How do the SEC head coaches rank entering 2014?

NCAA Football: Mississippi State at Texas A&M

Sporting News’ senior writer Matt Hayes recently ranked the SEC head coaches entering 2014. Along with the different conferences, Hayes also laid out how he thought the coaches stacked up to those around the country.

RELATED: What every SEC coach thought about the scheduling format

Five SEC head coaches are among the country’s 20 best. Nick Saban and Steve Spurrier led the entire country at No. 1 and No. 2. Les Miles came in at No. 8, the only other coach in the top 10, and Gus Malzahn (13) and Mark Richt (14) rounded out the top 20.

We’ll get into our own coaching rankings closer to the start of the season, but here is the list Hayes derived. You can see the SEC coaches’ rankings here and the country’s top 128 coaches here.

1. Nick Saban, Alabama
2. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina
3. Les Miles, LSU
4. Gus Malzahn, Auburn
5. Mark Richt, Georgia
6. Bret Bielema, Arkansas
7. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
8. Gary Pinkel, Missouri
9. Butch Jones, Tennessee
10. Will Muschamp, Florida
11. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss
12. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
13. Mark Stoops, Kentucky
14. Derek Mason, Vanderbilt

Were you surprised to see Bret Bielema ranked so high? Should Gus Malzahn be ranked ahead of Les Miles and Mark Richt?

Photo Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports



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  • Shouldn’t to be ranked #6 on this list you should have won at least 1 game in the conference? You know since this is a list about sec coaches and not big 10 coaches.

  • Why is Butch Jones ranked so high? I would have Hugh Freeze and Dan Mullen ranked ahead of him.

  • Really don’t understand Bielama. He’s been getting a lot of love suddenly from the media. I know he interviews well going back to his Wiscy days but he’s ranked way too high.

  • How the hell is Butch Jones ranked ahead of Will Muschamp? That is just 100% PURE LAUGHABLE. Take into account that Muschamp is one of the best defensive minds in the game and has made his career in the SEC, where the best competition is. Also he is 1-0 against Jones and has taken Florida to a BCS game and was a play away from a possible shot at a national title. Jones won 10 games at Cincy and won the Liberty Bowl. Come on with garbage list. I swear….who writes this up? This list is not right at all, Malzahn ahead of Richt based on last year only….Richt has been a head coach in the SEC a long time and has SEC titles too. Malzahn doesn’t have to consistent SEC success to be ahead of Richt yet.

    • I’ll agree with you on the Richt deal. He’s got way more years and has been consistent. And I don’t see malzahn falling off, but he still has to continue to prove himself. However, I wouldn’t call it laughable that Butch Jones is ahead of Muschamp. Muschamp had a great 2012 year. But he still hasn’t proved himself. And although Butch hasn’t been in the SEC long, he was pretty great at cinch. And looks to have UT on the rise. So far, I’d say Muschamp is a better coordinator than he is a head coach

  • Malzhan ahead of Richt? NOT !! Freeze is a better coach X & O’s and “mouth filter” than Bielema. Muschamp has fielded an SEC team that won 11 games. Think Pinkel got a little lucky with injuries to Georgia and lost at home to the next best team in the East. Don’t know if I agree with this list at all.

    • I think a flaw in this ranking would be the writer is taking into account the historical significance of Bret Bielema’s Big Ten record, while at the same time taking a sample size of two seasons (AU and Ark St.) from Gus Malzahn. But there’s not a hotter coach in the country than Malzahn.

      • I don’t think taking into account a coaches coaching history is a flaw. I think it’s part of the ranking of a coach no matter the current conference. Malzahn moved up 42 places after just one year at Auburn (after being at Arkansas State). Bielema dropped 9 places after just one year at Arkansas (after being at Wisconsin). If too much is put into one coaching year, successful or unsuccessful, coaches would go up and down by 42 places every single year, and then it would be a flawed ranking.

        • No. I certainly don’t either. But what I’m saying is history should be taken into account. Therefore, if it is, then Malzahn probably wouldn’t be ranked ahead of Richt or Miles. I’m not saying coaching history is a flaw; I was just commenting on the perceived flaw in his personal rankings. Coaching history should absolutely be taken into account.

      • Hot does not translate to great or good for that matter. 1 year at Arky St and 1 in the SEC is not an established record and certainly not to be ranked above proven SEC coaches.

  • This list is hot garbage. Coach Freeze should be #1 by a mile. I mean, he was in a damn movie! I kid……just wanted some of you realize how stupid you sound.

  • Pinkel behind Bielema, and Sumlin? Mizzou dominates A&M, and Arkansas has not done much in recent years.

    • Pinkel is 4-1 against A&M since ’07. 1-1 against Sumlin (both with Manziel). And given Pinkel’s proven track record – and division championship – he’s automatically above Beliema and Sumlin in my very biased opinion :) One could also argue Sumlin is a better recruiter and I will give them that.

      • right, but not by that logic as much as this: Who has better star rated recruits than Missouri? GA and aTm (1-1 with Mizzou, makes Pinkel-staff better). Miles vs. Pinkel? Didn’t GA beat LSU. Sumlin has more stars. Bielema vs. Pinkel? then which coach adjusted to the SEC faster-better.

        • Stars? Who cares about ‘star systems?” Pinkel does what he does. (and over the last decade has done pretty well with that M.O.)
          Just sayin’ recruiting class caliber shouldn’t be ‘what makes a coach great’ it’s the results that make the difference. And outside of a bad 2012, Pinkel’s been pretty damn consistent over the last decade as far as winning goes.

        • HlywdMIZZOU, read what you just wrote. If you compare two coaches, who play an identical schedule, both coaches have the same talent, Coach A has a better record than Coach B. All other things being equal Coach A is better. If you compare Coach A to Coach B and they have equal record but Coach B has less talent than Coach A, all other things being equal then Coach B is the better coach. Star rating of recruits is one way of estimating talent. Not always valid but you come up with a better way of estimating raw material each coach is working with.

  • It’s a preseason poll, just like what the teams get. They’re not looking at 2013 season. So there are going to be coaches you don’t agree with. Bielema has done a hell of a job in the offseason recruiting and rebuilding. I’m not surprised he #6.

  • Even though I can’t say I like bielema, I can’t say I really disagree with his rank. He was a contender for the B1G every year he was there and he inherited a train wreck at Arkansas. I’m not saying it’ll all work out for him there, but he hasn’t had enough time to prove anything yet

  • The list should read
    1. Saban
    2. Spurrier
    3. Miles
    4. By a country mile EVERYONE else because no of them have won anything that matters. They all have the same number of titles as Ray Golf

    • OK, by that mindset carve out some room for Gene Chizik. And Larry Coker. (see post below). I think you have to think just a little beyond JUST nat titles.

      I mean, think about it in these terms …. is Tee Martin a better QB at your school than Peyton? I mean, Tee is a great guy and was a solid QB, but come on! But it’s 1-0 by your criteria.

      Are Brad Johnson and Trent Dilfer better NFL QBs than Jim Kelly ???

  • I think in a few years Hugh Freeze is going to be one of the best coaches in the country. He has took an Ole Miss team that had hit rock bottom and in two years he has won 15 games and is one of the best recruiters in the nation. He is still young and is still learning, but Freeze is definitely a coach on the rise.

  • How is nobody blowing up Sumlin??? Subtract Manziel and Evans and Sumlin is nothing. That team will be awful for the next 5+ years.

    • Not if you believe that recruiting has anything to do with it, Taylor. Texas A&M has OWNED Texas recruiting for 3 to 4 years now. And the 2015 class is even scarier. It caused changes at Longhorn U. Recruiting is part of coaching. Kyle Allen, the QB that is already on campus, is money. I’ll say this …. if Texas A&M isn’t winning 9/10 games a year or better from here on out, then I’m willing to blame Sumlin. But the last two years were impressive … and keep in how mind how brutal the SEC West gauntlet is. If he continues to recruit like this and win 9 or 10 a year in the SEC West, he most definitely deserves the respect he’s getting. And so far, he’s done exactly that.

    • Hmmm…I’m not a Sumlin fan because I feel like he allows his stars to run him over…BUT I disagree that JFF was all TAMU had. Don’t forget Johnny was a nobody before Sumlin. He’s always had successful QB play in his system. He arrived at Houston and turned a 2 star recruit into the NCAA all time passing leader for Christ’s sake.

  • And give me a break on Freeze. Ole Miss has had great draft classes for years… they still suck every year! And I’ll state the obvious with everyone else… Bielema?!?! Please.

  • Ranked according to what criteria?? Somebody’s subjective feelings? This is a joke. Name your basis for the rankings. It has to be driven by data, not anything else.

    • What data, Walker? Most rankings are EXACTLY what you just said …. subjective. Opinions. Whatever. If you want data, put them in order by their winning percentages, or national championships won. Oh wait a minute … Gene Chizik had a national title. Larry Coker won a nat. title at Miami….is he better than Gary Pinkel (nope!). Does that make him better than Gus Malzahn? The objective data says he is. But wait a minute…..Malzahn is probably the biggest coaching reason Chizik won a title……hmmmm, I’ll go with a subjective stab at it any day.

  • How in the hell is Sumlin ahead of Pinkel? Bielema really, too

  • How is Mark Richt even in the top 10?? No one has done less with more.

  • Bret Bielema above Butch Jones? Let’s stop kidding ourselves. Butch has us heading in the right direction. I don’t know if anyone can say the same for Bielema.

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