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College football preview: Ranking the SEC coaches

Kevin Sumlin all smiles
Kevin Sumlin all smiles
Getty Images

Every week we are going to display the new conference rankings. As we enter the summer session, college football is roughly three months away. In our first ranking installment, we are presenting the top SEC coaches list.

Every one of the positions are up for debate, and we're always interested in hearing what you have to say.

Another conference finally won the BCS championship, and now we enter the land of the four team playoff. There's quite a bit of new blood in the SEC coaching ranks and there seems to be a changing of the guard. Trust us, we will know a lot more by the end of the 2014. Most of the top teams lost their starting quarterback, so they'll be starting anew.

Let's take a look at the SEC coaching rankings.

1. Gus Malzahn: Gus Malzahn shows up at Auburn as offensive coordinator and the Tigers win a national championship. He leaves and the Tigers offense suffers dramatically. That's the story on Malzahn. In his first year as Auburn's head coach, he brought the Tigers within a possession of winning the last BCS title. There's no doubt, he is the cream of the crop in the SEC entering 2014. In two seasons as a head coach, Malzahn has a (21-5) record.

2. Nick Saban: Nick Saban had the most interesting call in the 2013 college football season. It backfired spectacularly. With the SEC championship game on the line, Alabama went for an improbable win, but came up way short. Did the leader of Alabama panic under pressure, or was this just a blip on the radar? It's a big season in Tuscaloosa. Nick Saban is (79-15) as the Alabama coach.

3. Steve Spurrier: Steve Spurrier lost the No.1 draft pick and their starting quarterback. Still we expect to see South Carolina vying for the SEC East title come November. If he gets there, it will be one of his best coaching jobs. The Gamecocks have had three straight (11-2) seasons. Spurrier is (77-39) as South Carolina coach.

4. Les Miles: Hint: Les Miles is not really weird. There's just a brilliant method to his madness. The Tigers will also be breaking in a new quarterback and receivers. They'll have a strong running game to rely on as well. We know the LSU defense should be better this season. Miles is (95-24) as LSU head coach.

5. Kevin Sumlin: Offensively, Kevin Sumlin has had the Aggies rolling. Now they have to do it without Johnny Manziel and plethora of skill position players. Can the defense be better? Like they were really bad. Historically bad last season. In two seasons as the Aggies head man, Sumlin is (20-6).

6. Mark Richt: The Georgia Bulldogs entered last season as a title contender. Then injuries curtailed the teams offense at every position. Richt did a good job of keeping things together, but he needs another solid year with Gurley as the offensive leader. Mark Richt is (126-45) as the Bulldogs head coach.

7. Gaty Pinkel: Pinkel answered his detractors with a strong second season in the SEC. Missouri played for the SEC championship against Auburn. Now they have to build on that season with another strong campaign. How will he handle the loss of a lot of major contributors? Gary Pinkel is (102-63) as Missouri head coach.

8. Butch Jones: In his first season, Tennessee had a rough stretch, but you could see the Volunteers getting better each game. They were (5-7) but did have a win over South Carolina. We expect a huge win increase by Tennessee this season. Let's see if Butch lives up to potential.

9. Hugh Freeze: In two seasons as Ole Miss head coach, Freeze has gone (15-11). Can he finally have a breakout season to win double digit games? Ole Miss has to show up in the biggest games.

10. Bret Bielema: After going (8-5) in his final season at Wisconsin, Bret Bielema started his Arkansas career with a (3-9) record. He's the one coach that needs a quick turnaround. Ready or not, Arkansas needs to show a lot of improvement.

11. Mark Stoops: The word is Stoops is stockpiling talent at Kentucky, but they aren't quite ready to win big yet. He's coming off of a two win season, so if they get to six wins, there will be a huge party going on.

12. Dan Mullen: Mississippi State has been in the middle of the pack since Dan Mullen arrived. He's (36-28) as the head coach, and this is a big season coming up. Thanks to Ole Miss, there is even more pressure in the SEC West.

13. Will Muschamp: Will Muschamp had the most disappointing season in college football. For every picturesque scowl, there was an offensive blunder by the Gators. After riding the wave to an (11-2) season, Florida succumbed to injuries and bad play to fall to (4-8). Muschamp has a chance to redeem himself in 2014. He has a (22-16) record in three seasons for the Gators.

14. Derek Mason: By default, Derek Mason falls to the last on the list. He was the man behind the dominant Stanford defenses of recent past. Mason will attempt to bring that same tenacity to the Vanderbilt defensive unit. Still he has a lot to live up to with Vanderbilt's rising program.

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