Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Final Countdown: 8

(This might be the best video yet. Just look at all the stage moves with the microphone.)

Number eight in the countdown brings us to our first “what if” scenario. Normally, I find these highly irritating because it usually involves an argument over a fictional game between a team that played in the ‘80s against a team from the ‘00s. There’s not much room for debate. The more modern team will win because players in college football (and all sports) are getting bigger, faster and stronger rather than smaller, slower and weaker. However, today’s “what if” scenario at the very least leaves room for some kind of debate.

Let’s say in the next eight days Houston Nutt decides he’s done with coaching football and will enroll in seminary for plexiglass podium preachers. After everyone associated with Ole Miss got finished crapping in their pants, we would realize we desperately needed a new coach. And let’s also say we were only allowed to replace him with a current SEC head coach. In what order would I want the other coaches of the SEC targeted by Pete Boone?

You can play this “what if” scenario with your team’s head coach, but for the purposes of this post, you’re going to read the Houston Nutt version (mainly because I don’t care about your team). And yes, this is just a sneakier way of ranking the coaches without really ranking them. Also, there are only eight candidates because obviously Nutt can’t be considered, and Mullen, Kiffin and Chizik are all first year coaches and I don’t want anything to do with those as I once noted here.

From last target to first target…

8. Bobby Johnson, Vanderbilt
I think this is pretty self-explanatory. If it involves Vanderbilt, it doesn’t really count. Except when your starting quarterback throws four interceptions in a loss the week before your team plays Florida.

7. Les Miles, LSU

I think my stance on Miles has been well documented in the past. But as a refresher for those who aren’t regular readers, Les Miles is the most overmatched and overrated coach in the SEC. Sure, he won at least 11 games in his first three years, which Nick Saban never did, but Nick Saban never had the talent Les Miles did. Miles inherited the talent Saban recruited, which helped overcome his coaching buffoonery. We saw the first major cracks begin to show in the Les Miles era last season and we’ll see large chunks start to fall of this season.

6. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina

There was once a time Spurrier would have been much higher on a list like this, but those days are over. It’s obvious his teams at South Carolina, which are now consistently competitive, don’t have the talent he once had at Florida, but there’s something else I just can’t identify. I’m not sure if it’s his team always lacking a quarterback, his passion for coaching is gone or maybe South Carolina is an impossible place to win more than seven to eight games consistently. Whatever the reason, watching the Gamecocks is not an enjoyable experience. They always seem sloppy (starting in 2005, they have finished 5th, 8th, 11th and 12th in turnover margin) and disjointed on offense (finishing 11th, 6th, 12th and 12th in rushing offense while finishing 5th, 4th, 3rd and 3rd in passing). Even as much as he liked to throw at Florida, he still found a way to have a running game. If I could figure out the problem was mostly being at South Carolina, maybe he would move up.

5. Bobby Petrino, Arkansas
The man may be shifty and always looking for a better deal, but he’s a pretty good offensive coach. Even with Casey Dick running the show last year, Arkansas managed to finish fourth in total offense. Now, those numbers might be a little inflated due to a defense that was the worst in the conference, but they’re still impressive. Since his main body of work took place in C-USA and the Big East and there’s always the lingering thought he will totally screw your program over, he’s not that high on the list. We’ll see how things are going in year three at Arkansas, assuming he’s still there.

4. Mark Richt, Georgia

I spent something like 2200 words explaining why Richt was the most mediocre coach in the SEC and don’t care to launch into that argument again. If you have a few extra hours, here’s what I had to say about him. And if you notice, he’s right in the meaty part of this countdown.

3. Rich Brooks, Kentucky
This one may be a surprise to many, but I think Brooks is a really good coach. He won at Oregon when no one else could win at Oregon (hell, he even won the Pac-10 in 1994). He’s turned Kentucky into a mildly competitive and occasionally feisty team, which hasn’t happened consistently at Kentucky since….I have no idea (Hal Mumme didn’t do it consistently). Plus, he loves to curse at everyone, which is always fun to watch on TV. I think I would thoroughly enjoy that part of the Rich Brooks era.

2. Urban Meyer, Florida

As much as I dislike him, wherever he goes, he wins. Bowling Green, Utah and Florida. I’m sure if he were my team’s head coach, I would really enjoy his smugness, the way he probably looks at himself in the mirror and his icy glares out at the field in which he pretends how jacked up he is. Plus, he might be able to find another Tim Tebow-like player, which would be nice.

1. Nick Saban, Alabama
Saban would be the first guy I’d want to target. He wins, he’s tough, he’s amazingly sarcastic and brutal with the media (although he’s tried to soften that recently), he recruits well, doesn’t put up with crap and I get the sense that while he certainly appreciates the fans, his dream would be to never have to interact with them. Granted, that may come from his dealings with the likes of LSU and Alabama fans, but I think he’s generally annoyed with anyone who isn’t involved in football. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy a coach who calls out his players in the media without actually calling them out? Remember his rant on his offensive line earlier this month?

"We don't have a starting offensive line. We don't have any starters on the offensive line. Not one. So we have five spots that are up. You keep asking about one. We don't have any. We don't have a depth chart. So how can we be worrying about that one spot? So you can speculate any way you want, but I really don't know. I'm telling you the God-awful truth. I don't really know."

I could get used to hearing that all the time.

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