrated but I’m not sure. but I still cannot understand how we have one losing season in 8 While Tennessee and Vanderbilt have more losing seasons than winning seasons in the last 8 years and are still picked ahead of us. how about this, if they are right then yes we need a new coach. But if they are wrong how about those magazines get new writers?

    • Thanks ZCat, good comment, but are you sure it was reading or just that ridiculous hand off out in front where everyone could see it, laughs. Right on with the continuing kick Missouri rankings on everything from every SEC writer, but at Tennessee, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, aTm, Florida (especially their television crew), Georgia, Arkansas (check the last bowl game), South Carolina (check the last bowl game), the readers of these stories know better, and this year Missouri will reconcile some writers bs to a few more SEC programs. So why do they do write this stuff… because lists sell and are easy to write… and somebody has to be on the bottom of the list. That’s It. We both know there are hundreds of better stories out there so let’s just continue to write a few better lines whenever we have time. Once again thanks for your great comments.

  • You won’t have Florida’s Coaches rated so low after this year. Coach Boom has assembled a very good staff and added even better position Coaches this offseason. Joker Phillips will make a world of difference with UF’s WR corp and Brad Lawiing will have UF leading the nation in sacks and rushing yardage. This is one of the best, if not the best, staffs I have seen at UF.

    • I hope you are right because that offense was something gentlemen outside the Florida fan base just politely avoid talking about. We can’t have Florida qualifying for a big bowl and then have Florida fans too bored with the no-offense to show up. Grins here, but seriously, all the best wishes from a Missouri fan. Come up to Missouri with 60 points this year, it will be a blast to see if we can get 70. Long live attacking football.

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