It’s rankings time. Right before the season, everybody’s ranking teams, ranking players, and even ranking coaches. This is a tough business. Do we rank these coaches off their past success? The respective brightness of their futures? How they’ve done at the current job or all jobs? Where we think their teams will end up in 2021-22? In a word, yes. All of these factors are in play.

But undoubtedly, somebody out there will be raging that their favorite coach is the 11th-ranked coach in the SEC instead of 9th. In a spirit of offending everybody’s, here’s the power ranking of SEC coaches as we prepare for tip-off Tuesday night.

14. Jerry Stackhouse, Vanderbilt

Résumé: Great player, 3rd year at Vandy (20-37 record).

The question that surrounds Stackhouse has been the same since he came into the league. Can he coach? We’re still waiting, which isn’t a great sign in Year 3. That said, he hasn’t exactly had much to work with in Nashville. But the clock is ticking in these impatient times.

13. Tom Crean, Georgia

Résumé: 397 wins, including a Final Four at Marquette, 4th year at Georgia (41-49 record).

Crean’s career isn’t overwhelming, but it is solid. Despite his good work at Marquette (with Dwyane Wade) and Indiana, he is struggling at Georgia. Getting nowhere with Anthony Edwards wasn’t exactly a confidence builder. If the sole criteria was future outlook, he’d be below Stackhouse.

12. Buzz Williams, Texas A&M

Résumé: 277 career wins, made an Elite 8 at Marquette, 3rd year at A&M (24-24 record).

There’s a pretty big gap between Williams and Crean. Williams’s A&M teams have generally fought hard and competed valiantly. There’s no real sense that his job is in immediate jeopardy. That said, A&M is a tough place to get top talent and Williams isn’t exactly moving the culture needle right now.

11. Frank Martin, South Carolina

Resume: 270 wins, took South Carolina to a Final Four, 10th year at Carolina (153-133 record).

It’s really getting difficult here, because Martin always has that miraculous season in 2017, when he took the Gamecocks to their only Final Four. How is a guy 11th in the SEC when he’s been to a Final Four? Well, other than 2016 and 2017, Martin hasn’t won more than 18 games in a season. Carolina was 6-14 last year, and Martin isn’t exactly the sort of charismatic, players-first coach who is thriving in the modern culture. He could turn it around … or he could lead Carolina to make a coaching change.

10. Cuonzo Martin, Missouri

Résumé: 252 wins, took Tennessee to Sweet 16, 5th year at Missouri (66-56 record).

Martin is the kind of coach that schools are excited to hire and then end up excited to see move on a few years later. His success at Tennessee coincided with him moving along to Cal. After 3 meh seasons there, he moved to Mizzou. In 4 years in CoMo, he’s taken the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament twice but hasn’t won a game there. Missouri has one of the stronger hoops traditions in the SEC, and Cuonzo is kind of sitting on the hot seat right now.

9. Ben Howland, Mississippi State

Résumé: 515 wins, took UCLA to 3 Final Fours, including a national title game, 7th year at Mississippi State (116-82 record).

Howland was a steady veteran hand at an MSU program that had been marred by turmoil. He has made State competitive, but after a trio of 20-win seasons, the Bulldogs went 18-15 last year. Howland is still awaiting his first NCAA Tournament win in his current job. He’s 64 and could use a breakthrough season this year.

8. Mike White, Florida

Résumé: 224 wins, took Florida to Elite 8, 7th year at Florida (123-75 record).

White had a great second year in Gainesville, winning 27 games and reaching the Elite 8 in 2017. But since then? The yearly win totals have gone 21, 20, 19 and 15. Sense a pattern? Admittedly, Florida wasn’t a basketball power before Billy Donovan. But the Gators have their sights set higher than the NCAA bubble, and if White doesn’t have a comeback season, he could well be on the move.

7. Kermit Davis, Ole Miss

Résumé: 454 wins, made NCAA Round of 32 twice at Middle Tennessee, 4th year at Ole Miss (51-42 record).

Davis got the Rebels to the NCAA Tournament in his first season, but since then, they’ve gone 15-17 and 16-12. The Rebels don’t have one of the stronger hoops traditions, and since it’s only his 4th season, Davis isn’t on the hot seat yet. That said, he has to have some March success to move up this list.

6. Will Wade, LSU

Résumé: 173 wins, took LSU to Sweet 16 (kind of, he was suspended), 5th year at LSU (82-39 record), makes “strong a** offers.”

Wade is a genuinely good coach. But it is hard to ignore the massive NCAA black cloud hanging over him at LSU. Or maybe it’s easy — seems to work well for the NCAA. Wade’s teams have won 3 NCAA Tournament games in 3 appearances. If Wade can somehow emerge unscathed from the NCAA’s crosshairs, he’s a promising young coach. But it is a BIG “if.”

5. Rick Barnes, Tennessee

Résumé: 727 wins, took Texas to the Final Four, 7th year at Tennessee (123-73 record).

The top 5 coaches on this list could be ranked any number of ways. Barnes is a respected veteran coach who had UT as solid as they’ve ever been, winning 31 games and reaching the Sweet 16 in 2019. That said, he is coming off a couple of ugly years (17-14 and 18-9) and is 67. Barnes is solidly above-average. But he could use a good season to snap the downward trend. In the meanwhile, he’s probably most often thought of as an excellent coach whose teams tend to underachieve in the NCAA Tournament.

4. Bruce Pearl, Auburn

Résumé: 600 wins, took Auburn to Final Four, 8th year at Auburn (138-92 record).

Pearl has taken Tennessee and Auburn from the SEC graveyard to the longest NCAA runs in the history of either school. He’s a respected motivator and strategist. He’s also had some ugly NCAA moments in his past, and might be in a pattern of getting a team up to speed and then falling back. A year after taking UT to the Elite 8, he was run out of Knoxville. And after three straight great seasons at Auburn, the Tigers went 13-14 last year. The first sentence is the reason Pearl could be the league’s best coach. But given the skeletons in the NCAA closet and the struggles of last season, he’s sitting here.

3. Eric Musselman, Arkansas

Résumé: 155 wins (108 more in NBA), took Arkansas to Elite 8, 3rd year at Arkansas (45-19 record).

Muss was an excellent hire and has a very bright future in Fayetteville. He’s great at developing players, he has NBA experience that he can draw from, and he’s done an excellent job of getting Arkansas back to the top of the SEC. Why isn’t he higher? He has relatively limited collegiate head coaching experience, and hasn’t yet shown how he’ll respond to becoming a target for lower-ranked teams. Also, with a guy who is as well connected as Musselman is, you wonder about him being attractive for other open jobs.

2. John Calipari, Kentucky

Résumé: 779 (742?) wins, won NCAA title at Kentucky in 2012, has been to 6 (4?) Final Fours, 13th year at Kentucky (339-93 record).

A year ago, Cal was the unquestioned top dog on the list. But plenty has happened since. Kentucky went 9-16, and the Wildcats haven’t been to the Final Four since the undefeated 2015 team’s devastating semifinal loss to Wisconsin. And guys like Nate Oats and Eric Musselman have brought genuine innovation and offensive energy into the SEC. Like his team, on a given day, Calipari might be the best. But like his team, there’s some proving to do after the disaster that was last year. And there’s all that old NCAA business as well.

1. Nate Oats, Alabama

Résumé: 138 wins, took Alabama to Sweet 16, 3rd year at Alabama (42-22 record).

A year ago, if you had said Oats would overtake Calipari, you might have been drug tested. That said, not only did his Alabama team win the league last year, but Oats’ Sprawlball 3s-and-layups style looks like the future of SEC basketball. Yes, he’s young, yes, he’s never gone past the Sweet 16. But the trend is that Oats is a future star and after last season, he’ll start this year on top.