Alabama will play in the BCS Title game in Miami January 7th.The college football post season takes a break this week as many of the top jobs have been filled and most schools are in finals week. Beginning this weekend and next week teams will begin their preparations for the upcoming bowl games looking to find the right mix of preparation and fun on their trip. I had the opportunity to go to a few bowl games with the Sugar Bowl being the crown jewel of my playing career. As a player we had a lot of fun and spent most of our day after practicing in the morning sightseeing and being kids. We got beat up pretty good and lost to a team that was talented, but not better than we were (1991-Notre Dame). Our coach Steve Spurrier learned from that process and the next time we went to the Sugar Bowl in 1993 we had a better experience. I was a graduate assistant, and we had a much stricter and focused practice schedule. The team took the game more seriously and we won over an undefeated West Virginia team. The coaches set the tone and the players must buy in to the preparation. The practices prior to Christmas are usually more physical than the ones after the holiday.
One of the toughest things to do is rank the coaches in the SEC. The eight best coach in the league might be the 10th best coach in the country. Look at the jobs done this year by Hugh Freeze and James Franklin. I am not sure there were two better jobs in the country, but just for fun here is my top 14 based on current results.Saban is not only number one in the SEC, but also number one in college football.1. Nick Saban - Alabama. He is on top of his game and did his best coaching job this season.
2. Les Miles - LSU. Another 10 win season for the Tigers and dont forget he had injuriesdismissals to deal with.
3. Steve Spurrier - South Carolina. Back to Back 10 win season and he has beaten Georgia 3 in a row.
4. Mark Richt - Georgia. He has taken the Dogs to consecutive SEC Championship games, just needs to kick the door in.
5. Will Muschamp - Florida. He moves up the list with his 11 win season and adding Joker Phillips makes the staff even stronger.
6. Kevin Sumlin - Texas A&M. He may be the best road coach in the country. Sumlin wins 10 and coaches a Heisman winner his first season.
James Franklin has changed the culture in Nashville for Vandy.7. James Franklin - Vanderbilt. He has the leagues longest winning streak with six and has done an incredible job in Nashville.
8. Bret Bielema - Arkansas. He has won three straight big ten titles and is a terrific hire for the Hogs.
9. Hugh Freeze - Ole Miss. The Rebels could have easily won nine and he is a recruiting wizard in Oxford. He also beat Mississippi State which gives him the edge over Mullen.
10. Dan Mullen - Mississippi State. Very good coach who wins the games he is supposed to win. You hope State fans dont get tired of eight and nine win seasons.
Malzahn looks to turnaround Auburn.11. Gus Malzahn - Auburn. The Tigers now have an offensive identity now they just need to learn how to win. Malzahn brings a confidence and a swagger to the program.
12. Gary Pinkel - Missouri. Do you think Pinkel is looking for a new offensive coordinator if the
Tigers were still in the Big 12? Maybe Jim Chaney lands on his feet in Columbia.
13. Butch Jones - Tennessee. Jones is from the Brian Kelly coaching tree and has followed nicely in his footsteps. Not landing Tee Martin is his first recruiting loss, but that needs to be his last.
14. Mark Stoops - Kentucky. I love his hires on offense and defense and think the Wildcats have a shot. Can he recruit like he did at FSU and how will he be as a head coach?This and that
Florida adding Joker Phillips is strong for Will Muschamp and should give the Gators a boost at receiver. Phillips a long time receivers coach will only have five scholarship players in the spring unless Florida can get one or two early entry guys. I mentioned Jim Chaney to Missouri which to me makes a lot of sense. Chaney has had success and familiarity with the league and he runs an offense that uses a tight end. I have said many times that whether you throw to him or not you cannot be successful offensively in the SEC without a tight end. I had no problem with Tee Martins decision to stay at USC and people need to understand timing is everything. He just got there and likes the personnel and system he is coaching in. if you combine that with the fact that maybe he has a bigger voice in the USC offense than he may have in Tennessee and it makes a lot of sense. Tee is young and the opportunity to return may come around again someday. Recruiting is moving forward full steam ahead and here are (rivals.com) recruiting rankings at this time for the SEC.1. Florida
4. Texas A&M
7. South Carolina
9. Ole Miss
10. Mississippi State
The skinny - Texas A&M is having a great year not only for being in the SEC but also because of 10 wins. They land a five star wide receiver this week to go with their loaded group already. Vanderbilt is a strong sixth under James Franklin and ranks 14th nationally. They have a four star quarterback of the future in Johnathon McCrary out of Georgia. Floridas class is 3rd rated in the country and they currently have four wide receivers committed, including five star kid Ahmad Fullwood out of Jacksonville. Bret Bielema may not have a top ten class yet but he does have a four star running back in Kaleb Blanchard out of Texas. Alabama just keeps reloading with four offensive linemen already committed for this years class.