Kevin Sumlin is developing the wrong kind of reputation in November.
His Texas A&M teams tend to start hot and fade late, the narrative goes, and the numbers back it up. The Aggies’ loss at Mississippi State on Saturday dropped Sumlin’s November record to 6-7 since he posted an undefeated final month with Johnny Manziel in 2012.
Why is the 11th month so important? Because that’s when great teams make championship runs, good teams jockey for bowl position and average teams become qualified for the postseason.
To borrow a phrase from the NBA: It’s “Winning Time.”
Sumlin’s recent lack of success in that area made us wonder: Which SEC coaches have the best records in November? There are some obvious choices (*cough, Saban, cough*), of course, but we thought there might be some surprises in the mix.
We were right.
Using the following criteria — SEC coaches in the BCS era (1998-present) who have coached at least 10 games in November — we set out to crunch the numbers. Here’s what we found:
Mr. November rankings
|1. Urban Meyer||Florida||87.5||21-3|
|2. James Franklin||Vanderbilt||83.3||10-2|
|3. Ron Zook||Florida||81.8||9-2|
|4. Phillip Fulmer||Tennessee||80.0||36-9|
|5. Nick Saban||Alabama/LSU||77.8||42-12|
|6. Mark Richt||Georgia||77.2||44-13|
|7. Bobby Petrino||Arkansas||75.0||12-4|
|8. Butch Jones||Tennessee||69.2||9-4|
|9. Les Miles||LSU||67.4||29-14|
|10. Steve Spurrier||Florida/S. Carolina||64.6||31-17|
|11. Gus Malzahn||Auburn||64.3||9-5|
|12. Derek Dooley||Tennessee||63.6||7-4|
|13. Gary Pinkel||Missouri||62.5||10-6|
|14. Houston Nutt||Arkansas/Ole Miss||62.1||36-22|
|15. Tommy Tuberville||Auburn/Ole Miss||60.6||20-13|
Based on our criteria, Urban Meyer is the clear No. 1 here, but one should give serious consideration to the work Fulmer did at Tennessee.
Because we only counted the BCS era, we left out the first years of his Volunteers career. From 1993 to 1997, he went 18-1 (!!!) in November, a remarkable accomplishment that boosts his career record to 54-10 (.844).
Franklin (15-13 in all other games) and Zook (14-12) were true November heroes. Now, on to the less-desirable list:
Mr. “Oh, No”vember rankings
|1. Woody Widenhofer||Vanderbilt||8.3||1-11|
|2. Bobby Johnson||Vanderbilt||11.1||3-24|
|3. Mark Stoops||Kentucky||14.3||2-12|
|4. Lou Holtz||South Carolina||16.7||3-15|
|5. Mike Shula||Alabama||23.1||3-10|
|6. Ed Orgeron||LSU/Ole Miss||30.0||3-7|
|7. Sylvester Croom||Mississippi State||31.3||5-11|
|8. Jackie Sherrill||Mississippi State||36.0||9-16|
|9. David Cutcliffe||Ole Miss||38.1||8-13|
|10. Rich Brooks||Kentucky||38.5||10-16|
Apologies for the flashbacks, Vandy fans.