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The List picks the best coach in America

Surprise to everyone: Nick Saban was voted AP coach of the year.

Well, yeah. Sports writers are too afraid of Alabama fans to pick against the guy.

I realize there may be some sports writers reading this who voted for Nick Saban.

Go get yourselves a testosterone injection, guys.

Saban did a great job, and he should get lots of recognition for it.

But there’s no way in a word that rhymes with smell that his vote total should have been almost four times higher than the next highest guy.

Sorry if you don’t like it, but it’s true. He did less with more, but less at Alabama is like less at, say, Buckingham Palace.

I’m not even going to wait for all the angry Crimson Tide fans to cool down.

Today on “The List,” I’ll let you know the coaches who deserve some praise for their hard work this season — even the ones that didn’t get an interview at Auburn.

5. Kyle Whittingham, Utah — Be honest. The only thing you can remotely relate to when the words “University of Utah athletics” are uttered is basketball. That’s because watching former coach Rick Majerus waddle on sidelines and speak like he had a hoagie permanently lodged in his lower throat is one of the funniest things in the history of sports.

But here’s a reason to care about football — A 12-0 season and a Sugar Bowl meeting with, coincidentally, Alabama. Maybe Whittingham and Saban can compare their accomplishments during pregame.

4. Brady Hoke, Ball State — Lemme tell ya, as soon as David Letterman started pimping his alma mater to a national audience, I became a believer. Or it could have something to do with the Cardinals scoring at least 30 points in 11 of their 12 wins. Or it could be the No. 11 offense in terms of total yardage in college football. Nope, it was probably Letterman.

3. Mike Leach, Texas Tech — Playstation offense that anybody could score in? Well, Auburn couldn’t. The Big 12 is soft? The Red Raiders still beat Texas, Oklahoma State and Kansas — teams that were ranked 1, 9 and 23, respectively. Got waxed by Oklahoma? Name one team that wouldn’t, even on a good day. All that, and Leach is still the most handsome vampire wannabe in all of America. Just don’t let Vince Gill know that.

2. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech — Their matchup with LSU in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl may turn out as one of the most interesting this bowl season. And by interesting, I mean the Yellow Jackets may just whip last year’s national champs like they tried to sneak off with the DVD player.

Johnson took an offense that was highly successful at an overlooked Navy program and literally ran circles around opponents this year. The defense is ranked in the top 25 in total yards, sacks and tackles for loss. It’s about time somebody found a way to utilize all that talent.

1. Joe Paterno, Penn State — A team that everybody thought was going to be a mess before the beginning of the season. An over-the-hill coach that should have been out of the game years ago. A program with players whose rap sheets showed a total lack of institutional control. Sounds to me like the perfect recipe for an 11-1 record, a No. 6 ranking and a trip to the Sugar Bowl.

The turnaround for this program — and JoePa’s career — is remarkable. Very few coaches could do it, especially at age 82.

And for all this, how is a coaching icon rewarded? He gets three measly votes and places third in the AP voting.