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SEC Football: Ranking the 25 Best Coaches in Conference History

SEC Football: Ranking the 25 Best Coaches in Conference History

SEC Football: Ranking the 25 Best Coaches in Conference History

Since its founding in 1932, the SEC has fielded some of the best teams in college football history and has been the home to plenty of head coaches who are members of the College Football Hall of Fame. As difficult as it may be to rank the 25 best in the conference's rich history, here's an attempt to do so. These rankings are based on a head coach's body of work in the SEC (when their school was a member), so success at other programs or before the conference was formed does not count.

25. Kirby Smart

Georgia (2016-present)

Record: 52-14

SEC Titles: 1

Division Titles: 3

Bowls: 5

Losing Seasons: 0

After winning four national titles as a defensive coordinator at Alabama, Smart became the head coach at Georgia in 2016. In just his second season, the Bulldogs barely lost the national title to the Crimson Tide. Smart has since led Georgia to four straight top-10 finishes.

24. Dan Mullen

Mississippi State (2009-17)

Florida (2018-present)

Record: 98-55

Division Titles: 1

Bowls: 11

Losing Seasons: 2

In 2014, Mullen led Mississippi State to the top ranking, which the Bulldogs held for four weeks. That's the only time Mississippi State has held the No. 1 spot. Mullen has also won the SEC East in 2020 at Florida.

23. William Alexander

Georgia Tech (1933-44)*

Record: 85-54-5

SEC Titles: 3

Bowls: 4

Losing Seasons: 4

Alexander took over for John Heisman in 1920 and won three SEC titles after the Yellow Jackets joined the conference in 1933. He also won a national championship in 1928 while Georgia Tech was in the Southern Conference.

22. Tommy Tuberville

Ole Miss (1995-98)

Auburn (1999-2008)

Record: 110-60

SEC Titles: 1

Division Titles: 5

Bowls: 10

Losing Seasons: 3

Tuberville was named SEC Coach of the Year twice, at Ole Miss in 1997 and at Auburn in 2004. His 2004 Tigers went 13-0 and finished ranked second in the country. The squad missed out on the opportunity to play USC for the national title because of the BCS rankings and remain one of the best teams in college football history to not get a shot at a championship. After coaching at Texas Tech and Cincinnati, he was elected a U.S. Senator from Alabama in November 2020.

21. Allyn McKeen

Mississippi State (1939-48)

Record: 65-19-3

SEC Titles: 1

Bowls: 1

Losing Seasons: 0

In 1941, McKeen won the only SEC title in Mississippi State history. He retired in 1948 with a career .747 winning percentage.

20. Doug Dickey

Tennessee (1964-69)

Florida (1970-78)

Record: 104-58-6

National Championships: 1

SEC Titles: 2

Bowls: 9

Losing Seasons: 3

Dickey turned around a fledgling Tennessee program and his 1967 team won the Litkenhous national championship. In 1970, he went back to his alma mater of Florida and became the first coach to lead the Gators to four straight bowl appearances.

19. Pat Dye

Auburn (1981-92)

Record: 99-39-4

SEC Titles: 4

Bowls: 9

Losing Seasons: 2

After going 5-6 his first season, Dye's Tigers went to nine straight bowls, won four SEC titles, and finished in the top 10 five times. Oh, and they also beat Alabama six times during that run.

18. Paul Dietzel

LSU (1955-61)

Record: 46-24-3

National Championships: 1

SEC Titles: 2

Bowls: 3

Losing Seasons: 2

He only spent seven seasons in Baton Rouge, but during that time, Dietzel won two SEC titles and a national championship in 1958. He left for Army in 1962 and finished his coaching career at South Carolina (1966-74) when the Gamecocks were still members of the ACC (before becoming an Independent in 1971).

17. Wally Butts

Georgia (1939-60)

Record: 140-86-9

National Championships: 1

SEC Titles: 4

Bowls: 8

Losing Seasons: 7

Butts deployed the passing game in an era where many teams scoffed at the idea of throwing the pigskin. His Bulldogs had their best run in the 1940s, winning three SEC titles and the 1942 national championship.

16. Charles McClendon

LSU (1962-79)

Record: 137-59-7

SEC Titles: 1

Bowls: 13

Losing Seasons: 1

"Cholly Mac" had the misfortune of coaching in the same era of Alabama's Bear Bryant and Ole Miss' Johnny Vaught, but LSU was a force in the conference during his 18-season career.