Evaluating and ranking the top coaches in the country is no doubt a complicated and daunting process, but I was told "Do it!" and have given it my best shot. I've spoken with a number of assistants, head coaches and athletic directors in the past week, gleaning whatever prevailing perceptions exist in the profession. Additionally, we've run each boss through a system to gauge specific areas requisite of the job.
The coaches were evaluated in four comprehensive categories:
• Recruiting and development: Can the coach reel in the players? What happens once they're on campus, whether they're 2-star or 5-star recruits?
• Preparation and game day: How does the coach get his players ready for games, and what sort of adjustments is he able to make once inside the rigors of the 60 minutes?
• Perception and reception: How is the coach received by fans -- and, more importantly, boosters? How is the coach perceived by outsiders of the program, including media types?
• Consistency and sustainability: Is this coach a flash in the pan, or has he done it over time and possibly in multiple locations? Has he created a lineage?
With all of that in mind, here is a ranking of the top 10 coaches in the business right now, along with a list of some others who just missed the first cut and a few more who are on the way up.
1. Nick Saban, Alabama Crimson Tide146 wins, three national championships, three conference championships in 16 seasons
Was there any doubt about the top spot? Besides winning championships two of the past three seasons, he won big at LSU and won at Michigan State. If not for that blip in time called the Miami Dolphins (think about Jordan's year with the Birmingham Barons), he might have won another title or two.
One SEC recruiting coordinator said you know there's a difference when you're going up against Saban and Bama for a kid. "You don't want to be going head-to-head with them too often," he said. "It doesn't usually turn out well."
To read the rest of Travis Haney's blog ranking the nation's best coaches, you must be an ESPN Insider.