Alabama Football: The best and the worst SEC football coaches


It is a foregone conclusion Alabama football coach, Nick Saban is the SEC’s best head coach. Let’s consider who is the worst.

The almost universal acclaim Nick Saban receives as the Alabama football head coach includes being considered the SEC’s best. Which coaches live at the other end of the SEC coaching spectrum? Let’s consider who is the worst SEC head coach.

There is no need for a recounting of all the Nick Saban achievements to prove he is the SEC’s best head coach. The Alabama football living legend is rightfully considered as perhaps college football’s greatest of all-time. No other SEC head coach is considered a GOAT, other than some arcane measurement such as the Luckiest of All-Time.

Several SEC head coaches do not have long enough Power Five tenure to fairly rate them on the worst scale. Therefore, we will exclude Jeremy Pruitt, Chad Morris, Joe Moorhead, Derek Mason, Matt Luke, Kirby Smart and Barry Odom.

That leaves six coaches to consider: Dan Mullen, Mark Stoops; Jimbo Fisher; Will Muschamp; Ed Orgeron and Gus Malzahn. Each coach on the list has been a Power Five head coach for at least five seasons.

We will consider the relative demerits of each coach and work our way down to a runner-up worst and finally our SEC-worst, current head coach. Some data will be cited but any appearance this effort being objective is purely coincidental.

Jimbo Fisher

The $75 million dollar man has no place on a worst list. He won a national championship with FSU in 2013. His eight-season FSU record was 83-23 for a win rate of 78.3 percent. Fisher’s post-season record in bowl games and the BCS championship is 6-2. His FSU teams won three ACC championships. Fisher’s only demerit is he has never been a head coach of an SEC team.

Dan Mullen

Dan Mullen has been a gradually rising star since he left his Florida assistant gig and became the head coach of Mississippi State. He coached the Bulldogs to a 69-46 record in nine seasons. His Mississippi State bowl record was 5-2. He is expected to have even more success as the new Florida head coach. His one lone demerit is a big one. As a head coach, he is 0-9 against Alabama football.

Will Muschamp

Will Muschamp has had some success in his six seasons as a head coach. His 2012 Florida team was 11-2. In just his second year with South Carolina, the Gamecocks were 9-4 in 2017. Overall his head coaching record is 43-32. His biggest demerit is his last two seasons at Florida, the Gators lost 13 games.

Mark Stoops

Mark Stoops five season Kentucky record is 26-36. Put into Wildcats football context, that is not a horrible record. Going back to 1985, the Wildcats have won eight games in a season only twice. Rich Brooks did it in 2006 and 2007. Otherwise, Kentucky football seasons are effectively over about the time of Wildcats’ Midnight Madness basketball. Kentucky won three straight bowl games before Brooks retired. Since then the bowl record is three losses – one by Joker Phillips and two by Mark Stoops. Biggest demerit for Stoops is he coaches at Kentucky.

Runner-Up for worst coach – Gus Malzahn

The former ‘offensive genius’ Malzahn has an Auburn head coaching career defined by inconsistency. For those thinking we are being unfair to Gus, consider the following. Without two improbable miracles in 2013, Malzahn would be 2-9 against Auburn’s two biggest rivals. On top of that, Gus is winless on the road in his career against Alabama football, Georgia and LSU.

In his five seasons at Auburn, Gus has averaged 4.4 losses per season. His bowl record (including the 2013 BCS game) is 1-4. For a program whose recruiting classes are in the top 10 almost every season, the Malzahn era at Auburn is defined by two things – bizarre luck and consistent under-performance.

Worst performing SEC coach – Ed Orgeron

Awarding the ‘worst head coach performance’ is akin to kicking a man when he is down. Pretty much the only person who could not predict Coach O’s ineptitude was LSU athletic director, Joe Alleva.

Counting the two eight-game, interim roles at USC in 2013 and LSU in 2016, Orgeron’s head coach record is 31-33. Louisiana is a football-rich state. Except for constant raiding by Nick Saban, LSU has no strong competition for Louisiana players. Excluding quarterback deficiencies, the LSU roster is deep with talent every season.

Coach O has a respectable LSU record of 15-6, but look at last season’s 9-4 record. The Bengal Tigers only got to nine wins with a late three-game win streak. Those wins came against depleted and demoralized teams – Arkansas, Tennessee and Texas A&M. Those three teams were so down, each of them fired the head coach after the season.

Coach O can recruit, though his head-up success against Nick Saban has been minimal. He just is not head coach material and his weaknesses are made worse by the most inept AD in the SEC.

LSU always has a chance in Baton Rouge but in November 2018, the Bengals Tigers will likely lose an eighth straight game to Alabama football.

Next: Worst All-time Coach performance against the Tide

The link above is from a year-old post. Most of the coaches listed are either retired or dead. A couple racked up another loss to the Tide in the 2017 season.