Ranking The SEC Football Coaches

If you’re one of the estimated 17 million people (note: may not reflect actual estimates) who perused my now defunct Razorback blog, you may remember that I wrote an equation to rank football coaches. The idea was to take out the human element, and just assign a value based on nothing but results. Winning and going to bowls is important in my formula, BCS championships and final rankings more important, and consistency in success most important.

This will be the third edition of this breakdown by the numbers. Some trends have borne out through the numbers over these first three years. Mark Richt has remained in front of championship-winning coaches due to his steady hand at Georgia, Bobby Petrino has consistently gotten better, Houston Nutt has gotten consistently worse, and Urban Meyer has consistently quit after the season, making it hard to quantify anything.

Florida and Vanderbilt will not have representatives on this list, as the coaches of those schools have yet to perform as head coaches in big boy football. Conference victories are not weighted for strength of conference in years coached, non-D1A (FBS, if you’re nasty) seasons are not factored in, there is no weight given to division championships, the ranking reflects a picture of the career as a whole instead of just the most recent successes, and I got all of my numbers from Wikipedia, so there’s some disclaimers before you start griping about the placement of any of these coaches. If you don’t like the rankings, make your own stupid formula.

The equation and legend are at the bottom in case you’re as nerdy as me. 100 is the maximum score possible, though Urban Meyer and Nick Saban have both seemingly maxed out well under 50. You would, after all, have to win every game and every BCS title to reach a rating of 100.

Without any furtherer further ado, I present to you the current SEC head football coaches, ranked according to the Hurtt Coach Index Rating (HCIR).

1.) Nick Saban, Alabama, HCIR: 41.46
No-brainer. Saban has taken two programs (Bammer and LSU) to national titles, and has repeatedly improved programs drastically in his time there. He would actually have a much better score if not for the fact that he’s taken over programs in the doldrums at nearly every stop. After all, if you’re flat weighing results on the field as your sole indicator of success, rebuild years count just as much as years where you walk into NFL-ready programs. But we’ll get to Les Miles in a second.

2.) Mark Richt, Georgia, HCIR: 40.85
The annual Helen-Hunt-in-the-ointment, Richt continues to kick butt in this ranking year after year, despite having no national titles in a conference sick with them. Again, though, the equation rewards consistency highly. Richt is the only coach in the SEC today with more than one year of experience who has been in a bowl game every year he’s coached, and he has finished ranked 80% of the time. A repeat of the year the Dawgs just had could damage the ginger one, but for now he remains at the top when judged by the bigger picture of his career as a whole to this point.

3.) Les Miles, LSU, HCIR: 38.95
Yes, he’s insane, and perhaps not self-aware. Yes, he eats grass. No, I do not understand anything he says. And yes, he has literally no idea how a game clock works. But Les Miles has a national championship, a Sugar Bowl win, 9 bowl appearances with 6 wins in 10 years as a head coach, and 4 top-10 finishes (3 top-5) in 6 seasons as the head man at LSU. Whatever Satan is getting out of this, he’s getting screwed. Either way, the numbers is what the numbers is, and the ranking do what the ranking do. I don’t find Les Miles to be a terribly good coach, but the man has certainly found a way to produce wins with rosters full of blue-chip recruits, somehow.

4.) Steve Spurrier, S. Carolina, HCIR: 37.80
Repeat after me – “The rankings are big-picture, the rankings are big-picture, the rankings are big-picture”. Stevie Superior hasn’t done as much lately, though anyone who takes the Gamecocks to Atlanta in December can obviously coach. What he has done, however, is a national championship (at Florida), 16 bowl games (mostly at Florida), 2 BCS game wins in 3 tries (Flori-dang), took Duke to a bowl game, and helped destroy the Washington Redskins. Put that man in the Hall! Columbia is basically a place good coaches go to make you forget that they’re any good, but Spurrier even seems to be succeeding there. Weird.

5.) Bobby Petrino, Arkansas, HCIR: 34.44
The Head Hog, Bobby Petrino is one of three coaches (Saban, Meyer) to take two different schools to the BCS. Petrino wasn’t able to capitalize on the most recent trip to the Sugar Bowl, but he continues to raise his score as he improves the Razorback program. Petrino’s first season at Arkansas is the only he has failed to achieve postseason play in, and he is one of an incredible 6 SEC coaches with wins in BCS games. Petrino’s placement on this list speaks to the objectivity of the system, as I would have personally ranked him #1 even if we were including religious figures and the coaches from Necessary Roughness and The Program.

6.) Gene Chizik, Auburn, HCIR: 33.51
How does the coach of the reigning national champion finish 6th in a ranking of the coaches in his own conference? He was 13-24 in 3 years coming into the dream season, had yet to finish .500 or better in-conference as a coach, and maybe the equation somehow knew that Chizik rode a bought QB and genius OC to a national title while his supposed specialty (defense) sucked like life on the plains of Alabama. Not much deeper to go on this – Chizik was the worst coach in America for 2 years, and automatically became a genius when he moved to Auburn. If he remains a genius for long, he’ll continue to move up these rankings…believe me, 6th is A LOT better than where he was placing in years prior.

7.) Houston Nutt, Ole Miss, HCIR: 22.50
And now, we reach the dregs. Houston Nutt is the Anti-Saban, winning big with what is left to him and then floundering through the results of his own program-building. But that is neither numbers-based nor dispassionate, so let’s see what the system saw – in 13 years as a coach at this level, Houston Nutt has 4 bowl wins, 4 winning conference records, and 5 seasons finishing ranked (never higher than 14th). He’s also lost to Jacksonville State and is 0-3 all-time at home against Vanderbilt, but those don’t factor in with any kind of special weight. It’s just really, really, REALLY funny.

8.) Dan Mullen, Mississippi St, HCIR: 22.18
It seems ridiculously unfair to put Mullen here with the current cowbell trajectory and his dominance of the guy right above him, but it is what it is. State was scorched Earth when Mullen arrived, and the process is slow. I look at Mullen like Petrino-minus-a-year, so I expect him to climb considerably moving forward. In two years at the worst program in the West (in the best era for the West), Mullen already has a top-15 finish and a dominant bowl win.

9.) Joker Phillips, Kentucky, HCIR: 17.12
One season, one bowl loss. That’s about it.

10.) Derek Dooley, Tennessee, HCIR: 16.79
Four seasons, two bowls. Oh, and he waded through Lane Kiffin’s cesspool of a legacy to reach a bowl with highly lacking talent. Too bad the separation at this level of the rankings is arbitrary at best, but Dooley worked a 17-20 record at Louisiana Tech into a gig coaching one of the top 20 programs in college football history, so…too bad.

To avert the possibility of FOI’s, here is the formula –

HCIR = 10*{[(w/g)+(o/c)]+[(b+s+3n)/y]+[(25l+25i+f)/25t]}


g = games coached
w = games won
c = conference games coached
o = conference games won
b = BCS game appearances
s = BCS game wins
n = National Championships won
y = seasons coached during bcs era
t = total seasons coached
l = bowl games coached
i = bowl games won
f = final ranking total*

* final ranking total is found by taking a final ranking for a season and subtracting it from 26 (making a #1 ranking worth 25, a #25 ranking worth 1, and an unranked team worth nothing), and adding them up for all seasons coached.

originally posted on http://tjcarpentershow.com

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