A year ago, Urban Meyer was the chosen one. The debate over who was the best head football coach in the SEC had seemingly ended a few months earlier at the Georgia Dome. Some in the news media were pushing Meyer as perhaps, the greatest coach ever.
Today, a new (but familiar) man sits atop my annual rankings of SEC coaches:
1. Nick Saban (Alabama): From No. 2 to Meyer a year ago to No. 1, not only in the SEC but in all of college football. With two national titles (at different schools), three SEC crowns and the preseason No. 1 in the nation for the upcoming season, life is good for the Alabama coach.
2. Urban Meyer (Florida): Before anyone gets carried away about Meyer’s battlefield demotion, he is still 26-2 over the past two seasons with a No. 1 and a No. 3 finish. He also won the 2006 national title and was 12-0 at Utah in 2004. Chris Low of ESPN.com recently looked at the marks of the SEC coaches against their big three rivals, and Meyer is 14-1 against Tennessee, Georgia and FSU. The fact that Meyer and Saban could face each other twice this season will likely end debate on this question for awhile.
3. Bobby Petrino (Arkansas): After a stunning 41-9 mark at Louisville, fans are still waiting for Petrino to put it all together at Arkansas. On paper, his record in Fayetteville (13-12, 5-11 SEC) is unimpressive. However, fans believe this could be the year the greatness of Petrino comes out again.
4. Steve Spurrier (South Carolina): Rarely, if ever, in Spurrier’s incandescent Hall of Fame career have you heard the words, “This is a critical year.” However, after last year’s 7-6 finish, Spurrier needs a big year. His program has been very close to turning the corner and he remains one of the smartest coaches in the game. If only Spurrier could find the players to comprehend and execute what he is teaching them. He has done more with less; imagine if Spurrier coached at Georgia or LSU.
5. Mark Richt (Georgia): Everyone loves Mark Richt (blah, blah, blah), but can the guy coach? That’s a strong question to ask for someone with two SEC titles and a glittering résumé. However, Georgia fans have stuck their heads in the sand recently, giving Richt a blank check while blaming everyone else.
6. Les Miles (LSU): Perhaps the most difficult coach in the SEC to wrap one’s arms around. You can’t ignore a national championship on his résumé and a 34-6 record in his first three years. However, he has gone 8-5 and 9-4 since while compiling an 8-8 league record. The big clock in Baton Rouge is ticking loudly.
7. Gene Chizik (Auburn): Chizik has come a long way. The Auburn coach has put a top-notch staff together, and while the 2009 season was a roller-coaster ride, ending at 8-5, there
via Finebaum: Nick Saban tops SEC coach rankings | al.com.