Ah, the cross country road trip. Truly one of life's greatest joys, a long road trip is a time of excitement and adventure, a chance to face the unexpected, a voyage of self-discovery and an opportunity to bond with those around you. All of which, of course, makes the choice of traveling companions extremely important - a good one can add untold amounts of enjoyment to the experience, while a bad one can lead to hours of tedium, if not outright misery.
So, this got us to thinking: what would it be like to take a long road trip with the various SEC football coaches? After running thousands of computer simulations and creating extensive psychological profiles of each coach, we've come up with the definitive answer, presented below in handy list format.
Important Note: since we want this to be a ranking of pure road trip companionship rather than teams we like or don't like, we've instituted a few simple ground rules. Please keep them in mind as you read:
1. Talking about college football on the trip is strictly not allowed.
2. Talking about the SEC is not allowed.
3. See rule #1.
Having said all that, follow us after the jump for our analysis:
1. Steve Spurrier - The Ol' Ball Coach may have lost a step on the sideline, but his penchant for acerbic wisecracks and reported lack of a psychotic work ethic indicate that he would be seriously good company on a cross-country trek. Possible drawback: might have trouble deciding who he wants the primary driver to be.
2. Houston Nutt - The trip would undoubtedly be a roller coaster of exhilarating highs and crushing lows, but it'd certainly never be dull. HDN's hyper-enthusiastic personality and giggety giggety approach to life pretty much guarantee that something crazy would happen. Added bonus: might know how to get in touch with the cute local anchorwoman you're watching on the hotel bar TV.
3. Rich Brooks - Maker's Mark released a limited-edition whiskey bottle with his name and face on it. Not much else needs to be said...
4. Les Miles - Anyone nuts enough to throw for the end zone (and the win) instead of kicking for the tie against Auburn a couple of years back surely has a few wild road trip tricks up his sleeve. (Note: this ranking is predicated on the assumption that he pronounces Arkansas correctly...otherwise we drop him to the bottom of this list.)
5. Mark Richt - Yes, the media rhapsodizing over Richt's strong moral fiber is a little much at times, but he does seem to be a genuinely good guy (there probably aren't a lot of big-time coaches that you can say that about). We're just not sure how much fun he would be: the possibility of the trip turning into a coast-to-coast Bible study worries us.
6. Bobby Johnson - Let's see...coaches Vanderbilt and was an ACC All-Academic honoree. Nerd! Nerd! Nerd!
7. Bobby Petrino - Yes, ESPN has decided that Petrino is officially The Worst Person on Earth, but we think he's just a futuristic cyborg who's been programmed to think about nothing but football. As Hog fans, we're cool with that, but given rules #1 and 3 above our road trip would likely consist of hour after hour of uncomfortable silence while he quietly draws up plays in his head.
8. Dan Mullen - We don't know all that much about Mullen, but our guess is that we'd spend most of the trip turning the stereo up to drown out the sound of him quietly weeping over the realization that, instead of coaching Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin at the Swamp, he's now leading Mississippi State in Starkville.
9. Gene Chizik - We're not Chizik experts either, but the following description of Auburn's new coach from Gainesville Sun columnist Pat Dooley makes us pretty sure he's not the road companion for us: "I feel bad for the Auburn writers. He has the personality of a used napkin."
10. Lane Kiffin - In both appearance and attitude, Kiffin strongly resembles the archetypal preppie/jock villain from an 80's teen movie. And since most of our outlook on the world was forged by watching 80's teen movies, that's good enough reason to put him towards the bottom of this list.
11. Nick Saban - We have visions of being berated for not executing a proper lane change, chewed out for picking the wrong gas pump and dressed down for setting the AC at an undesirable level. Call us crazy, but being trapped for hours in a car with this modern-day Napoleon is not our idea of a good time.
12. Urban Meyer - It's probably no coincidence that the two most (recently) successful coaches in the SEC are the ones at the bottom of this list. Much credit is due to Meyer for his coaching ability, but he also seems like the kind of guy who might decide to kill a drifter in a truck stop bathroom just for fun - and that's way more road trip buzzkill than we can handle.