Athlon Sports ranks the SEC's 14 head coaches entering 2016
Who’s the best coach in the SEC? And what about the best in all of college football? Athlon Sports believes the answer to both of those questions is Alabama coach Nick Saban.
The publication ranked all 128 college head coaches, and Saban comes in on top. The other 13 SEC coaches, listed below, check in between Nos. 17-85.
- Nick Saban, Alabama (No. 1 overall)
- Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss (No. 17)
- Bret Bielema, Arkansas (No. 18)
- Dan Mullen, Mississippi State (No. 20)
- Butch Jones, Tennessee (No. 23)
- Les Miles, LSU (No. 25)
- Gus Malzahn, Auburn (No. 29)
- Jim McElwain, Florida (No. 30)
- Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M (No. 37)
- Kirby Smart, Georgia (No. 54)
- Will Muschamp, South Carolina (No. 79)
- Mark Stoops, Kentucky (No. 83)
- Derek Mason, Vanderbilt (No. 84)
- Barry Odom, Missouri (No. 85)
The magazine seemed to anticipate eyebrows would be raised by some of the rankings, such as a national championship coach coming in No. 6 in the SEC, and offered this to explain the methodology behind the rankings:
This is not simply a list of coaches ranked by accomplishment or wins. While those aspects are important, it doesn’t provide a complete picture of how successful coaches are. … A couple of other factors to consider when ranking coaches: How well are the assistants paid? A staff with two of the nation’s top coordinators could be a sign the head coach is better as a CEO and may not be as strong in terms of developing gameplans. How is the coach in the X’s and O’s? Can the coach recruit? Are the program’s facilities on par with the rest of the conference? Much like assistants, a program needs good facilities to win big. If a team is winning at a high level with poor facilities and a small budget, it reflects positively on the head coach. Is the coach successful at only one stop? Or has that coach built a solid resume from different jobs?
Here’s why Saban is ranked as college football’s top coach:
With three national championships over the last five years, the rest of college football is chasing Alabama and Nick Saban. Under Saban’s direction, the Crimson Tide have won 105 games since 2007 and are the only team to make the College Football Playoff in back-to-back seasons. Alabama has only lost more than one game in SEC play once since 2008 and has not finished outside of the Associated Press top 10 since 2007. There’s no question the bar is set high at Alabama and maintaining this level of success isn’t easy for any program. However, Saban is the unquestioned No. 1 coach in the nation and continues to reel in elite talent every year.
How would you rank the SEC coaches? Who’s underrated? Who’s overrated?