It’s officially list season around the country, and The Athletic’s Stewart Mandel dropped his top 25 coaches for the upcoming season on Tuesday morning. Nick Saban was the obvious choice at No. 1, but there were plenty of surprises after the top spot.
Four other SEC coaches made the list: No. 7 Jimbo Fisher, No. 10 Kirby Smart, No. 19 Dan Mullen and No. 22 Gus Malzahn.
With the SEC changing out so many coaches this past offseason, landing five on this list is solid. New coaches like Joe Moorhead at Mississippi State or Jeremy Pruitt at Tennessee will likely have the chance to crack the top 25 later in their careers.
Saban’s résumé speaks for itself — six national titles and two in the last three years. Alabama continues to recruit in a way that suggests the dynasty will continue, even though Georgia took home the top class in 2018. He’s the clear and obvious choice at No. 1 on any coaching list for the foreseeable future.
Here’s what Mandell had to say about Fisher:
“Fisher’s Florida State tenure ended in ugly fashion, but not before he won a national championship and finished in the top 10 four times in five seasons. He’s a tenacious recruiter and renowned quarterback coach who’s developed four first-rounders.”
And here’s his take on Smart, the only other SEC coach to make the top 10:
My guess is two years from now he’ll have moved into my top five. As of today, he’s been a head coach for two seasons, but he offered the first taste of the potential juggernaut he’s building at Georgia with a run to the national title game and the No. 1 recruiting class.
Indeed, Smart seems like a candidate to move up significantly in the next year or two. His Bulldogs came within a play or two of dethroning Alabama in the CFP title game this year, and the future looks very bright in Athens.