Ranking Head Coaches of the SEC
2011: 11-2 (under Bobby Petrino)
Arkansas Record: 0-0 (1st season)
In 2011, Smith was the special teams coach for the Razorbacks who left to coach Weber State until Bobby Petrino's scandal and firing brought him back. Arkansas hired Smith - who hasn't been a head coach since 2006 with Michigan State - out of necessity, not desire.
The zany Smith - who also had been a head coach at Idaho, Utah State and Louisville - didn't fare well at the end of his tenure with the Spartans, who unraveled with some public outbursts and just three Big Ten wins in Smith's last two seasons in East Lansing. He will inherit a team that challenged for the national title and sports star QB Tyler Wilson, but Smith appears to be in over his head.Photo: Beth Hall/US Presswire
Kentucky Record: 11-14 (3rd season)
It has been an ugly two years in Lexington for Phillips, whose team's struggles on the gridiron have been obscured by the great success of John Calipari's Wildcats of the hardwood. Under Phillips, Kentucky has has had two losing seasons and just four combined SEC wins.
A former UK player and assistant coach on more than one occasion, Phillips helped the 'Cats score more points when he was offensive coordinator. It hasn't really translated to his success as a head coach, though he may have saved his job for the time being with a long-awaited win over Tennessee to close the 2011 season.Photo: Mark Zerof/US Presswire
Tennessee Record: 11-14 (3rd season)
Those in Knoxville aren't patient when it comes to their football team losing. And under Dooley, the Vols have put forth two straight losing seasons and a combined 11 wins in two seasons. That has Dooley squarely on the hot seat at once-proud Tennessee, which hasn't won a bowl game since 2008.
To be fair, Dooley wasn't put in a great situation after taking over a program depressed by the unexpected departure of coach Lane Kiffin. Dooley also had his team ravaged by injuries in 2011, including a torn ACL for WR Justin Hunter and a thumb injury that sidelined QB Tyler Bray for part of the season. That being said, 2012 could be Dooley's last at UT.
Photo: Mark Zerof/US Presswire
2011: 2-10 (under Houston Nutt)
Ole Miss Record: 0-0 (1st season)
Freeze, 42, will try to turn around Ole Miss after the disastrous finish to the Houston Nutt era that include a winless SEC campaign in 2011. We think Freeze has potential, winning 10 games in his lone season at Arkansas State after success in the NAIA, but he's no longer in the Sun Belt.
Freeze has just three years of college coaching experience - two at Lambuth College, one at Arkansas State - and now will be thrown into the SEC fire at a school whose fanbase is desperate for a turnaround. The Rebels haven't been to a bowl game since 2009 and seemingly have fallen behind both Mississippi State and Southern Miss in the state's football pecking order. It will be an uphill climb.
Photo: Nelson Chenault/US Presswire
Florida Record: 7-6 (2nd season)
Muschamp's first season as the coach at Florida simply was forgettable as the team lost to each of the ranked SEC opponents it faced. He did have the unenviable task of taking over for Urban Meyer, who won two national titles at the helm of the Gators. Granted, Muschamp's team finished off their coach's first campaign with a 24-17 victory over Meyer's new school, Ohio State, in the Gator Bowl.
Muschamp, who at one point was coach-in-waiting at Texas, didn't prove that he can bring Florida back to prominence in one season. A well respected assistant with the Longhorns, we will have to wait and see before moving him any higher on this list of head coaches.Photo: Phil Sears/US Presswire
Mississippi State Record: 21-17 (4th season)
Mullen's tenure with the Bulldogs hasn't been terrible and has included dominance over in-state rival Ole Miss. He won nine games in 2010, including some impressive SEC wins, and capped it off with a win over Michigan in the Gator Bowl. However, the team went backward in 2011, winning just seven games and only two in SEC play.
Mullen denied reports last fall that he was was close to signing a deal to become the next coach at Penn State, which eventually hired Bill O'Brien away from the New England Patriots. Now that he has remained in Starkville, let's see where he takes the Bulldogs in his fourth campaign.Photo: Nelson Chenault/US Presswire
2011: 7-6 (under Mike Sherman)
Texas A&M Record: 0-0 (1st season)
Sumlin will have the honor of coaching Texas A&M in its first season in the SEC. The Aggies will lose quarterback Ryan Tannehill and are coming off a mediocre 2011 season, which they capped with a win over Northwestern in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
The 47-year-old Sumlin, a former A&M offensive coordinator, did an incredible job in his first head-coaching job at Houston, which he guided to a 12-0 regular season in 2011 before losing to Southern Miss in the Conference USA title game. Sumlin has the potential to be a top coach in the SEC with his "Air Raid" offense but the SEC West is a huge upgrade from Conference USA.Photo: Brett Davis/US Presswire
Missouri Record: 85-54 (12th season)
Pinkel will get a shot in the arm at Missouri with the decision of in-state WR recruit Dorial Green-Beckham to stay home and play for the Tigers. But Pinkel will need to do better than eight-win seasons with DGB on the roster and the expectations through the roof.
The head man at Mizzou since 2001, Pinkel has had three double-digit win seasons and four bowl wins for Missouri during that time. But now the Tigers will debut in the SEC with all eyes on Pinkel to take the program to the next level.Photo: Dak Dillon/US Presswire
Vanderbilt Record: 6-7 (2nd season)
We can say this about Franklin's first year in Nashville: Vanderbilt no longer is an SEC doormat - or at least, the Commodores won't get treated like one. Franklin's team won six games and made a bowl game in his first season, not exactly a foregone conclusion for Vandy.
While that's not a big deal for most schools, Franklin has engineered a change of culture, as evidenced by his confrontation with Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and the close losses against SEC powers Georgia, Arkansas and Florida. Don't expect him to hang around Nashville much longer.Photo: Kim Klement/US Presswire
Georgia Record: 106-38 (12th season)
It seems as if Richt always is on the hot seat. His Dawgs lost their first two games in 2011, making that seat scorching, before then reeled off 10 straight wins to save Richt's job with a berth in the SEC Championship Game. He has been consistently resilient while churning out good, if not great, results.
But let's not forget that Richt's best season was a decade ago, 13 wins and spot in the Sugar Bowl in the 2002 season. Yeah, we agree that cool-and-collected Richt is a good coach, but there needs to be better overall results before we can place him higher than the other luminaries of the SEC on this list.
Photo: Kim Klement/US Presswire
Auburn Record: 30-10 (4th season)
Chizik has to be among the top four coaches on this list based solely on Auburn's national championship after the 2010 season - Chizik's second campaign as coach of the Tigers. It was the first national title since 1957 for Auburn, which got to scream "War Eagle!" in the face of opposing fans who labeled Cam Newton and the Tigers cheaters.
Not to throw cold water on Chizik's accomplishment, but let's not forget that Auburn needed perhaps the greatest single season in the history of college football from dynamic QB Cam Newton to pull it off. Can Auburn stay among the SEC elite without Newton? This fall will be a big indicator.Photo: Nelson Chenault/US Presswire
South Carolina Record: 55-35 (8th season)
There's no question that Spurrier has an incredible resume, which was forged at Florida, where the Gators won the 1996 national title under his tutelage and were a regular in big-time bowl games. After a failed NFL stint, Spurrier returned to the college game at South Carolina, which had been mediocre until 20 combined wins in the last two seasons.
That's right, the Ol' Ball Coach has his swagger back at a school where many thought he never could succeed - and that's despite the dismissal of QB Stephen Garcia last year. An 11-win campaign and first bowl win since 2006 is enough to make the offensive guru celebrate with his shirt off.
Photo: Nelson Chenault/US Presswire
LSU Record: 75-18 (8th season)
OK, let's get past the circus act that is Miles, who is known to eat grass. Don't forget that the man can coach. That's why there have been rumors that he could be a great NFL coach if he opts to leave Baton Rouge one day.
LSU won't want to let him go. He has won at least eight games in each season in Baton Rouge, with double-digit outputs in five of his seven campaigns. Miles' LSU team won the 2007 national title and returned to the national title game this past January, where he earned his share of critics for playing the struggling Jordan Jefferson under center for the whole game. The knock on Miles is that he's a great recruiter and average game coach, a stereotype that was only fueled in a 21-0 blowout loss to Alabama in New Orleans last January.
Something tells us the "Mad Hatter" won't let the critics bother him.
Photo: Marvin Gentry/US Presswire
Alabama Record: 50-12 (6th season)
This is what you call a no-brainer. Not only is Nick Saban the best coach in the SEC, he’s the best in the nation. He’s won two national titles in three seasons and three overall between his time at Alabama and LSU. A great recruiter, relentless coach and master tactician, Saban is only 60-years old and could go down as the second greatest college coach ever behind Bear Bryant by the time he’s done.
Yes, it's little wonder why Saban already has his own statue in Tuscaloosa.
Photo: Matthew Emmons/US Presswire
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