5. Dan Mullen, Florida
It’s not like Mississippi State was burning it up before he took over the job in 2009, and then came the great run at a time when the SEC West was at its strongest. It was time to take a step forward, and that’s what Florida is. Now he has to go from coaching competitive and solid bowl-winning teams to cranking up national championship-level ones.
– Preview 2018: Bringing Back The Fun
4. Gus Malzahn, Auburn
Can he ever be safe in his gig? He deserves to be. He has already proven himself with two SEC West titles, a conference championship, and a few huge wins over Alabama. However, after being one win away from – most likely – going to the College Football Playoff, is that good enough to forget the 23-16 three-year run before that? Not if he has a fourth five-plus loss season in five years.
– Preview 2018: The CFP Player Again
3. Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M
It might have been a tough end at Florida State, but he’s a made man as one of just four head coaches going right now with a national championship on the resume. He can recruit, he can coach up teams to a title level, and he’s still a relatively young 52. Texas A&M is investing in the guy who went 78-18 with three ACC titles and the BCS Championship before last year’s clunker.
– Preview 2018: $75 Million Chance On Greatness
2. Kirby Smart, Georgia
That’s how you make a debut. You go from being a top-shelf coordinator to outrecruiting just about everyone to take Georgia from very good to within an overtime of winning the national title in just two years. He might have done it with a whole lot of Mark Richt’s players, but with his first few recruiting hauls, the talent level is even better now and the expectation level is at SEC Championship or bust – with a College Football Playoff national title or three along the way.
– Preview 2018: Just The Beginning
1. Nick Saban, Alabama
Go back to his days at LSU, and he has won six national titles, with seven SEC championships in one of the epic runs by any coach in college football history.
What he’s doing at Alabama is impossibly unfair in terms of expectations, winning ten games or more in the last ten seasons and only losing more than one regular season game – not counting SEC championships – once along the way.
To make what he’s doing even crazier, he’s a kick-six against Auburn and a pick play by Clemson from probably winning six national titles in the last seven seasons and seven in the last nine.
And now he’s got a team good enough to be in everyone’s preseason top two. The Process doesn’t stop.
– Preview 2018: Because It’s Bama