Ranking SEC Coaches: Mullen beginning to work his magic
The SEC’s best coaches are in the Western Division. It appears that way after five weeks, doesn’t it?
Ranking coaches based on their 2014 seasons to date, here’s a quick glance:
5. MARK STOOPS, Kentucky: The Wildcats are a triple-overtime loss away from being the SEC East’s lone unbeaten. How crazy is that considering Kentucky’s steep decline in recent years? This team’s on the way up and with a win over South Carolina on Saturday, jumps from pretender to contender in a wide-open division. It appears the Wildcats are still a year or two away from relevancy, but not if they upset the Gamecocks.
4. HUGH FREEZE, Ole Miss: The Rebels’ big test comes at home in three days against top-ranked Alabama, an adversary who has dominated this rivalry over its 100-year history. Ole Miss finally has the pieces in place in Year 3 under Freeze to compete for conference championships, but we’ll know more late Saturday evening.
3. NICK SABAN, Alabama: Saban’s brought annual championship expectations to Tuscaloosa, an element that speaks volumes to his success as a head coach. He’s feared by many, not just for his expert knowledge of the game but by the team he puts on the field every weekend. The Crimson Tide’s business-like approach is too much for most opponents to handle and Saban once again has Alabama in the thick of the national championship picture as the SEC’s best team.
2. DAN MULLEN, Mississippi State: It helps when you have an elite quarterback, but Mullen’s beginning to work his magic in Starkville it appears, so much so that his name’s already been tied to probable Michigan and Florida coaching openings. He snapped a 16-game losing streak against ranked teams at LSU and just like that, his overall worth changed. A win over unbeaten Texas A&M this weekend catapults Mullen into the national coach of the year conversation. If the Bulldogs finish with double-digit wins, it may be hard for Mississippi State to keep him this offseason.
1. KEVIN SUMLIN, Texas A&M: Last week’s win over Arkansas could be judged as more impressive than the opener at ninth-ranked South Carolina, considering Texas A&M’s two-touchdown comeback late. The Gamecocks were obviously overrated, but what the Aggies did against the Razorbacks proved Texas A&M can win the battle at the line of scrimmage in crunch time, a knock that’s followed Sumlin since he arrived in College Station. An obvious contender in the West, a win over Mississippi State on Saturday could push Sumlin’s team into the Top 5.