Are Mullen, Howland and Cohen Now the Strongest Trio of Coaches in the SEC?


Jun 24, 2013; Omaha, NE, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach John Cohen (11, center) is interviewed by ESPN before game 1 of the College World Series finals against the UCLA Bruins at TD Ameritrade Park. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

I almost can’t believe I’m suggesting it, but with the addition of Ben Howland as head basketball coach, does Mississippi State now have the SEC’s strongest group of coaches in the big three sports?

Let’s take a look in alphabetical order…


Nick Saban – he’s the best
????  – can’t judge that yet
Mitch Gaspard – pretty good, but nothing special


Bret Bielema – very solid
Mike Anderson – very solid
Dan Van Hord – very solid


Gus Malzahn – very solid
Bruce Pearl – very solid again
Sunny Galloway – very solid yet again


Jim McElwain – we don’t really know yet
Billy Donovan – exceptional
Kevin O’Sullivan – very very good


Mark Richt – very good
Mark Fox – pretty good
Scott Stricklin – solid


Mark Stoops – he’s alright
John Calipari – maybe the best there is
Gary Anderson – meh


Les Miles – opinions can be mixed, but he’s got a championship
Johnny Jones – pretty good
Paul Mainieri – excellent


Hugh Freeze – good
Andy Kennedy – good
Mike Bianco – good

Mississippi State

Dan Mullen – very good
Ben Howland – very good to great
John Cohen – very solid


Gary Pinkel – really good
Kim Anderson – meh
Tim Jamieson – decent

South Carolina

Steve Spurrier – all time great
Frank Martin – thought to be good, but maybe not so much
Chad Holbrook – solid


Butch Jones – good
Donnie Tyndall – pretty good
Dave Serrano – solid

Texas A&M

Kevin Sumlin – solid
Billy Kennedy – pretty good
Rob Childress – solid


Derek Mason – not so hot
Kevin Stallings – solid
Tim Corbin – exceptional

After going through all these coaches and what they’ve accomplished, I think there’s only three schools that have an argument to be made here:

  1. Auburn
  2. LSU
  3. Arknasas

Every other team may have a national champion winning coach in one, or maybe two of their sports, but there is still one sport lagging behind. I think Auburn makes the strongest case because Gus Malzahn has already played for a national title, Bruce Pearl has been to a handful of Sweet 16s and Sonny Galloway had a pretty stellar career at Oklahoma including a trip to Omaha.

But…I do think Mississippi State has the strongest trio of coaches in the SEC. Dan Mullen (2014), Ben Howland (2002) and John Cohen (2006) have all received an award for national coach of the year. Mullen has reached #1 in the nation (for 35% of the season), while Howland and Cohen have each played for a national championship. They’ve combined for seven conference coach of the year awards in six difference conferences. No other school in the league can say they have current coaches who’ve reached a BCS/New Year’s Six bowl, Final Four and College World Series.

What Scott Stricklin and Greg Byrne have put together for the big three at MSU is pretty incredible, and very exciting moving forward. Even the non-revenue sports have excellent coaching, and are starting to win at a record pace. It’s an exciting time to be a Bulldog!