Loathe (verb): To feel intense dislike for.
Loathability (noun): The quality or state of inviting others to loathe.
College football's offseason is drawing to a merciful close. This means certain things. It means no more spending my weekends doing things other than sitting on the couch watching Uncle Verne and Gary telestrate. It means that I'm done marking things off my honey-do list which were pushed down the itinerary by such pressing matters as the 2012 Vanderbilt/Kentucky game and the CarQuest Bowl. It means staying up until the wee hours of the morning to watch San Diego State/Hawaii because I can and if I don't Brock Huard's mother will be the only one watching, and I don't want her to be lonely.
It also means that it's time to start gearing up for the 2013 season. Oh you can go anywhere else on the internet for a preview of the teams, the preseason All -Conference and All-American teams. Heck, we've even done a fair amount of previewing ourselves in these past few weeks.
But only here at Dawg Sports will you find a thorough and sifting review of the SEC's coaches from a likeability standpoint. Because if you're like me, coach likeability is one of the deciding factors in figuring out how to view a given college football game. If the outcome of the game has no significance in conference or national standings for my Georgia Bulldogs, I am more than willing to root against a team for the sole reason that I find their coach to be, from a distance, a smarmy S.O.B. So here they are. Dawg Sports' ranking of the SEC coaches from 1 to 14 based not on acumen, talent, height or quotability, but instead on pure, generally undeserved, partisan hatred.
14) Les Miles: I'm pretty sure it's impossible to really loathe Les Miles. Sure he's taken part in some borderline roster shenanigans. And he was at the helm for one of the most heartbreaking losses I've ever witnessed in Sanford Stadium, and an SEC Championship Game in 2011 that was only made better by the fact that so many of the wounds were self-inflicted.
But I love the wacky bastard anyway. He speaks in riddles and climbs buildings with beauty queens and staggers through life half-cocked and crotch-first in a manner usually only becoming for WWII spies and 1960's movie stars. Can you swear that Les Miles is not currently sitting in a naked drum circle with Beyonce, Mario Batali, the model from that Robin Thicke Blurred Lines video, and Benjamin Netanyahu? Of course you can't. The odds of this happening at any given moment in human existence are 50/50 or better. And that's why everyone who isn't an LSU fan wishing for normalcy, sanity, and predictability rightfully refuses to loathe Senor Lesticles.
13) Kevin Sumlin: I have absolutely no reason to loathe Kevin Sumlin, either. Really. The guy has been successful everywhere he's coached. He's a bona fide offensive innovator. He helped send Bama fans into an utter swivet last November. He recruits like a demon, but doesn't seem to care to do so in Georgia. Again, this is subject to change in the event that the Classic City Canines ever cross paths with the Aggies, but for now Kevin Sumlin is nearly unloathable in my book.
12) Mark Richt: I know, he's a friend to orphans, and his players love him, and he sold his lake house and gave the money to charity. Even wins a fair amount of football games. But a fella can erase a heckuva lot of good will with a shenanigan like this.
11) Gary Pinkel: Pinkel is another SEC coach who's never really given me any reason to dislike him. His team hasn't beaten mine. He's never been anything but complimentary to the Bulldogs. I'm given to understand that Kansas football fans despise him. But if I was a Kansas football fan I would despise everyone and everything, so that's not the best barometer.
10) Bret Bielema: Bielema is another coach who just hasn't had a chance to piss me off yet. However, keen observers will remember that he's flashed some serious potential on that score. If Joe Paterno were still here, he'd tell you all about it. Still, Bielema is a quotable guy who should keep things interesting in the SEC. As a blogger I just can't loathe a guy for that.
9) Mark Stoops: At this point I'm only dimly aware of what a Mark Stoops is. I know he tweets about "Stoops Troops" which kind of reminds me of the "Goof Troop" cartoon. However, like Bielema, his loathability is sure to rise after the first time the Red and Black fiddle fart around with his squad as they seem to do with one out of every three football teams Kentucky fields. In other words, I'm not saying I don't loathe Mark Stoops. I'm just saying I don't loathe Mark Stoops just yet.
8) Butch Jones: I'm 100% neutral on Butch Jones. To me he's just the generic MAC coach from central casting at this point. Check back with me in a year. That utter neutrality is the reason Butch Jones is the continental divide of this SEC coaching loathability countdown: it's all downhill from here.
7) Dan Mullen: All I'm saying is that when the folks at the University of Miami think you are too arrogant to coach their football team, it's like David Allen Coe and George Jones sitting you down to tell you your drinking may be affecting your career. Plus we'll always have that 2010 debacle. If nothing else I loathe Dan Mullen for coaching a team that my team took too lightly and half-assed their way to a loss against. Plus he was Urban Meyer's right hand asshat in Gainesville for a significant chunk of time, which is good for loathability by association.
6) Gus Malzahn: He coaches at Auburn. His wife may be crazier than a road lizard. It's almost enough to make you feel sorry for the guy. Except that, as noted above, he coaches at Auburn. In truth, I've always had a lot of respect for Gus Malzahn, who is essentially the Hugh Freeze of Arkansas, a high school coach who parlayed once-in-a-lifetime players into a college coaching job. The difference of course is that Malzahn's offense has demonstrably worked at the college level, which makes him seem like a qualified opportunist rather than a garden-variety coattail-hanger.
5) Hugh Freeze: Readers of Michael Lewis's book The Blindside will remember that promising recruit Michael Oher was coached by Freeze in high school, and began referring to him as "The Snake" because it was clear to him that Freeze was primarily concerned with wringing a collegiate job offer out of Oher's recruitment. He's also done a great job of convincing everyone who's paying attention that his first order of business upon setting up shop in the Grove was to increase the salary cap. Look, I still don't think Freeze is ever gonna be able to buy enough players to do any better than third in the SEC West. That doesn't mean I can't loathe him for trying.
4) Will Muschamp: When he was hired as the new head football coach at Florida Will Muschamp went out of his way to distance himself from his Bulldog past. It was unnecessary, and it was kind of a dick move. That being said, Muschamp has never beaten Georgia as a head coach, and his Auburn defenses were a veritable point pinata. A full twenty percent of Mike Bobo's overall employability as an offensive coordinator can be traced to the occasion pantsing of Muschamp coached defenses. So until you win in Jacksonville Willard, I ain't mad at ya.
3) Nick Saban: Would he eviscerate a sackful of kittens to win another national title? Of course. Has he been known to yell menacingly at beat writers for having the temerity to (I can't believe I'm even typing it, it's so horrible) ask questions about an upcoming opponent? Is Ken Stabler drunk!?!* Did his hand-picked medical staff medically disqualify offensive lineman Caleb Gulledge this summer, only to see Gulledge miraculously healed enough to be playing at Jacksonville State right now? Sure. Nick Saban is a cutthroat bastard. I think we can all agree on that.
But Nick Saban has won a ton of football games. That's what he is. He doesn't deny it. You can't really loath a hyena for loving the taste of lost toddler. It's his essence. Same for the Armani Bear. Plus, you may recall that he actually showed a lot of class after the SEC Championship Game, immediately praising the fallen Bulldogs for the game they'd played. That meant something to me. Ask yourself, would Spurrier have been big enough to do that? I somehow doubt it.
2) James Franklin: Has anyone ever talked more crap and delivered less than James Franklin? If "fake it until you make it" were a tenet of Hinduism Franklin would have dwelled in Nirvana years ago. And while I don't think it's entirely fair to hold head coaches accountable when their players mess up off the field, I'm willing to make an exception for this guy. In texas they like to say that guys like Franklin are "all hat and no cattle." I couldn't say it better myself.
1) Steve Spurrier: The Ole Ball Coach is the Ole Man River of the loathability rankings. Year after year he just keeps rolling along. Spurrier's loathability took a bit of a dip after his arrival at South Carolina. A humbled OBC is not terribly loathable after all. Even I have trouble kicking an old man while he's down. But with the Gamecocks' current win streak over the Bulldogs, I think it's safe to hate Stevie again.
Am I right or am I wrong? Who's too high? Too low? Until later . . .
*No, I'm asking seriously, if you live in the state of Alabama you should probably look out of your window right now just to make sure that the Snake isn't in fact inebriated and aiming his Cadillac toward you. Vigilence is the price of freedom, friends.