After SEC coaches gave the SEC Coach of The Year award to Missouri’s Gary Pinkel, we decided that it was high time to rank the SEC coaches in terms of their job for this year. In advance: Will Muschamp didn’t win.

1) Dan Mullen (Mississippi State)

We thought he was joking when he said Mississippi State would compete for a SEC title this year. Well, it did. And a play-off berth. And they went to Tuscaloosa and played Alabama hard. And beat Auburn. And went to LSU and won for the first time in years. And had a No.1 spot. And had Heisman contender in Dak Prescott. The cowbells are still clanging in our eardrums. Oh, and the 10-2 record wasn’t bad easier. Seriously, Mullen’s job was nothing short of exceptional. We can’t wait to see what Mississippi State’s going to be like in, er, four years time (when he’s got another fantastic senior class).

2) Bret Bielema (Arkansas)

You might joke, but we expected the Razorbacks to have another SEC 0-fer this year. But they didn’t. Sure, they had their moments. They lost heartbreakers to Texas A&M and Alabama (particularly the A&M game, which we really thought they should have won), and played Mississippi State close. The 2-6 SEC record belies how good this Razorbacks team was this year. Can’t wait for 2015.

3) Hugh Freeze (Ole Miss)

Ole Miss had a season where they beat Alabama and beat Mississippi State and didn’t win the SEC West. That’s because Ole Miss had huge injuries that derailed their season – especially to WR Laquon Treadwell and LB Denzel Nkemdiche. And some headache moments from Bo Wallace didn’t help, either. But this was an awesome season for Ole Miss…and a great job to rebound from a horrible Arkansas loss to win the Egg Bowl. Oxford is in good hands.

4) Gary Pinkel (Missouri)

After losing a ton of defensive talent in 2013, we weren’t expecting anything from Missouri this year. But Missouri ended up winning the SEC East and going to the SEC Championship Game. Everyone’s going to talk about the Indiana loss and the horrible home loss to UGA, but they should also remember sterling battles at South Carolina and Texas A&M, where they came away with unexpected victories. And Missouri’s defense? Yeah. No worries there.

5) Mark Stoops (Kentucky) 

The turnaround in Kentucky has been incredible. If I told you last year that the Wildcats would beat South Carolina, take Florida to triple-overtime and have a shoot-out with Louisville, would you have believed me? Well, believe me. It happened. This is a fantastic turnaround in Lexington, and we can’t wait for further improvement in 2015.

6) Nick Saban (Alabama)

 

After the Ole Miss loss and poor game at Arkansas, it would be easy to be critical of Alabama – particularly with all the talent that Nick Saban gets year after year to come to Tuscaloosa. But Saban has rebounded, and his teams have looked nigh-on unstoppable, especially offensively. The hire of Lane Kiffin made a mockery of us. Let’s be honest: Saban’s a brilliant coach right now, and that’s why the Crimson Tide should win the title this season.

 

7) Butch Jones (Tennessee)

Got granted a monster extension by the Vols almost as soon as the season finished, helped by the fact that Tennessee showed that it’s going to be an exciting prospect in 2015. This team – which is really young all over the offense – is really talented. Especially at receiver. We can’t wait.

8) Gus Malzahn (Auburn)

Great offense, but horrific defense that didn’t get any better during the season. The Tigers WOULD have beaten Alabama this year had they converted three quarters of their red zone chances in the first half, but they didn’t. Their losses to Texas A&M and Georgia were simply laughable. They’ll be fine in 2015, but it’s fair to say that we were disappointed with their 4-4 SEC record.

9) Mark Richt (Georgia)

Considering the arrest/dismissal-related losses that Richt had in the off-season and the injury to Todd Gurley DURING the season, Georgia actually did pretty well. The reason why Georgia’s so low is that Georgia has got a lot of talent but always seems to disappoint with a couple of horrible losses. South Carolina and Florida were this year’s Georgia-ing.

10) Kevin Sumlin (Texas A&M)

A great win against South Carolina was followed by months of horror until the surprise win at Auburn. Otherwise, Texas A&M was nothing special this year. And the defense was simply ‘nothing’. The best two decisions of Sumlin’s season were to fire DC Mark Snyder, and to boot Kenny Hill from the starting job mid-season when things weren’t working well. But if this 3-5 SEC season becomes a habit – despite all the talent that’s coming into College Station – expect the whispers about Sumlin’s job to become roars.

11) Les Miles (LSU)

The Tigers gave us the BIG VICTORY this season when they upset Ole Miss at night in Baton Rouge, but the Tigers also gave us the BIG LOSS when they were upset by Mississippi State. They also gave us THE TYPICAL LES MILES SCREW UP against Alabama when a kick-off went out of bounds, starting the Crimson Tide on the 40. Oh, and when is Les Miles going to recruit a quarterback – because Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris were AWFUL this year. And that’s down to coaching.

12) Steve Spurrier (South Carolina)

After the Gamecocks were blown out by Texas A&M on the first day of the season, it was obvious that the team had no defensive heart. And despite the Georgia victory, that was true all the season through. Big play was given up over and over again. And on the other side of the ball, Dylan Thompson was probably one of the biggest quarterbacking disappointments in college football this year. Steve Spurrier did not help his own team by his own brutal honesty, when he kept telling the media how bad his team was. And if your coach isn’t doing any cheerleading, what can you expect from the team?

13=) Will Muschamp (Florida)

RIP, Will Muschamp. Despite flattening Georgia, having a couple of close losses, and having a pretty darned good defense,  your offense got you fired, and rightly so. Now go be a defensive co-ordinator.

13=) Derek Mason (Vanderbilt)

Mason was a fish out of water in the SEC this year, and still looks like a terrible hire. Listen, Vandy fans are still behind Mason, but if next season’s as bad as this one, the Commodores should fire him and start again. Because even those trust fund babies that go to that school in Nashville deserve a bit of pride.

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