Ranking SEC football coaches: Who’s the most irritating?

Given that SEC football coaches have long had the capacity to rankle — remember Jackie Sherrill? Charley Pell? Tommy Tuberville? — you wouldn’t have thought one offseason could wreak so much havoc in the venerable league’s pecking order. Well, you’d have been wrong. Here’s the new world order among SEC mentors, ranked from least irritating to most:

12. Bobby Johnson, Vanderbilt. Everybody likes him. Even rival coaches like him. Except when they lose to him and his intramural team. Then they hate him for getting them fired.

11. Rich Brooks, Kentucky. The only nettling thing about Daddy Rich is that he’d pretty well convinced UK grads — full disclosure: I’m one — he was a lousy hire, whereupon he takes the Cats to three consecutive bowl games. Which means we geniuses were wrong. Geniuses hate being wrong.

10. Gene Chizik, Auburn. The only folks who seem to have a problem with G-Chiz are the Auburn people who can’t believe he’s their head coach.

9. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State. Just got to Starkville. Hasn’t done anything or said anything to rile anybody. (Unlike another newly minted SEC coach.) Doesn’t matter. He came from Florida, which means there has to be something objectionable about him.

8. Houston Nutt, Ole Miss. Arkansas fans hate him for leaving Fayetteville and turning around and beating the Hogs, but that’s what they get for demanding to see his text messages. Other recruiters are mad because he signed 37 players this spring, 12 above the presumed limit. I like him because he’s the only coach in the country about whom you can write, “He’s a certifiable Nutt,” and not be sued for libel.

7. Bobby Petrino, Arkansas. In any other conference, leaving one team the day after a game and showing up in a different time zone that night leading goofy cheers would make you the biggest irritant hands-down. In the SEC, it doesn’t even put you in the barrel’s bottom half.

6. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina. The Evil Genius seems benign and toothless in his new environs. It’s clear he’s not going to win anything of note with the Gamecocks, and the folks who used to cringe at his every utterance can now just ignore him. It’s sad, really. Kind of like seeing Willie Mays stumble in center field as a Met.

5. Mark Richt, Georgia. He’s a famously affable guy, but more and more he’s trying to have it both ways. He tried to pass off a season that began with his team ranked No. 1 and ended in the Capital One Bowl as a rousing success. He has also fallen into the trap that snared his former boss Bobby Bowden — espousing morality but seeming to tolerate misdeeds among his players.

4. Urban Meyer, Florida. Gets decency points for not getting into a spitting match when the new Tennessee coach called him a cheater. Loses decency points for those timeouts he burned against Georgia. Still, he has taken his second BCS title with a surprising amount of grace, especially for a hated Gator.

3. Les Miles, LSU. On the one hand, he has a sense of humor and uses the English language with a definite flair. On the other, his teams have won two Chick-fil-A Bowls by the aggregate score of 78-6 and tried three fake kicks in the second halves of those games. That’s low, Leslie.

2. Nick Saban, Alabama. Because he makes all that money. Because he wins big. Because he never smiles. Because he never sleeps. Because he’s Coach Satan.

1. Lane Kiffin, Tennessee. He thinks the way to win is to talk trash and recruit hard. If your record as a head coach was 5-15, you’d think that, too. But he has already frosted so many people — including some who work in his athletics department — that he’d better win big immediately or he’ll be gone by 2011. Which would be unfortunate. We in the South need to hang on to Li’l Kiffy. He’s the greatest villain since Spurrier sank his fangs into Ray Goff.

216 comments Add your comment

Max Sizemore

February 26th, 2009
7:45 am

Mark, you normally do a fine job on everything you write, but this one looks like you threw it together because you had to have something for the hated blog (and, because it was so far off, you knew people would take it seriously and there would be lots of responses). Saban No. 2 because he wins and makes big money? That’s all you got? My recollection on those fake kicks by Miles were that the games were not out of hand when they occurred (the guy’s a hoot, anyway). You’re right on Kiffin, of course, but how Meyer is not No. 2 is beyond me. Richt ahead of Spurrier? I think I’ll stop right there.

RAMBLE ON!!!

February 26th, 2009
8:18 am

Good article Mark, the coaches are irritating and the fans are obnoxious. Do you think the fans make them irritating?

I look forward to an article on who has the most obnoxious fans. I know, that’s a tough one, but that’s why you get paid the big bucks.

dt4c

February 26th, 2009
8:21 am

Seriously? Coach Richt “tolerates” misdeeds of his players? HTH can you ascertain that? GA punishes its players waaaaay beyond anyone else in the SEC. These are teenagers that are held up as idols by everyone they come in contact with including you. They deserve a firm hand but that doesn’t mean destroying their lives because of a bad decision. There should absolutely be no tolerance for DUI but the other alcohol offenses committed by UGA players last year were handled correctly and IMO somewhat too severely considering the culture that exists on ALL college campuses. Do you have or have you had teenagers? If you have then you know how difficult it is to fight the culture. As a parent, or a surrogate parent which today’s coaches have to be you just do the best you can to teach them right from wrong and to not over react when mistakes are made. The media may scream for blood, or say a team is “out of control” but the coach knows these kids and treats them like they are his own. He knows whether or not these kids are really bad kids or just normal kids making bad decisions. He does the best he can to correct and improve the kids lives. Until you walk in their shoes, try a little harder to understand.

David

February 26th, 2009
8:21 am

I think it’s hard to put a guy at No. 1 that hasn’t even coached a game in the SEC yet. He had his comments towards Meyer, yes, and they were certainly inappropriate. But to label somebody No. 1 who made one or two bad remarks over a guy that has made remarks and been a complete jerk with no sportsmanship during the games (Les Miles) is a bit ridiculous.

Mac

February 26th, 2009
8:37 am

Lame Kitten is hands down No. 1. I hope the real coaches in the SEC (meaning every one but him) hands him his @#% every game for the two winless seasons he lasts on Rocky Top.

Richt should be tied with Bobby Johnson.

Terrible Truth

February 26th, 2009
8:38 am

Too bad Tubby Tomerville isn’t still around, that stupid smirk he walked around with would have at least put him in the top two. That last line was hilarious! Spurrier was the red haired kid in “A Christmas Story” and Ray Goff was a composite of all the terrorized kids.

leland

February 26th, 2009
8:42 am

Dear Mr. MB–you put Kiffin at #1 because of your out-of-control envy over Layla. Your pal, Leland

Mark Bradley

February 26th, 2009
8:53 am

Dear Leland: I put Kiffin No. 1 on (de)merit, I’d like to think. Always a pleasure hearing from you, though.

AJC Lover

February 26th, 2009
9:13 am

Again – Sports writers at the AJC taking a shot at The University of Tennessee.

[...] Bradley’s value system, but all I can say is that anyone who can generate a list ordering the SEC coaches by level of irritation and rank Mark Richt as more irritating than Steve Spurrier really can’t expect to be taken [...]

Kiffin is the Man

February 26th, 2009
9:18 am

Once again the AJC gives another boost to the Kiffin Q Rating. UT can just farm out the football media guide to the AJC this season. It’ll give you guys some much needed work, and provide the most thorough coverage possible for a team 200 miles away.

newman

February 26th, 2009
9:20 am

It’s amazing you try and dock Urban Meyer points for the timeouts considering the competely disgraceful display of sportsmanship that UGA showed in their end zone dance the previous year…Also the only reason UGA fans or others find Urban Meyer irritating is because he beats them and wins titles, you guys would do backflips if he was your coach and accomplish the same things at your school…Sour grapes that’s all. FYI as well Mark Richt is WAY TOO high on this list. He should be #11 or #12.

Kiffin is a baffoon

February 26th, 2009
9:23 am

Too funny all these Vol fans think any press coverage of Kiffin is good or that in someway it means he will win games…A few years from now when you guys run him out of town for losing to UF, UGA, Bama, LSU and others in the SEC you will see how embarrassing this guy has been all along…

Drew

February 26th, 2009
9:24 am

You would think writing about this stuff all the time you could come up with something better than this. Spurrier before Richt? Richt tolerating misdeeds of players? He punishes them more than anybody. Tell me someone who is more strict than Richt!

Freehawk

February 26th, 2009
9:26 am

Mailed this one in. The Sports section today was embarassingly thin; a small town paper does better. An article that says AJ Green has gained a few pounds? You guys ought to be ashamed.

PTC DAWG

February 26th, 2009
9:27 am

Honestly, this is a goofy list. Why not list their winning percentage…but that would actually mean talking about how good of a Coach they actually are. Or might have taken you a little time in preperation/research. The stuff that passes off as columns these days can boggle the mind.

Capstone Report » Most irritating coaches

February 26th, 2009
9:30 am

[...] Who are the most irritating coaches in the SEC? Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution shares his thoughts today at AJC.com. [...]

GTJacket

February 26th, 2009
9:40 am

As much as people dog this list, I think its pretty accurate. I know people want to saint Richt, but he’s got his flaws like everyone else. Remember the bench clearing into the endzone against UF? That is why Urban called the timeouts. Do not, as a Georgia fan, sit on your golden thrown thinking you’ve done no wrong. All that being said, I saw Richt speak at the Wesley at UGA and he is a good man a strong Christian both of which I strongly admire.

buckblue

February 26th, 2009
9:41 am

The trouble with being a good sport is that you have to lose in order to prove it……

WHM

February 26th, 2009
9:43 am

Actually Mark, Auburn folks are pretty happy with Coach Chizik.

brewdawg

February 26th, 2009
9:44 am

Mark Richt at 5? I’m stunned. Nearly as much as when the Smoltz article came out. He loses points for the endzone celebration, and for going to the well once too many times with the Blackout. But he’s still the classiest coach in the country hands down. Has he ever said anything even remotely controversial regarding another team, coach, or player? Doesn’t every recruit talk about what a great man he is, whether they choose UGA or not? He’s so irritating that Rodney Garner turned down a very significant raise basically because he loved the values of the man he worked for. And how does he rank behind Steve “It’s not like we beat some big, powerful team” Spurrier?

Mark Bradley

February 26th, 2009
9:53 am

I know, I know. But what fun would it be for Georgia people if I ranked Richt 12th?

Bow Wow

February 26th, 2009
10:07 am

Richt is a hippocrate.

OZZFEST

February 26th, 2009
10:10 am

**As much I love the Dogs and HATE THE GATORS, Urban is the class of the SEC. Two titles, PERIOD. Richt has just been steamrolled. I remember the article in the AJC the day after Georgia beat LSU in the 2005 SEC Championship game annointing “RICHT AS THE NEW KING OF THE SEC”. We will be the 2nd place team in the East as long as Urban resides in Gainesville. Ugh!**

Mark Bradley

February 26th, 2009
10:13 am

Does that mean Richt took the Hippocratic Oath?

TommyP

February 26th, 2009
10:16 am

You struck out on this article, Mark.

It seems when I talk to opposing fans, they always say how they hate Georgia but not Richt.

Mark Bradley

February 26th, 2009
10:18 am

And here I heard Georgia fans were ready to fire Richt because he wouldn’t fire Willie Martinez.

Marsh

February 26th, 2009
10:27 am

Why does Meyer get brownie points for letting his AD do his whining for him?

Billy

February 26th, 2009
10:32 am

Spurrier’s not as bad in his old age, so now the “honor” goes to Urban Meyer. He just whines and complains about everything! But, it sounds like Lane Kiffin will be taking the top spot before too long. Hasn’t even coached a game yet, and he’s already breaking rules, making accusations, and pretty much ticking off everyone else in the SEC.

Big B CH 99

February 26th, 2009
10:37 am

Kiffin should be up close to # 1 b/c he’s just pissing everybody off, but Les should be at # 2, he’s one of the least classy coaches I’ve ever seen, he loves to try & run up the score, fake kicks in the 4th up by over 20 pts, & it sounds like its not the first time he’s done that. The big reason that everyone hates Urban & Saban is b/c they win big.

Petrino should be much higher than 7, he’s about as dis-loyal as it gets, I wonder if he’s already interviewed for another job, he probably did that the day after taking the Ark. job. I’m a die-hard Jackets fan and would have pulled for UGAy over Bobby, I can’t wait to see him come to Athens, he might need extra security, considering most UGA fans are Falcon fans on Sundays.

matt

February 26th, 2009
10:39 am

David-Kiffin is #1 because of the reason you already stated. He hasn’t coached a single game yet and he’s done nothing but stir the pot and talk $hit!!!

I’m a dawgs fan and I have no problems with Urban Meyer. He recruits speed and has the confidence to coach them up (I absolutely love that approach, seeing as how speed never slumps). He’s aggressive. His coordinators are agressive. He runs the score up because he understands that “style points” count, and he hardly ever loses a game he shouldn’t. His team takes care of business 9 out of 10 Saturdays and they usually look good doing it. He also coaches in the toughest confernence in the country. Can anyone say any of this about Richt and UGA????

Dawg97

February 26th, 2009
10:40 am

Mark, you are obviously just writing this column to get blog entries from what will soon be IRATE Georgia fans. The idea that Mark Richt is “more” annoying than Steve Spurrier and that Urban WHINER isn’t in the top2 (minimum – he’s #1 to me and the coach I most hate all time) SHOWS that you’re trying to piss off Bulldog nation and get responses. And I’m biting by responding to this insane drivel you call Journalism.

Urban WHINER wrote an entire book about himself (EGO is through the proverbial roof) and WHINED about Georgia’s 1 end zone celebration which Richt didn’t call for the whole team. You also conveniently leave out the fact that Meyer ran up the score a lot (especially this season) and not just the Georgia game. His worst offense…the Kentucky game, where the Gators, up by 58 points, brought Tebow out – throwing no less – in the 4th Quarter.

But you can sit here and say that pathetic and arrogant Urban Meyer is only one spot better than one of the classiest men ever in college football, Mark Richt? Yeah, Bradley, another typical column where you draw the ire of Bulldog nation. You and Terrence Moore. Same act.

DawginLex

February 26th, 2009
10:40 am

Richt getting caught in a trap like his mentor Bobby Bowden? Gave his heart to Christ, 2nd winningest coach in CFB history. His protege’(Richt) turned his life over to the Lord and is now one of the top coaches in CFB and runs a clean program and graduates his players.

Sign me up for that trap………

BTW, Spurrier will always be #1 on that list.

As far as the fans listing:

1.) Florida
2.) Tech

Everyone else is miles behind in obnoxiousness.

Too Easy

February 26th, 2009
10:45 am

GTJacket: Man, we HAD forgotten about the bench-clearing event. So THAT’S why Urban called timeouts. THANK YOU so much for reminding everyone. What insight. What value to the conversation. Thanks for keeping up with UGA.

ThaMan

February 26th, 2009
10:45 am

Urban whines about everything? How many National Championships does he have?

Happy Gilmore

February 26th, 2009
10:47 am

Mark Richt seems like a nice guy. I’m just sorry he
apparently thinks only black athletes can play the game. I think Utah proved differently in their game with Alabama.

Slobber

February 26th, 2009
10:47 am

DawginLex,

Graduates his players?? Are you serious? Knowshow, Stafford, Asher (no tackle) Allen….
Funny!

ThaMan

February 26th, 2009
10:47 am

DawginLex – what’s your buddy Lex’s last name?

Too Easy

February 26th, 2009
10:51 am

Slobber=Moron. How is that under Richt’s control? Let’s see: degree now or NFL $$$$$$$? Will you give Richt credit if they come back later and matriculate? You won’t, but that’s not under his control, either?

Popeye

February 26th, 2009
10:52 am

Richt is annoying!!!!! At least with Dooley when he was plastering goodness all over the wall you could see the twinkle in his eye saying how do you like this weeks fairy tale. Richt, I think, believes his tales??????

DawginLex

February 26th, 2009
10:56 am

The gradualtion rates for UGA since Richt has been there are FAR better than the rates under donnan, goff and Dooley. Those are facts.

To the personal attacker, I live in Lexington, KY you idiot.

DawginLex

February 26th, 2009
10:57 am

sorry, it’s graduation………..

TYPO

Mark Bradley

February 26th, 2009
10:58 am

On a personal level, I like Mark Richt. But I also like Les Miles, and Urban Meyer was nice enough to me when I spoke to him outside the Cobb Galleria back when. Heck, I even kind of like Bobby Petrino. (I know — that makes me an army of one.)

DawginLex

February 26th, 2009
10:58 am

anyone who calls himself “Thaman”, probably doesn’t need to try and make any gay references or jokes……………………..

Mark Bradley

February 26th, 2009
11:02 am

Now, now. Let’s keep this discussion on the erudite level to which we’ve become accustomed.

OhioDawg

February 26th, 2009
11:06 am

February must be the most frustrating month for sportswritwers as well as fans. The mere existence of this column is exhibit “A”, so you don’t lose points in my book. In fairness, you probably should have emphasized that there is very little correlation (and even less causation) between being an irritant and being a winner. John Woodens are hard to come by, but they exist – in pretty high numbers. Building character may be what you harp on when you lose, but kids usually put more stock in what they get from their coaches than they do in what they get from their parents. Personally, I’d just as soon have my kid model himself (or herself) after Mark Richt as anyone I can think of. Several of the others come close. After all, you don’t get to call yourself a Head Coach in the SEC without being very good at what you do – period. Or at least not for very long. I’ll reserve judgment on Kiffin for the moment, but he has started out with somewhat the air of a professional wrestler, hasn’t he?

Good Riddance

February 26th, 2009
11:12 am

” I know, I know. But what fun would it be for Georgia people if I ranked Richt 12th?” That swarmy response is the WHOLE reason that Bradley wrote this journalistic piece, to get under the skin of UGA fans. Congratulations Mark, great job. The demise of the AJC is on the horizon. It’s just a matter of time. Better freshen-up that resume.

Bamafan

February 26th, 2009
11:14 am

Boy Blunder is going to be the biggest idiot to try to coach at UcheaT in the last 50 years!! He remains of Ears Whitworth the worst football coach in the history of Alabama football. He won
4 games in three years and guess who replaced him the greatest college football coach of all time
Paul Bear Bryant!! Vols fans ran Phat Phil off for this village idiot and now UcheaT is the punch line
for a lot of jokes!! GO BAMA ROLL TIDE FROM THE GREAT MOVIE CRIMSON TIDE!!

DawginLex

February 26th, 2009
11:16 am

Sorry, got carried away. I still stand by my statement about graduation rates under Richt and that will be proven as those stats are released. Bottom line for me is if I had a kid who could play D-1 football, who would I want him to play for and Richt is at the top of that list. Spurrier is at the bottom…………………….

Mark Bradley

February 26th, 2009
11:18 am

No apologies necessary, DawgInLex. You’re an A-level poster, and your contributions are always welcome.