Alabama’s Nick Saban is the best among the SEC coaches, and any list that indicates otherwise can immediately be discarded as useless propaganda. Let’s just get that out the way right now.
But ranking No. 2 to No. 14 in the league behind the Alabama legend? That’s open to interpretation.
Athlon Sports’ Steven Lassan attempted to do the impossible on Monday— create the perfect SEC coaches rankings heading into the 2017 season.
The first thing that may catch most people’s eyes is LSU’s Ed Orgeron ranked at No. 13 in the SEC. After all, he’s sitting on what most agree is a Top 10 caliber program.
“It seems Orgeron has learned a lot since the three-year run at Ole Miss, Lassan wrote. “Orgeron should be better prepared for this stint at LSU, but is he the right hire to help the program close the gap on Alabama?”
The next big surprise on the list was one spot ahead of Orgeron as Georgia’s Kirby Smart checked in at No. 12 on the list.
The major reason for the low ranking for Smart: “After one season, plenty of questions remain about Smart and whether or not he can elevate Georgia in the national conversation.”
Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen ranked at No. 2 behind Saban on the list in spite of a 6-7 record last season. Athlon cites his 61-42 record at Mississippi State in a loaded SEC West as the leading indicator of the type of job Mullen is doing with the Bulldogs.
Here’s a look at the complete rankings, which Athlon Sports explains (and defends) at length:
1. Nick Saban, Alabama
2. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
3. Jim McElwain, Florida
4. Gus Malzahn, Auburn
5. Bret Bielema, Arkansas
6. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss
7. Butch Jones, Tennessee
8. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
9. Will Muschamp, South Carolina
10. Mark Stoops, Kentucky
11. Derek Mason, Vanderbilt
12. Kirby Smart, Georgia
13. Ed Orgeron, LSU
14. Barry Odom, Missouri