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SEC Power Poll: Ranking the coaches


For the first installment of the SEC Power Poll this year, we have been asked to rank the SEC football coaches.  After having seen several highly subjective and, in my view, questionable coaching rankings, I thought I would attempt to create a somewhat more objective ranking with a subjective component.  So here is how I scored it:

  • I took the average number of victories against BCS schools for each coach during the most recent 5-year period.  A coach was awarded 1 point per victory.  I also included their previous gig if they were head coach at a college, but only BCS victories were included, which is one reason why Petrino's is so low.
  • Each coach who has won a national championship inside the last 5 years gets 5 points.  If he won a national championship outside the 5-year window, he gets 3.
  • 2 points for each SEC championship.
  • 1 point for each divisional championship.
  • 2 points for each BCS bowl bid.
  • 1 point for each non-BCS bowl bid.
  • Up to 5 "feel good" points.  This is the subjective part.  If I feel a coach is beloved of his fan base and has the team obviously moving in the right direction, he gets 5, and I worked back from there.

OK, so given all that, the calculations come out as follows:

Rank Coach Objective Feel good Total
1 Miles 24.2 4 28.2
2 Meyer 20.8 5 25.8
3 Saban 19.33 5 24.33
4 Richt 19 5 24
5 Tuberville 17.6 3 20.6
6 Fulmer 15.4 2 17.4
7 Spurrier 9.33 3 12.33
8 Petrino 10.75 0 10.75
9 Brooks 5.2 5 10.2
10 Nutt 8.4 1 9.4
11 Croom 3 5 8
12 Johnson 2 5 7

You see some significant variation in "Feel Good" points, which I will now attempt to explain:

  • Miles -- Got 4 only because there has been restlessness in Baton Rouge despite his success there.  Hard to understand, but there it is.
  • Meyer, Saban, Richt -- What can I say?  All their fans love them, and they are fine coaches.  Of the three, I'd say Saban is the most vulnerable to a bad season this year, but Alabama is going to give him some time.  It's easy to see why by looking at his objective points.
  • Tuberville -- you always get the impression that Auburn is looking for the BBD (bigger, better deal).  There is still some bad blood there for the debacle back in 2003 when Auburn interviewed Petrino behind Tubby's back.
  • Fulmer -- I don't think I need to explain this.  Some UT fans would love to boot Fulmer even now, but are kind of forced to shut up because UT won the East last year.  But dissatisfaction can be heard bubbling down in Knoxville to any but the seriously hearing-impaired.
  • Spurrier -- The Evil Genius has been far from spectacular in Columbia, and one more below average year will bring the frustration to the surface.
  • Petrino -- I loathe Petrino, and this is how I treat people I despise.  I did say this part was subjective.  Besides that, no way I can place him above Spurrier.  Subjectively, Spurrier is a better coach, and if any of his Florida years could be included, it wouldn't be close.
  • Brooks. Croom, Johnson -- Of these, only Croom is really vulnerable at the moment.  MSU is OK with current progress, but if Croom moves backwards at all this year, dissatisfaction will start to bubble up.  Johnson is invulnerable -- he has done a great job with what he has to work with.  Brooks, right now, is in the same situation.
  • Houston Nutt -- Nutt could not have a better last name -- the guy is a little daffy.  He's a pretty good coach, but Ole Miss is sick and fed up with being a doormat.  They have an actual history of good football as recently as 2003, and their patience with Nutt is likely to be limited.  Nutt's Arkansas experience will be merrilly dug up by his detractors if he falters.

So there we go -- my attempt to quantify the quality of each coach without completely removing my own perception of their place within the SEC and their own fan base.


Joel at Rocky Top Talk has also attempted a more objective ranking system.  Unlike mine, which looks only at the last 5 years and only at BCS team victories, Joel includes the entire history of the coaches.

I point this out not to disagree with Joel, but to take the opportunity to compare a broad, historical view with a "last 5 years" view.  Here is how that looks on a chart:

Coach AsoB Rank RTT Rank Delta
Miles 1 4 3
Meyer 2 5 3
Saban 3 3 0
Richt 4 7 3
Tuberville 5 6 1
Fulmer 6 2 -4
Spurrier 7 1 -6
Petrino 8 9 1
Brooks 9 11 2
Nutt 10 8 -2
Croom 11 12 1
Johnson 12 10 -2

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to make some right-way, wrong-way conclusions on this one.