The SEC has never been short of colorful personalities among its football coaches, but some of the conference’s all-time top characters are no longer coaching.
So who do we miss the most?
The late Bear Bryant and Quipster Steve Spurrier top their picks, but a few other picks might surprise you.
Each host selected a quartet of coaches they would like to see return for an SEC team.
Here are her tips.
The selection of John Adams
Bear Bryant: I remember seeing him leaning against the goalposts while warming up before the game. He looked about as lively as a cardboard cutout. But putting a cardboard cutout of the bear on the Alabama sidelines would have been enough to intimidate an opponent.
Bill Curry: If Hollywood had ordered a championship coach from central casting, he would have looked like Bill Curry. I can still see him standing confidently on the Kentucky sidelines, arms crossed and reflective sunglasses. His body language said, “We’re preparing to kick your ass and there’s nothing you can do about it.” The scoreboard said otherwise.
Les Miles: He ate grass on the sidelines and couldn’t tell time in the heat of a game. I asked him two questions and never got a coherent answer. Nonetheless, he was dubbed the “Mad Hatter” and celebrated as a learned coach. His success proved that virtually anyone can win a national championship.
Urban Mayer: No coach hated losing more than Urban Meyer. So they couldn’t help but perversely gloat over how much he was suffering – no matter how stoic he looked – when the score fell against him. It’s no wonder losing an SEC championship game to Nick Saban landed him in the hospital.
Blake Toppmeyer’s selection
Steve Spurrier: The head ball coach’s disrespectful attitude towards the game is similar to my own. He put nothing and nobody on a pedestal. Meanwhile, Spurrier’s Fun ‘N’ Gun Offense and Quarterback Platoons left no room for a dull moment. Neither did his press conferences. Spurrier knew how to tease opposing coaches, but he wasn’t afraid to belittle his own team either. After South Carolina defeated Vanderbilt by two touchdowns in 2014, Spurrier called the win — and his team — a clunker. “We’ve all seen good football teams. We’re not,” he said.
Ed Orgeron: Orgeron is the rare coach to have: A) won a national championship and B) offered to fight an opposing fan before a game because he didn’t like the fan’s powder blue jersey. I enjoyed listening to Orgeron’s harsh Cajun accent, although I couldn’t always make out what he was saying. The man knew how to celebrate his triumphs and his defeats. Based on how he left the field following a loss in Alabama last November, one would have thought he’d been elected Emperor of the Bayou. A shot couldn’t spoil Orgeron’s fun.
Houston Nutt: While I appreciated Spurrier’s passing offense, I’ve always liked the other end of the spectrum, and few teams could match Arkansas’ ability to chew rushing yards at the height of the Nutt era. He had not one but two running backs, Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, who rushed for the top 1,000 yards in 2006 and 2007. Ole also provided memorable compensation after Miss Nutt was fired by helping blow the lid on the Hugh Freeze scandal. I respect a successful revenge tour.
Jeremy Pruitt: If it was him kick a whiteboard, comparing his team to the Titanic or being fined $100,000 for wearing his face mask like he was The Great Cornholio, this former Tennessee coach rarely failed to entertain — even when he couldn’t beat Georgia State . Pruitt didn’t have a filter, which is an administrator’s nightmare but a reporter’s dream. One of Pruitt’s most memorable quotes came after a 31-point bludgeoning against Alabama last season. “The gap is closing,” he said. “I can assure you of that.” That defeat came amid the Vols’ first six-game losing streak in more than 30 years.
Where to listen to SEC Football Unfiltered
Blake Toppmeyer is the SEC columnist for the USA TODAY Network. John Adams is senior columnist for the Knoxville News Sentinel. You can subscribe to her podcast, SEC Football Unfiltered.