Serious question: Who’s the SEC’s second-best coach?

"Heard any good quarterback rumors, Nick?" (Brynn Anderson/AP photo)

“We miss you down here, Urban.” (Brynn Anderson/AP photo)

Nick Saban is the best coach in the SEC and maybe the history of the world. But now we ask: Who’s the second-best coach in the SEC?

Jim McElwain? He has won the SEC East with Florida two years running, which might say more about the SEC East than about Jimmy Mac. (He’s 2-7 against ranked opponents.) Gus Malzahn? His Auburn Tigers played for the 2013 BCS title but are 11-13 in league play since and have gone 0-6 against Alabama and Georgia the past three seasons.

Beyond that, who’s left? Hugh Freeze? Dan Mullen? Bret Bielema? Butch Jones? Kevin Sumlin? Will Muschamp? None has graced even an SEC title game. (And now there’s again Ed Orgeron, who was 3-21 in SEC games at Ole Miss.)

Just for fun, let’s stack that array against those of the other Power Five leagues.

ACC: Jimbo Fisher, Dabo Swinney, Bobby Petrino, Paul Johnson, David Cutcliffe, Justin Fuente, Pat Narduzzi, Mark Richt, Larry Fedora, Bronco Mendenhall.

Big Ten: Urban Meyer, Jim Harbaugh, Mark Dantonio, Kirk Ferentz, Paul Chryst, Mike Riley, James Franklin, Pat Fitzgerald.

Big 12: Bob Stoops, Bill Snyder, Gary Patterson, Mike Gundy, Dana Holgorsen, Jim Grobe and now Tom Herman.

Pac-12: Chris Petersen, David Shaw, Kyle Whittingham, Mike Leach, Mike MacIntyre, Clay Helton, Jim Mora, Rich Rodriguez, Todd Graham, Sonny Dykes.

Time was, the SEC was a repository of coaching excellence. Here were the coaches in the East in 2000: Spurrier, Fulmer, Holtz and Donnan — three of whom are in College Football Hall of Fame, and Spurrier will be soon — plus Hal Mumme, whose disciples (Leach and Holgorsen, to name two) still dot the landscape. And Saban and Tuberville and Nutt and Cutcliffe and Jackie Sherrill were in the West.

If you’re a big-time program with a vacancy — Oregon, let’s say, or maybe Notre Dame — is there anyone from the SEC (apart from Saban) you’d be lusting to hire? And if you’re wondering, “How is it that only one team in the biggest conference managed nine wins this season?” … well, isn’t the answer obvious? The coaches in the biggest league have gotten small.

Reader Comments 0

71 comments
Classof98
Classof98

Bradley points to Petrino, Cutcliffe, Mumme (?!?), Franklin, Holtz, Donnan as examples of the "good" coaches that the SEC used to have, but none of them ever played in an SEC Championship games.  If you are going to say the current coaches are no good because they never played in the SECCG, then you can't turnaround and say these coaches were any better.  By the way, who the heck is Mike MacIntyre?  Is he supposed to be an example of an elite, successful coach?  And Rich Rodriguez?  He is so awesome that Arizona just won three games.

Mulk
Mulk

@Classof98


they are examples of coaches with proven head coaching experience unlike some of the hires being made around these parts.

Oakland
Oakland

Former SEC coaches that have their name attached to a stadium:

Bear Bryant - Alabama

Bobby Dodd - Georgia Tech

Ralph Shug Jordan - Auburn

Frank Broyles - Arkansas (played and coached at GT)

Robert Neyland - Tennessee 

Dungbeetle
Dungbeetle

Do you really think you'll get any Georgia boosters to support a Florida coach?  :)

edclaud
edclaud

2nd best SEC coach is Dan Mullen.


LOGS1973
LOGS1973

Why Kirby Smart, no doubt!!

kbc9
kbc9

Derek Mason hands down.  Gets more out of his players than anyone in the conference.

Big Wally
Big Wally

Out of that list, there is only one coach who not only recruited, but also somehow kept eligible future triple murderer Aaron Hernandez. 

Big Wally
Big Wally

TOHIO:  Go fetch lapdog.  Sucking up to the other TOHIO, does that somehow make your like more meaningful?

TOJacket
TOJacket

That made no sense...AJC, can we please keep these kids off the blogs. Good grief!

OH:IO
OH:IO

@TOJacket


Urban was 5-1 vs. dogs. 


He's bitter


TIME OUT! 

TIME OUT!

TideDawg
TideDawg

Saban is number one!

Number two: McIlwain, Hugh Freeze, Dan Mullen

TideDawg
TideDawg

Bad attitude, bad talent, poor work ethic, poor character, pot heads, etc. etc. the list goes on. No coach can build a championship team with players that have those qualities. If a player has any of those character failures..........don't recruit them, let them go to Louisville. Better to play against them than trying to win with them.

TOJacket
TOJacket

Potheads? Are you Joe Friday

GTBob
GTBob

If I had to choose from that list it would probably be Bret Bielema. Pretty sad list though.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@GTBob And Bradley has the gall to ask this Smart Assed question(no pun intended) after he led the charge to run CMR out of Athens.

TonyMaraco
TonyMaraco

@GTBob Beliema's wife---hottest in the SEC. Next would be Muschamp's wife.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@Natrone

Kiffin's is up there if you expand your horizons beyond HCs.

OH:IO
OH:IO

@Buschleaguer


8-9 man front forcing the pass game and a young porous o-line. See RT Prince. 


JT does not take unnecessary risks. He'll take the sack and he'll grind out a first down too, Urban goes conservative and grinds it out on the ground. 


Biggest weakness is no consistent deep threat (Cardale Jones to Devon Smith in 2015)  coupled with getting the time to let the deep threat develop. 


Urban knows he can win that type of grind it out game with OSU's tough defense.


Bama's front 7-8 will pose major threat based on what I've seen. Will be major challenge if OSU gets there. 


mgunter
mgunter

Coach Richt ! Oh wait, the geniuses at UGA fired him........ never mind.

twelveofthirteen
twelveofthirteen

Better question; who is the second best sports journalist at the AJC behind Ken?

OH:IO
OH:IO

@twelveofthirteen


Won't keep OSU out of playoffs. 


Won't keep you out of the annual toilet bowl. 

Mulk
Mulk

Well, it can't be the players - look at all the NFL rosters. It's got to be the coaching. I'm tired of picking on Smart but you would think that LSU could have done better than Coach O? There had to be some reason(s) that Jimbo and Herman made other decisions.


Harbaugh and Urban make the B1G a lot better but there ain't nothing wrong with Dantonio and Ferentz, either.

TOJacket
TOJacket

I said the same Damn thing. Freaking me out man!

DawgNole
DawgNole

@Mulk

Something wrong with Dantonio this year. We'll see if he recovers in '17.

Mulk
Mulk

Been saying this for for two years and the people hired in these last two years have not made this situation any better.

SaulK
SaulK

Saban---elite


The rest---average to mediocre to bad (malzhan has been to a title game, so he's probably the next best)

TOJacket
TOJacket

Kind of like the teams...there's no second best Coach, drops down to 5th best after Nick.

twelveofthirteen
twelveofthirteen

That could be said nationwide. No way Dabo is close to Saban. Maybe Meyer but everyone else is well behind that man.

Mulk
Mulk

@twelveofthirteen


Twelve,


Saban is the man, no doubt. I think the point of the article is that after him there really aren't a lot of good coaches in the SEC. That can NOT be said for  those other conferences or even "nationwide" as you said.

twelveofthirteen
twelveofthirteen

Very large gap between Saban and all of CFB. Bigger gap in the SEC sure. But don't kid yourself that he isn't well above everyone nationwide.

TOJacket
TOJacket

Maybe Meyer? Look... like or not doesn't matter, he is the 2nd best.

TOJacket
TOJacket

I'll be ready to say they're equal if Meyer wins it all this year. I want to see Washington lose and Michigan play Bama.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@OH:IO

Based on their last meeting 2 years ago, that's correct.

Hoping for a rematch this season--now that UGA and FSU barely missed the playoffs.

;-)