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Final SEC Coaching Grades – Post-Bowl Edition

The season is over and the bowls have run their course.  With that in mind we take one final look back at the men who led the SEC’s football programs in 2010.  Below are our final grades for each man’s work this season.  And we’ve changed a couple since the end of the regular season.  Like the Birmingham school district, we reserve the right to make adjustments when necessary.


1.  Gene Chizik — A+

Auburn’s coach earned an additional “+” for winning the BCS Championship Game and that results in him being the MrSEC.com SEC Coach of the Year.  Prior to the national title game, we had marked his grade down a tad because Chizik’s team happened to boast the obvious best player in college football.  The thought being: Just about anyone could win big with Cam Newton.  But three things changed our thinking on Monday night.  First, Newton wasn’t at his best against Oregon.  Second, Auburn won that game with defense… and defense is Chizik’s specialty.  Third, when you win a national crown, you deserve an A+ even without the benefit of the last two facts.


2.  Dan Mullen — A

Mullen got more from less than any other coach in the league this year.  A 9-4 record, bowl win, and heartless beatdown of Michigan (and a then-fading Rich Rodriguez) were all accomplished without the aid of a star player.  If you asked a college football fan in Colorado to name an MSU player from 2010 you’d get a blank stare in response.  Now Mullen will have to prove that he was the man behind the Bulldogs’ success and not departed D-coordinator Manny Diaz.


3.  Les Miles — A

Miles looked to be in serious trouble after he nearly bungled the end of the Tigers’ game with Tennessee.  Fans began making it very clear that they were tired of his time-management woes.  But Miles led LSU to an 11-2 record, a Top 10 finish (for the first time in three years), and a big bowl win over Texas A&M.  Most importantly, he also went head-to-head with Nick Saban and won.  Tiger fans loooooved that.


4.  Bobby Petrino — A

The Razorbacks were blessed with a Heisman-candidate quarterback and a high-flying offense.  They were expected to step forward and make their presence known on the national stage in 2010.  They did.  The Hogs won 10 games, wound up ranked 12th in the country and earned the school’s first BCS berth.  If only they hadn’t gotten stage fright against Ohio State.  Petrino has the Razorbacks headed in the right direction.


5.  Steve Spurrier — B+

The final record for Carolina was 9-5.  The nine wins were special (considering the Cocks’ history).  But it’s hard to grade someone too highly when their team loses five games, gets whipped in the SEC title game and fails to show up for their bowl game (again).  But we’ll give Spurrier a “+” mark because he did lead Carolina to its first SEC title game.  We’ll not be so easy on the Ol’ Ball Coach next season.  His team should be better in 2011.


6.  Nick Saban — B

Saban is in most folks’ opinion the best coach in the country.  But he didn’t prove that this year.  Saban’s team had most of its talent returning from the 2009 BCS championship squad.  But the Tide never seemed to have the same mental toughness as the previous year’s team.  Three losses — especially the loss at LSU — with such a strong team were surprising.  It goes to show how difficult repeating as SEC champs can be.  The blowout win over Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl gave Saban a late grade boost.


7.  Derek Dooley — C

Dooley inherited a mess at Tennessee and he finished with a 6-7 record.  His unit did reach a bowl game and that counts in his favor.  But Dooley’s season went just as most had predicted.  Zero wins over teams with winning records, six wins over traditional doormats.  That’s an average job.  But Vol fans can thank him for keeping their zillion-year streak over Kentucky alive.  For Dooley, the big test comes on signing day.


8.  Robbie Caldwell — C

How can we give Caldwell a “C” grade when he went 2-10 and was fired?  Because a 2-10 record and a firing were the expectations for 2010.  The Commodores were bad.  Caldwell was a stop-gap hire.  He did exactly what we expected.  Thus, an average grade.


9.  Joker Phillips — C-

Phillips’ Wildcats took a slight step backward from 2009 with a 6-7 finish and a bad, ugly loss to a coachless Pitt team in the BBVA Comp… oh, whatever it was called.  The Cats were picked to finish ahead of rival Tennessee this year in the SEC East.  They did not.  And Phillips wasn’t able to stop UK’s losing streak against their most-hated rivals, either.  The fans noticed.  And they responded by letting Phillips and his team travel to Birmingham all by their lonesome.  Phillips has some work to do in 2011… just to win over Cat fans.


10.  Urban Meyer — D

Not the best way for Florida’s legendary coach to go out.  But the expectations were high in Gainesville.  A roster stocked with four- and five-star recruits led most everyone to believe the Gators would keep right on rolling sans Tim Tebow.  Not so.  And when things went from bad to worse on offense, Meyer never really came up with an answer.  There were no major changes made to his system.  With each loss he simply threw another quarterback into the rotation.  Meyer will be remembered for his great days at Florida… not his final season.


11.  Mark Richt — D

Who knows if Georgia gets off to a better start with AJ Green on the field in September or not?  Clearly, Green’s suspension hurt, but the coach had 84 other scholarship players to work with.  His team improved once Green returned and his staff did get quite a bit out of a redshirt freshman quarterback, too.  But the failure to show up for the Liberty Bowl hurt.  It’s one thing to lose to C-USA — the SEC always struggles in that bowl — it’s another to show no fight.  Richt is on a very hot seat in 2011.


12.  Houston Nutt — F

Speaking of hot seats.  Nutt took the Rebels to their first back-to-back New Year’s Day bowls in 50 years.  Just ask him.  But 2010 was a nightmare.  It started with the bad press received for bringing in Jeremiah Masoli.  It continued with losses to Jacksonville State and Vanderbilt.  It grew worse as the defense went totally belly-up.  And a second-straight loss to Mississippi State was the kicker (in the pants).  Nutt’s program at Arkansas had its high moments but it never seemed stable.  The pattern seems to be repeating in Oxford.

 


21 comments
NoRichtFan
NoRichtFan

Here's one UGA fan who hopes you are right about "Coach Overrated & Overpaid" Richt being on a very hot seat in 2011.

trey
trey

its amazing how petty and sad you tide fans are. AU kicked your a$$, deal with it. and was not alabama on probation not to long ago? ya'll cant even win when you cheat!!!! ha-ha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

mckat007@charter.net
mckat007@charter.net

re. Rating Nick Saban: "Three losses - especially the loss at L. S. U. - were surprising". For the record, the loss at L. S. U. was no upset. The Tigers had material equal to just about any team in the country. Their biggest problem was they had no quarterback that could throw the ball downfield or otherwise. They look in 2011 to compete for the SEC and National championship, as they have almost everyone back, plus the addition of a new quality quarterback and a new offensive coordinator.

CenLA Tiger
CenLA Tiger

How many did LSU have returning on D this past season? I'm tired of hearing the Gumps use this as an excuse. 11-2 baby!

RBM
RBM

I'm an LSU fan, but I think you may have been harsh on Dooley. The cupboard was pretty bare there. You're right ... proof will be in the pudding on signing day. And winning the bowl game would've made a huge difference -- 7-6 is worlds better than 6-7 -- but I think Vols fans can't be too unhappy with the way things turned out.

"B"
"B"

Bama Fans--
Don't you remember that your football team had a bye week in 2010 and 2009 the week before the LSU game...makes me wonder.

Sidney
Sidney

There are a lot of good coaches in the SEC, but only a few good coaches with class. Chizik deserves his A, as does Myles, and Mullen. All 3 are class acts who know how to compete in the very tough SEC. Being the highest paid coach doesn't make you the best coach. It just makes you rich.

mla
mla

AL lost 9 starters on defense, add to that that almost every team had a their week off before they played Alabama gives you an idea of the respect that Saban commands. There is NO doubt that Saban is the best coach in the SEC and arguably all of CFB.

The SEC is the Best (and most difficult) Conference to have extended success. AL will be back and reload. AU just had that extra "something" this year as proven by their NC. They were able to run, pass and possessed that third intangible option of having a QB who could create yards when everything else broke down. A combination hard to beat. They still had a SEC defense, which was proven against Oregon when every SEC fan knew that Oregon wouldn't be able to run the football. If you can win (survive) the SEC you will be the odds on favorite to win the NC!

Rick
Rick

Very well written and pretty accurate I think. AU took their lumps the last few years, but kudos to that upperclass laden team for representing the SEC well. It'd be tough to find a major college program without some skeleton's in their closets, and peddling your kid to the highest bidder is ridiculous, but I honestly believe Cam was an innocent victim in this (as are most college athletes) since they have to respect the wishes and leadership of their elders.

Regardless of what you think, for Gene Chizik to go undefeated with all of the distractions is nothing short of miraculous.

I'm not an auburn fan, but that was one tough team, who went undefeated in the SEC. That's a tough thing to do. Just ask Alabama who is the only team to do it 3 X's in a row ever (only time it's been done). I predicted they wouldn't go undefeated this year for the 3rd straight year in the regular season, and sure enough the level of competition got them too.

John
John

Saban's team was ahead by 24 points in the 3rd quarter and lost. Sounds like an "F" to me. Myles won a game after it was over. Incredible-"A".

John Armstrong
John Armstrong

What a stupid system of grading. No one who understands anything about coaching should take this systems seriously.

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

Cathy...

And it never ceases to amaze me how someone can call Nick Saban the best coach in the country time and again without hearing a single positive word from Tide fans, but the day he gives Saban a "B," then folks start complaining. That's amazing.

John

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

Mike...

I considered that point. But when you return a QB who'd never lost a game, a Heisman-winner at running back, an All-American level WR, a star DT and a star LB who had started the year before (so 8 truly new starters in 2010), I think the "most of the talent was back" line was fair. Also, Alabama's defense did not take much of a step back... it's offense is the area that seemed to regress.

Thanks for reading,
John

Mike
Mike

Saban lost 9 starters from his defense, so I don't believe your "most of its talent returning from the 2009 BCS championship squad" comment within his write up is correct. These 'replacement' players were all very talented but lacked experience playing. I agree with your grade of "B" for Saban, but your comment just doesn't jive with reality (IMHO)

John
John

Well We Won`t Have To Listen To This Bull Till Another 53yrs Go Bye !!

Marcus
Marcus

Hahahaha! Never count out "The Hat"! Next year we're going to find a way to win one 2 weeks after it's over.

sherry
sherry

you make no sense what so ever!

CSH
CSH

Let's see what happens at AU when they lose most of their O line, QB and Fairly. Speaking of Fairly, did anyone see all the "no calls" on him in the BCS game?

John Clement
John Clement

Bama's Achilles Heel was at right cornerback. Everytime an opponent needed a big play, they went there either by pass or reverse or whatever. The rest of the D was inexperienced from a starting point-of-view, but the real weakness was at one position. We'll be back. RTR

Ken DeRamus
Ken DeRamus

I beg to disagree here, actually the offensive production was better this year than last year. the defensive stats are much worse than last year.

The young defensive secondary gave up a few big plays that led to our losses this year.

cathy
cathy

It never seems to amaze me how people love to criticize Nick Saban wo has done an amazing job....his only flaw not getting the SEC to stop the excessive bye weeks that have been used to manipulate the outcome of the SEC champ. He is an "A" coach...definitely! Gene... oh my goodness with all that unethical crap swirling around the program and Milton McGregor (mobster) indicted and he built the Au sports center... and the questionable 1st down play in the Champ game for the AU win...let's keep it real ....anyone can cheat their way to the top... but it is sinking sand and lacks R-e-s-p-e-c-t... people don't really approve....Roll Tide we love you NIck....jealousy and cheaters let's keep them in check RTR...

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