Tuesday, August 7

The Smartest Coaches in the SEC

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#5 - Nick Saban - (Hat Tip - TIGERWALK)

Smarts ain't everything…In fact, you can go a long way without ‘em (see Dave Rowe), but they sure do help…Especially when your every move, action and word is dissected, analyzed and criticized by thousands of semi-high functioning and relatively powerful folks (the college fan) . Therefore, I put together my list of the Smartest Coaches in the SEC: Who is the best game-planner?...Who gets the most out of his talent?…Who surrounds themselves with the best and the brightest assistants?...Who knows when to hold their tongue and when to launch a well placed verbal assault.

All these factors ultimately translate into points on the scoreboard. When searching for the perfect coach, smarts can’t be ignored.

1. Steve Spurrier - South Carolina: Totally not dumb. Be it on the field, off the field or in a press conference, Spurrier is sharp as a tack. Never showing signs of weakness, he is revered for his innovative football mind and his scathing, smartass remarks. Especially when it comes to opposing schools…specifically UT and Phillip Fulmer. He may be an asshole, but he can back it up. Is there any other coach you'd rather play 18 or share a beer with? Or both. Step to this, I dare you.

2. Bobby Johnson - Vanderbilt: Johnson loses some brain power points for the taking a job at Vanderbilt when he could have held out for a school where scoring a bowl game isn’t akin to winning The Powerball. Otherwise, he's as smart as they come. He does more with less than any other coach in the SEC. He's developed some great unheralded talent (see 3 All-SEC First teamers for 2007) and made Vanderbilt that much less of a punch line. When you can beat talent-stacked Georgia in Athens, you're coaching some smart football. Sadly, I don't care if you're the Stephen Hawking of college football coaching, you're going to lose, and lose your ass at Vandy.

3. Tommy Tuberville – Auburn: Tuberville reminds me of Leo's character from Catch Me If You Can. He loves to outsmart his opponent. Throw them off with a little slight of hand and/or some trickeration. He's also smart enough to know that he can't (and doesn't really want to) do it all. He's been called a genius "CEO" because of the way that he has learned to delegates all the "busy work." He doesn't necessarily coach anything. In fact, he doesn't recruit much of anything either. He merely hires smart and sets his assistants up for success. Naturally he comes out smelling like sweet Kentucky bourbon...all while he’s getting bombed with the Mrs. on Lake Martin. Tuberville loses a few IQ points because he often times lets his ego steer the ship. Whiny public remarks and risky decisions have dotted his career, however throughout the tough times, Tuberville has remained ostensibly, slightly above board and out of the real hot water.

4. Urban Meyer - Florida: Winning a national championship doesn't automatically make you a genius (see: Cheaty Pants McSweatervest) but Urban is no slouch when it comes to football IQ. It takes a brave man to run the spread option offense, but it takes a pretty damn intelligent man to actually pull it off. Conceiving, comprehending and memorizing the spread option playbook is difficult, but teaching it and implementing it with the talent at hand is the real test. And after just one marginal season, Urban pulled it all off beautifully. Of course, it's a little easier to make great wine when you inherit land in Napa Valley. I’ve said before, recruiting NFL caliber talent to Gainesville is about as difficult as getting Katrina victims to cash FEMA checks. Oh yes…Meyer loses major points for crying and generally acting like a silly bitch when things don't go his way.

5. Nick Saban - Alabama: Don't confuse drive and charisma with brains. Nick’s certainly high functioning when it comes to X's and O's, but he never seems to learn from his mental lapses away from the field. More so than another other SEC coach, Nick allows his ego to drive the bus. (wonder why he left a great situation at LSU?) Nick seems to burn bridges at every stop. Be it with the football staff, the media, or the fans. Even so, Saban can certainly turn on the charm when needed: forced media interaction, lying, recruiting (See his cameo in The Blindside). Nick is advanced in many subjects, but he’s also remedial when it comes to sincerity, honesty and tact. While he surely views these character traits as gay and/or superfluous to coaching football, some polish might make life at The Capstone a little bit more tolerable. I for one hope he continues to be a major league dick bandit. Sure makes my “job” easier.

6. Mark Richt – Georgia: Saint Mark doesn’t get the respect he deserves. Especially after last season's craptasticness (losing to Kentucky AND Vandy). Some people seem to forget how Richt took a sleeping giant in UGA and brought it back to the verge of greatness (UGA was an afterthought in the 90's). How can I say UGA is on the verge after 2 SECs in 6 seasons? Well, ask me how many times Richt's beat Florida. um that'd be once. Look for Richt to be considered more than just “a nice guy” with “some success” if/when he reverses the Cocktail Curse. Otherwise, Mark has proven to be extremely wise in the ways of college football coaching: He’s got a great scheme, he gameplans well, and he doesn’t get caught up in dick measuring, ego b.s. that entraps so many other potentially great SEC coaches (See Tuberville and Saban). He just coaches solid ball, with all his ducks in a row, his ego in check and his fly securely zipped. Richt also wins the award for "Coach least likely to Cheat on his Wife." Just thought I'd throw that in there.

You guessed it…I wrote all that in order to justify my Dumbest Coaches In The SEC List…Numbers 7-12 should be coming soon. But don’t hold your breath.


  1. Welcome back!

    "He does more with less than any other coach in the SEC."

    Hmmm, I always say that about Nutt. To me, Nutt either has to be the smartest or dumbest coach in the SEC. Since Miles seems to be a favorite punching bag of yours, I'm guessing Nutt will be a close second in the dumbest category.

    Have you seen the supposed cover for Bama's media guide yet?

  2. TheUnknownStuntman6:52 AM, August 08, 2007

    As a Georgia fan, I have to say that your assessment of the Richt is about as accurate as any that I've ever heard or read.

  3. 2 things:

    1. It is "herban" meyer not Urban
    2. Jamaica is overrated or you did not got to Kingston. I think Kingston is in the top 5 murder capitols of the world

  4. 1. Jai, I didn't want to steal your "herban" thing. That's not classy.

    2. I grew up in Memphis, so I'm used to "Murder Capitals of the world." We didn't fly into Kingston, but Montego Bay is a close second. Jamaica is all about the resort. We had a great all inclusive resort, so we had a great trip. No need to leave. Except the fact that their ketchup and ranch dressing taste like ass (not that I know)