Chasin' the Devil: Parting gifts for coaches now out of the chase

Another rough season for Will Muschamp and the Gators. (USATSI)
Another rough season for Will Muschamp and the Gators. (USATSI)

Thanks for playing.

We were wrong on these devil-chasers.

Looking back at the initial chasing devil rankings, four coaches from the Top 10 have lost at least two games. Just three remain undefeated with six weeks left in the regular season.

The first list was more a nod to coaches best positioned to unseat Nick Saban long term based on the stability of their programs, not simply 2013 results. But the expectations set by these coaches amplifies a few early-season losses.

This week's "Chasin' the Devil" rankings are below (some new names once again), but first let's let Saban say goodbye to a few promising devil-chasers that fell out of the race for good after two losses.

Saban comes bearing parting gifts.

Will Muschamp, Florida

Devil parting gifts: Two more athletic trainers, eight knee braces and a hug for offensive coordinator Brent Pease.

Buzz: Unless the Gators implode down the stretch and finish below .500, Muschamp isn't on the hot seat. But it's perplexing to say the least that a place like Florida can’t find solutions at quarterback and wide receiver. Last year everything played in Florida’s favor, but this year injuries have derailed its chances.

Mark Richt, Georgia

Devil parting gifts: Vince Gill tickets on the way out of Nashville and an 'SEC East third place' medal.

Buzz: With losses to Clemson, Mizzou and Vandy, Georgia is looking like a third- or fourth-place team in its division. Florida and Georgia both have three losses heading into the Cocktail Party. Thinking about that.

Brian Kelly, Notre Dame

Devil parting gifts: A hand-written note from Lennay Kekua and a Skype session with Everett Golson.

Buzz: Both of those gifts would remind Kelly too much of that magical 2012 season. It’s hard to gauge where Notre Dame's at since the teams that beat the Irish -- Michigan and Oklahoma -- haven’t looked stellar since those games.

Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M

Devil parting gift: Seven more tackling sleds, four more defensive linemen and an autographed Johnny Manziel Onezie.

Buzz: A little more defense, and A&M might still be in the national title mix. The Aggies D faced the ugly combination of youth and injuries, offsetting the brilliant work of Manziel and the offense this season.

Chasin' the Devil
Rank Coach Devil Rating Comment

Mark Helfrich, Oregon -- Beating Oregon will require a heroic defensive effort -- and an offense that can control clock and run the ball all day. Good luck. With strength of schedule improving, Oregon should have chances to leapfrog FSU in the BCS rankings.

Jimbo Fisher, Florida State -- Having a rare talent such as Jameis Winston gives FSU the edge in every game they play from here until bowl season. Fisher should be lauded for building a defense that stymied Clemson despite several NFL defections.

Urban Meyer, <span data-shortcode= State" data-canon="Ohio Bobcats" data-type="SPORTS_OBJECT_TEAM" id="shortcode0"> -- It's not Meyer's fault OSU keeps winning. Fair or not, he's a victim to the proverbial ‘weak schedule’ sickness. Do the coaches in front of him have better quarterbacks? So far, yes, but it’s not time to write off Braxton Miller.

Art Briles, Baylor -- Can Baylor keep this up for six more conference games, with a stretch of top 20 teams -- Oklahoma and Texas Tech at home, at Oklahoma State -- looming in early November? It won’t be easy, though Briles’ bunch has made offense look that way.

Al Golden, Miami -- Stephen Morris' inconsistency makes Miami fans nervous. He loves the high fastball. That's not good for receivers. But Golden has maneuvered this season perfectly thus far. And when Morris is good, he’s really good, which gives Miami a chance against FSU next week.

Gary Pinkel, Missouri -- Those who wondered whether Mizzou would be an SEC outlier -- myself included -- need to salute Pinkel for the job he’s done. It’s important to remember just how depleted Missouri was last season. Winning back-to-back games over Georgia/Florida is never easy.

Tim DeRuyter, Fresno State -- Bulldogs are No. 17 in the first BCS standings. Take care of a manageable schedule the rest of the way and a BCS bowl is a real possibility. Fresno's offense is getting off nearly 90 plays per game, tops in the country.

Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech -- All right, Kliff, you're right. We doubted you. Or at least I did. My bad. I picked Tech to finish ninth in the Big 12 (ninth? I’m going in hiding now). But if this Tech run is truly storybook, let’s see what you can do in Norman this weekend.

Gus Malzahn, Auburn -- The Gus Bus has turned into a Gus Diesel-truck-with-red-flames-on-the-side-of-it. Though AU's jump from 24 to 11 in the AP poll was a little much, it's clear Malzahn has the Tigers playing with serious confidence. Defense made crucial stops against a ridiculous A&M offense.

Dabo Swinney, Clemson -- A one-loss ACC team will have trouble chasing Saban -- especially one coming off a 37-point loss at home -- but this is still a top-shelf team that can fight for an ACC title. Tigers ran into a monster on Saturday.

David Shaw, Stanford -- You never know. Win out, beat Oregon convincingly, watch FSU and Baylor drop games, hope the BCS computers smile at you -- a dream scenario for Stanford, but not entirely far-fetched.
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