If the SEC is the best conference in college football, its programs are doing it in spite of lacking top-level talent among head coaches. At least that’s what CBS Sports is trying to convince us.
On Tuesday, the prominent sports site released the first glimpse at its Power 5 coaches rankings. Writer Tom Fornelli unleashed No. 65 to No. 26 on the list, saving the top 25 for a future article.
Among those outside of the top 25, we found 10 of the 14 SEC coaches. And many of them were pretty low on the list that includes all coaches from the Pac-12, ACC, Big 12 and Big Ten along with the SEC.
The worst coach in the Power 5? That distinction belongs to Chris Ash of Rutgers. But there are only two coaches between Ash and the lowest SEC coach in the rankings — Barry Odom at No. 62.
Here’s a look at where the 10 SEC coaches were ranked.
62. Barry Odom, Missouri
56. Mark Stoops, Kentucky
54. Kirby Smart, Georgia
53. Derek Mason, Vanderbilt
52. Butch Jones, Tennessee
48. Ed Orgeron, LSU
40. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
37. Will Muschamp, South Carolina
33. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss
27. Bret Bielema, Arkansas
That means only Alabama’s Nick Saban, Florida’s Jim McElwain, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn and Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen made the top 25. Their positions within that list are to be revealed, but if we had to guess, Saban will be at the top of the list.
If he’s not, expect Fornelli to get more than his share of angry feedback from the Crimson Tide faithful.
But let’s go a little deeper into our critique of these rankings. According to Fornelli, five of the seven SEC East coaches are in the bottom 20 percent of Power 5 head coaches. And Purdue’s Jeff Brohm (No. 47) — who has not coached a single game in the Power 5 — is considered better than Butch Jones and Kirby Smart.
While Smart and Jones are far from perfect, they deserve more respect than that. Even Stoops and Mason led perennially mediocre programs to bowl games last season.