Debates Down South: Besides Nick Saban, who's the SEC's best coach of the 21st Century?
If we’re asking who’s the SEC’s best coach in the 21st Century, this debate is a whopping 1 sentence.
It’s Nick Saban, and it’s not close.
Today, the goal is not to outline why Saban is the SEC’s best coach in the 21st Century. We’ve got a lot of time to spare amidst these current COVID-19 circumstances, but I won’t waste your time with that argument.
Instead, I figured we could dig into one that’s much more intriguing — who’s No. 2 on that list?
We have 20 years of data to make that distinction. And to be clear, we’re only talking about the 21st Century and what someone did as a head coach in the SEC. For this argument, the 20th Century stuff is irrelevant, as is the non-SEC head coaching stints and the coordinator stuff. That’s the best way to keep this argument fair.
Let’s get to it, shall we?
Why was/is this a debate?
Because I said so.
Just kidding. Sort of.
It’s a debate because there are a variety of different ways in which you can go with this. How much do you reward a coach’s peak performance vs. longevity? What about what they inherited? Did the program experience its golden years or was it rather comparable to other coaches?
Before we answer those questions, I should lay out the ground rules for this debate. There are 2 qualifiers a coach must have both of in order to earn a spot in this discussion. They are:
- 5 years as an SEC head coach in the 21st Century
- 1 SEC title
Sorry, Florida and Georgia fans. That eliminates Dan Mullen and Kirby Smart. Both could very well join this discussion after this season (Smart will because this is Year 5 for him at Georgia). To be fair, it also eliminates a national championship-winner like Gene Chizik.
But in my opinion, you have to have those parameters. Five of 20 seasons is only 25% of the timeframe we’re discussing. And as I argued with the G.O.A.T. of SEC quarterbacks last week, how can you be considered the best of the SEC if you never won the SEC? That applies to this discussion, as well.
Who does that leave us with, you ask? These 7 coaches all made the cut (only 21st Century seasons listed):
- Urban Meyer— Florida (2005-10)
- Steve Spurrier — Florida (2000-01), South Carolina (2005-15)
- Les Miles — LSU (2005-16)
- Mark Richt — Georgia (2001-15)
- Tommy Tuberville — Auburn (2000-08)
- Gus Malzahn — Auburn (2013-present)
- Ed Orgeron — Ole Miss (2005-07), LSU (2017-present)
Again, this is just 21st Century stuff. I can’t reference Steve Spurrier winning a national title in 1996. As challenging as it is to eliminate that from our minds, it’s required for this particular topic.
It’s interesting that the 5 non-active SEC coaches of that group all left on not-so-great terms. Miles and Richt were fired, Tuberville “resigned” and Meyer and Spurrier both stepped down after seemingly running out of gas.
As they say, you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.
What people said at the time
I’m calling an audible today. Instead of looking up a bunch of articles about these coaches at various times in their careers, I tried to predict what everyone would say works in their favor, and what everyone would say works against them. It’s my way of trying to maintain the neutrality of this argument, and perhaps you’ll even learn a thing or 2 like I did. Sound good?
The case for him — There’s 1 obvious thing that stands above everyone else on this list. Nobody else won 2 rings. He was the closest thing to Saban before Saban in the 21st Century. That level of dominance from 2006-09 was as good of a 4-year run as we’ve seen in the SEC from any non-Alabama program.
There was also the fact that besides his 65-15 overall mark and 36-12 SEC record, Meyer went a ridiculous 27-3 against the SEC East (and 5-1 vs. Georgia) during those 6 seasons in Gainesville. Despite the fact that he only had those 6 seasons, he’s tied for the lead on this list with 2 SEC titles.
Meyer was an offensive-minded head coach who recruited and developed a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback. Orgeron was the only other SEC coach on this list who recruited and coached a Heisman winner during this span. You could make a pretty clear argument that Meyer elevated the program a significant degree after Ron Zook. For 3-4 years, Meyer was undoubtedly the SEC’s best coach, and perhaps he was even the country’s best coach.
The case against him — I’m not going to dig into the player arrest numbers and play the Aaron Hernandez card, though I know some will. I’ll instead focus on the fact that he only had those 6 years in the SEC before bowing out. There’s a case that Meyer was like a sprinter who didn’t know how to pace himself for a long-distance run.
There’s also the fact that Meyer only developed 1 quarterback — Chris Leak was already a multi-year starter when he took over — and once that all-time great signal-caller left, Meyer couldn’t cut it. He recruited extremely well, but he by no means left the program as some stockpiled juggernaut like Saban left LSU for Les Miles (Florida was a borderline Top 25 team in Year 1 of the post-Meyer era while LSU started at No. 5 in Year 1 of the post-Saban era).
Meyer’s downfall was not being able to keep up with Saban. Others on this list like Miles and Malzahn had more success against Saban. The fact that Meyer beat Saban once he got some talent at Ohio State helped in the court of public opinion, but in terms of what made him a great SEC coach, that will always be the “yeah, but.”
On the other hand, Meyer still apparently thinks of himself as a Gator:
— Transfer Portal (@NCAAPortal) August 24, 2019
The case for him — There’s nobody on this list who elevated a historical doormat like Spurrier. It’s hard to compare his overall numbers to others on this list because Spurrier inherited a South Carolina program that had never finished in the top 10 of the Associated Press Top 25. Technically, the only reason he qualified for this discussion was because he won the 2000 SEC Championship at Florida.
Even if you just wanted to focus on those 2 seasons in the 21st century at Florida, it’s still pretty darn good:
- 2 top-10 finishes
- SEC Championship
Speaking of that, nobody else on this list took 2 programs to SEC Championship games. That’s an incredible feat.
Spurrier led South Carolina to its best 4-year run in program history. Between beating No. 1 Alabama in that classic showdown in 2010 — that was Saban’s last loss to a non-top 15 team — and the 3 consecutive seasons of top-9 finishes from 2011-13, what Spurrier did in Columbia was everything that Gamecock fans could’ve hoped for when he returned to the SEC in 2005.
Now that we’ve had 4 seasons worth of reminders of how difficult it is to be nationally relevant at South Carolina, consider this 4-year run:
- 3 consecutive 11-win seasons
- 3 consecutive top-10 seasons (after 0 in program history)
- 42-11 overall
- 23-9 vs. SEC
In an 10.5-year stretch, he averaged 8.2 wins at South Carolina. He went 5-6 against Georgia during that stretch, which is noteworthy if you consider where each program was at when Spurrier took over in 2005. The HBC recruited elite talent like Jadeveon Clowney and Marcus Lattimore, which was what allowed the program to take the next step that fans had been desperate for. There’s no doubt that Spurrier is the best coach in program history.
The case against him — It’s how he left.
He admittedly ran out of juice and quit on the program. Did he leave South Carolina much better than he found it? That’s debatable if you focus on the rebuilding job that Will Muschamp had in 2016. Had Spurrier left after the 2014 season, we’d perhaps be talking about him in a much different sense. But there are South Carolina fans who still have a bittersweet feeling on all things HBC.
There’s also the fact that as great of an offensive mind as he was, he never coached a top 25 offense at South Carolina. Granted, he recruited extremely well on the defensive side of the ball, which played a key part in the Gamecocks’ aforementioned 4-year glory period. Still, even a team like Mizzou had a top 25 offense in 2018. Spurrier had a decade-plus to do that, and yet, he never developed an all-SEC quarterback or an NFL draft pick at the position.
Spurrier did admirable things at South Carolina. There’s no doubt about that. But he wasn’t without flaws.
The case for him — If you last a decade at an SEC program, that’s a major accomplishment. Miles, Richt, Spurrier and Tuberville all logged at least 10 seasons with 1 program. But Miles’ case is more than just longevity. He won as many SEC titles (2) as anyone on this list and he’s 1 of 3 coaches of this group with a ring. Seven top-15 seasons is no joke, either.
You could also make the case that the 2011 was the SEC’s best team to not win a title. Sorry, 2004 Auburn. That LSU team gets overlooked because of the national championship loss to Alabama, but before that, the Tigers went 8-0 vs. ranked teams with 7 of those wins coming by at least 13 points (the lone 1-score game was 9-6 vs. Alabama).
There’s another thing that needs to be mentioned. This is the part in the story where you say, “hey, I learned something!”
Miles had the best winning percentage against ranked teams of any coach on this list. That’s right. Miles’ 42-23 mark (.647) is the best of any SEC coach we’re talking about for this argument. That’s impressive. That’s even more impressive considering that Miles was the guy who replaced “the guy.” And while Saban was at Alabama, Miles beat him 3 times. That’s tied for the most among active coaches.
So why do we tend to forget those things?
The case against him — It’s how he faded after that 2011 season.
In those 5 seasons after 2011 (really it was 4.5), Miles lost to Alabama every time. In his final 3 seasons, he missed a New Year’s 6 Bowl.
His style was clearly outdated. It didn’t matter that he hired Cam Cameron, and for a brief period in 2013, it looked like LSU was about to modernize its offense. As guys like Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry went on to have NFL success, it became fair to wonder how much they were held back with Miles at LSU.
The Mad Hatter inherited as much talent as anyone on this list, too. It probably didn’t help that both the coach before him and the coach after him won national titles. LSU, in Year 3 with Orgeron, reached a peak that Miles’ teams never quite did. To be fair, no team in college football history reached the level that 2019 LSU was at.
And there’s 1 other thing that probably needs mentioning. How many times did we ever think that Miles was the SEC’s best coach? Maybe in 2007? Then Meyer won his second title, and after that, Saban became Saban. If you’re going to be considered the No. 2 SEC coach of the 21st Century, one would think you had to be considered No. 1 for more than a year.
The case for him — If longevity is your thing, you’ve gotta be a big Richt fan. Lasting 15 years at a high-pressure program isn’t easy. Richt handled that heat extremely well, even if it wasn’t always at the level that Georgia fans hoped for. Richt also has as many SEC titles (2) as anyone on this list. Believe it or not, he’s 2nd among this group in SEC winning percentage (.692).
That’ll surprise people who think all Richt did was dominate the cumulative categories. That’s not true. He’s also 3rd among this 7 in overall winning percentage (.740). It’s easy to forget that in Year 2, Richt won Georgia’s first conference title in 20 years.
The cumulative numbers are still pretty good. Like, he developed 4 All-SEC quarterbacks. Richt racked up 9 seasons of double-digit wins and 7 seasons with top-10 finishes. He’s got the best winning percentage (.740) of any Georgia coach with 5-plus years or experience.
Perhaps just as important, he gave us one of the best rivalry moments in college football history:
Mark Richt allows the entire UGA team to come onto the field & celebrate after the TD which leads to a penalty. pic.twitter.com/GI4UnHxfFc
— Kyle 👨🏽🚀 (@yrn1kyle) December 2, 2015
Richt’s time as “best SEC coach” was probably limited to after the 2002 season (until Saban won his ring) and then perhaps again from the end of the 2004 season through 2005 (until Meyer won his ring). That’s a longer stretch than many have.
Besides, how many coaches have been better faces of a program than Richt?
The case against him — He couldn’t win the big one.
Whether that was the 2012 SEC Championship or 2005 against Florida, Richt was always coming up just short of getting Georgia to the promised land. At a program like that with a national championship drought, that obviously became the all-too-frustrating reality for Richt.
It wasn’t just that he didn’t win a national title. He didn’t win an SEC title in his last 10 years in Athens, which not coincidentally was during the SEC’s rise into the premier conference. During that stretch from 2006-15, Richt:
- Only improved UGA’s preseason ranking 3 times
- Finished unranked 4 times (all in final 7 seasons)
- Only had 1 BCS/New Year’s 6 Bowl appearance
Georgia became the offseason champs. That’s a tough reputation to survive for a head coach. It probably didn’t help the pro-Richt crowd when Smart played for a national championship in Year 2, which Georgia hadn’t done since 1982. In Richt’s final 3 seasons in Athens, he lost games to Vanderbilt, Mizzou, South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia Tech, all of which were deflating in their own unique way.
Richt was a great coach who could never escape the national championship cloud. It’d be fascinating to discuss his résumé if he could’ve gotten that ring in 2012 because there was zero doubt that the Dawgs would’ve rolled Notre Dame.
But that’s a discussion for another time.
The case for him — Tuberville took over a 3-win program and in Year 6, he produced the unbeaten season of 2004. No coach on this list had a better “inherited-to-peak” improvement than Tuberville’s +10 (more on that later). That 2004 team was one of the SEC’s best of the 21st Century even though it never got a chance to play for a national title.
But Tuberville wasn’t just the 2004 season. He led Auburn to top-15 seasons in 5 of his last 7 years on The Plains. His only losing record in conference play during the 21st century was his final year at Auburn in 2008. Among the coaches on this list, only Meyer and Miles had a better winning percentage against ranked foes than Tuberville (.525). Surprising? A bit.
The ace in the hole for Tuberville? He went 7-2 against Alabama, including a 6-game streak (in the 21st Century). As he likes to say, he’s the reason that Alabama got desperate enough to hire Saban (pretty debatable but I’m here for it). Usually if you show up to take over a 3-win program and proceed to crank out top-15 seasons, beat your rivals consistently and occasionally compete for a national title, you’re sitting pretty.
There was a little more to it with Tuberville, though.
The against him — JetGate.
OK, that’s mean. But I’d argue that an athletic department getting busted for interviewing coaches while a standing coach still has a job isn’t a great look. That seemed like it happened with Tuberville more than anyone on this list. Take that for what it is.
You can poke holes in his résumé. The biggest thing working in Tuberville’s favor was the record vs. Alabama. But as any Alabama fan will tell you, that was at a time when the program was nowhere near the level it was at once Saban arrived. From 2000-07, Alabama finished unranked in 6 of those 8 seasons.
Besides that, it’s hard to say that Tuberville was significantly better than those who came after him when Chizik won a national title in Year 2 of the post-Tuberville era and Malzahn got Auburn to a title game. Tuberville wasn’t Pat Dye, and not just because he didn’t win a national title. He only had the 1 conference title, and under Tuberville in the 21st Century, there were only 2 instances in which Auburn entered November with national title hopes.
After the 2004 season was probably the only time in during Tuberville’s Auburn tenure in which I would’ve even considered him the conference’s best coach, and even that was debatable.
He was a solid coach at his best, but there are a whole lot of arguments against him to be No. 2 behind only Saban.
The case for him — His 3 wins against Saban.
I joke, I joke. Even though I think that 2013 Auburn team was left in a much better position than what the 2012 record indicated, Malzahn still deserves a lot of credit for taking that team all the way to the national championship. Auburn was 1 more miracle finish away from closing out one of the most improbable national title seasons we’ve ever seen. His revolutionary offense was all the rage during that time.
Besides that runner-up season. Malzahn has taken Auburn to 3 BCS/New Year’s 6 Bowls in his 7 years. He might not have won any of them, but that’s still not something that happens by accident.
There was also the 3 wins against Saban.
Have I run out of arguments for Malzahn already? Looks like I have.
The case against him — I won’t waste a ton of your time on this argument because in my opinion, you already know a lot of this. Shoot, even Auburn fans know this.
- Failed to have winning SEC record in 3 of 7 seasons
- Losing record vs. Top 25 (19-23)
- Never had consecutive top-15 seasons
It’s probably not ideal when your fans have spent the past 4 years trying to figure out if you’re a good coach. Malzahn spent more of his 7 years at Auburn on the hot seat than off it. Is that everything? No, but if we’re talking about the coach who’s right behind Saban, I’d say that’s a pretty decent knock against him.
Maybe if Malzahn could go into Alabama, LSU or Georgia and win a game, this would be a different conversation. But for now, it’s not.
And in case you were wondering, yes, I’d take Mullen and Smart over Malzahn if I were ranking the top SEC coaches of the 21st Century. Malzahn earned a spot in this discussion because he cleared those 2 parameters.
The case for him — Orgeron’s argument is obviously predicated on what he did in 2019. To deliver arguably the best season in college football history is something. Regardless of what happens to him during the rest of his time at LSU, nobody will be able to take that away from him. He’s one of 3 guys on this list with a ring in the 21st Century.
But as I always say, it’s not just the 1 season. In the past 2 seasons, Orgeron is 11-1 vs. top-10 teams and he’s 6-2 against Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Georgia. Meyer and Miles are the only other coaches on this list who had consecutive New Year’s 6 Bowl victories.
Since Orgeron took over as the interim coach in 2016, he’s 17-6 against ranked opponents. Just for a little perspective, his predecessor Miles has the best winning percentage against ranked opponents among the coaches on this list at .647. Orgeron is at .739 as LSU’s head coach. Small sample size or not, that’s remarkable.
Orgeron’s personnel decisions have been second to none. Grabbing Joe Burrow in the middle of the 2018 offseason proved to be brilliant, as did turning the offense over to a 20-something without any experience running a college unit. Orgeron deserves all the credit he gets for those moves.
And for what it’s worth, Orgeron is the only coach of that group of 7 who is still in (nearly) unanimous favorable standing within his fan base. Then again, that’s sort of par for the course if you just won a national championship.
How much Orgeron continues to build his case remains to be seen.
The case against him — It’s a combination of 2 things.
The first is obviously Ole Miss. He went 0-12 against ranked opponents, never even sniffed a bowl game and was out in 3 forgettable years. Has Orgeron moved past that and showed that he’s a much better coach than he was 13 years ago? Absolutely. But if we’re talking about who’s the No. 2 SEC coach of the 21st Century, that has to be part of his résumé.
Because of that time, he has the worst overall and SEC winning percentage among this group. He actually still has a losing record against the SEC at 26-28. That’s what happens when you have to dig out of a 3-21 hole.
And while I believe Orgeron has a bright future, it’s still so early during his time as a successful SEC coach. We’ve seen how others on this list handled success. Some, I’d argue, are more proven than others. Could Orgeron be atop this list in 2025 after a few more SEC Championships? Absolutely, but that’s projecting.
Let’s see if Orgeron can become the first SEC coach to beat Saban in consecutive seasons since Hugh Freeze in 2015. Every coach on this list has at least 1 win against Saban at Alabama. Orgeron’s ability to do that consistently will determine how high on this list he can rise.
The worst take you can have about this debate
“Coach O deserves it because of what he just did.”
That’s a bad take because I can tweak it and make it sound much better. Coach O deserves consideration* because of what he just did.
This isn’t a ranking of the best SEC coaches right now. If it were, I wouldn’t have 5 coaches listed who aren’t active SEC head coaches. This is about a 20-year period of data. In an extremely small sample size, Orgeron was extraordinary. For this discussion, however, we have to treat 2019 the same way we treat 2000.
I’ll admit I’ve suffered from recency bias in the past, but it diminishes the integrity of the debate to put so much focus on 2019. If Orgeron were the only coach on this list who won a national title, sure, it’s a different discussion. That wouldn’t be recency bias, though. That would just be cold, hard facts.
Would I bet against Orgeron to own this argument when we revisit it in 2025? No, but I can’t get there right now.
The thing I didn’t know/forgot about until researching this
Speaking of LSU coaches, Miles’ record against ranked opponents is still incredible. Like, it was so good that I triple-checked it. He went 42-23 (.647) against ranked foes over the course of 11-plus years in the SEC.
Stop for a second and pour a grass smoothie out for the Mad Hatter.
Not even Meyer had a better winning percentage against ranked foes (Meyer was also just 3-3 against Miles). Regardless of every negative thing you can say about Miles, that’s something he deserves more respect for. I always go by the rule that if you have a winning record against ranked foes, you’re doing something right. So why then was that not good enough for LSU?
(Saban thought it was more than good enough for LSU.)
— FootballScoop Staff (@FootballScoop) September 26, 2016
Obviously, there was more to it than just the record against ranked foes. The record that probably frustrated LSU fans was the fact that from 2012-15 — after that historically dominant 2011 LSU team lost to Alabama in the rematch — the Tigers were 9-9 in games that were played in November or later. Ask Kevin Sumlin how quickly you can lose an SEC fanbase when you can’t win in November.
And while Miles was indeed better against ranked foes than Meyer, it’s also worth noting that Meyer went 0-4 against ranked foes during that 2010 collapse. Before that, he was a solid 18-6, which was obviously an insanely good number for 5 years.
Nonetheless, I come back to this thought. If you told Florida or Georgia fans right now that they could have their respective coaches 11-plus years and they’d win a national title and win 65% of their games against ranked foes, they’d take that all day, every day (Smart is currently at 61% while Mullen is at 63%).
In other words, don’t discount what Miles did just because of how it ended in Baton Rouge.
Where I stand on this debate
What if after 4,000 words, I just told you that I went with Meyer because he had 2 national championships and that was more than anyone else? You’d feel cheated, wouldn’t you?
Nah. I couldn’t make it that simple, though I do believe that if you asked the average fan whose SEC coaching tenure they’d take of anyone on this list, they’d go with Meyer. Rings tend to speak loudly.
But I thought that’d be the easy way out. The whole point of doing these debates is to strip down the biases and narratives.
So instead, I came up with a scoring system based on 6 categories to evaluate these 7 coaches:
- Overall winning percentage
- Overall SEC winning percentage
- Top-25 winning percentage
- SEC titles
- National titles
- Inherited-to-peak wins
All of those are pretty self-explanatory except for the last one. “Inherited-to-peak wins” is looking at what a coach inherited and comparing it to how many games they won in their best season. For example, the year before Tuberville took over, Auburn won 3 games. At their peak while Tuberville was there, the Tigers won 13 games. That means Tuberville’s inherited-to-peak wins is 10.
As for the scoring system, any coach who gets 1st place in one of those categories gets 7 points. Second place gets 6 points and so on. In the event of a tie — like we had for national championships — I add up the point total assigned to of all the tied parties and divide it by the amount of coaches who tied.
So, here’s that breakdown of these numbers in the 21st century (in the last parentheses is the point total awarded):
- Urban Meyer — 65-15 (.813) (+7)
- Les Miles— 114-34 (.770) (+6)
- Mark Richt — 145-51 (.740) (+5)
- Tommy Tuberville — 80-34 (.702) (+4)
- Gus Malzahn — 62-31 (.667) (+3)
- Steve Spurrier — 106-54 (.663) (+2)
- Ed Orgeron — 50-34 (.595) (+1)
- Urban Meyer — 36-12 (.750) (+7)
- Mark Richt — 83-37 (.692) (+6)
- Les Miles — 62-28 (.689) (+5)
- Tommy Tuberville — 50-24 (.676) (+4)
- Gus Malzahn — 33-23 (.589) (+3)
- Steve Spurrier — 57-43 (.570) (+2)
- Ed Orgeron — 26-28 (.481) (+1)
WIN PERCENTAGE VS. TOP 25
- Les Miles — 42-23 (.647) (+7)
- Urban Meyer — 18-10 (.643) (+6)
- Tommy Tuberville — 21-19 (.525) (+5)
- Mark Richt — 38-35 (.521) (+4)
- Steve Spurrier — 30-31 (.492) (+3)
- Ed Orgeron — 17-18 (.486) (+2)
- Gus Malzahn — 19-23 (.452) (+1)
- Urban Meyer — 2 (+6)
- Les Miles — 2 (+6)
- Mark Richt — 2 (+6)
- Tommy Tuberville — 1 (+2.5)
- Ed Orgeron — 1 (+2.5)
- Steve Spurrier — 1 (+2.5)
- Gus Malzahn — 1 (+2.5)
- Urban Meyer — 2 (+7)
- Les Miles — 1 (+5.5)
- Ed Orgeron — 1 (+5.5)
- Tommy Tuberville — 0 (+2.5)
- Gus Malzahn — 0 (+2.5)
- Steve Spurrier — 0 (+2.5)
- Mark Richt — 0 (+2.5)
- Tommy Tuberville — +10 (+7)
- Gus Malzahn — +9 (+6)
- Urban Meyer — +6 (+4.5)
- Ed Orgeron — +6 (dating to 2015) (+4.5)
- Steve Spurrier (at SC) — +5 (+2.5)
- Mark Richt — +5 (+2.5)
- Les Miles — +4 (+1)
Again, this is all based on what these guys did as SEC head coaches in the 21st Century. That’s why Spurrier doesn’t have a national title. To be honest, I thought that Spurrier would be helped from the inherited-to-peak wins category. Instead, it probably hurt him a touch.
Oh, that’s right! The final standings!
- Urban Meyer — 37.5
- Les Miles — 30.5
- Mark Richt — 26
- Tommy Tuberville — 25
- Gus Malzahn — 18
- Ed Orgeron — 16.5
- Steve Spurrier — 14.5
That’s by no means an exact ranking. In no world am I taking Tuberville and Malzahn over Spurrier. Sorry, but that’s not happening. If we’re being honest, I’m taking Smart and Mullen over both of those Auburn coaches. I’d probably have Spurrier at No. 3 on this list behind Meyer and Miles.
But yeah, I’m still going with Meyer as my No. 1 choice.
The guy had a 3-year stretch in which he either won a national title or produced a Heisman Trophy winner. And that’s not including the 2009 season when Florida’s only loss was to eventual-national championship Alabama. That brings immense value to a program.
Meyer might not have left on ideal terms, and you could make an obvious case that peak-Saban was indeed better than peak-Meyer, but man, go back to the latter half of the 2000s decade. Florida was a juggernaut in every sense of the word. If Orgeron has 2 more years that resemble the 2 he previously had, that would be like what Florida did with Meyer from 2006-09. It’d probably be a touch better.
For all the knocks against Meyer, any athletic director would hire someone to match his success for that 6-year run at Florida. That’s can’t be denied.
Will he hold onto this title through the 2020s? I’ll save that for a later date.