Expect A Major Shakeup In The SEC Coaching Ranks
In the uber-competitive SEC, winning has a different meaning than in the rest of the country. Winning is beating your rival (and SEC teams have lots of rivals), winning titles, winning bowl games and making trips to the College Football Playoffs….on a consistent basis.
In a lot of conferences, head coaches with 8-4 records may one day be immortalized in bronze by the stadium entrance, but in the SEC, that will get you a Century 21 sign in your front yard.
Call it the ‘Instant Gratification Affect’ or the ‘Saban Phenomena’, SEC coaches are expected to win now, win a lot and win big. Forget about the old Soviet style 5-year plans. In the SEC, it’s win now or off to the Gulag… or worse, an analyst job in Bristol.
The coaching carousel started last weekend with Florida’s firing of Jim McElwain. All McElwain did in his 2.5 years in the Swamp was go to two SEC Championships and win an SEC Coach of the Year plaque. Sorry Mac, not good enough. Don’t get embarrassed by your biggest rival and avoid bizarre press conference statements at your next stop.
Ole Miss fired their holier than thou head coach, Hugh Freeze, prior to the 2017 season due to running up a tab with a female escort business. Matt Luke took over the program but the 3-5 Rebels have an executive search firm looking for a replacement.
Now comes the odd case of Arkansas Razorback head coach, Bret Bielema. Bielema was a lifetime midwesterner but decided to make the move to Wal Mart land. From 2006 to 2012, Bielema was 68-24 with three Big 10 championships at Wisconsin…statue material in the Land of Cheese. After going 28-31 and 11-26 in his five years in Fayetteville, the Razorback faithful are ready to ship him back up north. His buyout is an issue but ask the Walton Family for a loan.
The Tennessee Volunteers have not been relevant since the Bush Administration. Being ‘Champions of Life’ wasn’t what the Vol faithful were expecting when they hired Butch Jones in 2013. All Butch has done is go 14-23 in the SEC. The 41-0 Georgia thrashing sealed his fate. Kirby Smart may possibly be responsible for getting two SEC coaches pink slips this season (see McElwain above).
The Missouri Tigers were invited to the SEC party in 2012 and promptly won two SEC East titles. Gary Pinkel retired at the end of the 2015 season and Barry Odom has brought Mizzou back to earth with a 7-13 record. The natives are restless in Columbia. Oh the 8-3 days in the Big 12.
After beginning his Texas A&M coaching career 11-2 in 2012, Kevin Sumlin’s record has been steadily going downhill. Three consecutive 8-5 records (and possibly a fourth this season) and a 24-21 SEC record isn’t getting it done in College Station.
Derek Mason has struggled at Vanderbilt, but who doesn’t? The Dores are 5-24 in the SEC during Mason’s four years in Music City but last season’s Independence Bowl invite is worth a couple of more years at the helm.
The jury is always out on Auburn’s Gus Malzahn. After a 12-2 initial season and a SEC Champion, Malzahn has gone 15-13 in the SEC the last four years. There just haven’t been any Georgia or Alabama miracle games since that first season.
LSU gave Ed Orgeron a mind-boggling contract which the Tigers may have to live with for a long time. Orgeron went 6-2 after he succeeded Les Miles in mid-season last year. He has the Tigers ranked 19th and 6-2 this season, but losing to Troy didn’t sit well in Red Stick. Alabama visits Saturday…the hot seat doesn’t get any cooler.
The Kentucky Wildcats are currently 6-2 and beat Tennessee last week. In Lexington, that’s huge. Head coach Mark Stoops is bowl bound for a second year in a row and Big Blue Nation can ignore the 11-26 SEC record….for now.
South Carolina’s Will Muschamp is also 6-2 during his second season with the Gamecocks. That’s good enough for the Sandstorm set but Will better beat Clemson soon.
They love Dan Mullen at Mississippi State…and why not? He’s 67-44 in Starkville and has taken the Bulldogs to seven consecutive bowl games. The only problem is he may be lost to Florida after this season.
Georgia’s Kirby Smart…when you’re No. 1 in the country, all is good. Alabama’s Nick Saban is like a Supreme Court Justice….job for life.