Here are the 14 SEC coaches rated from 1-14 in terms of job security.
2. Nick Saban, Alabama: The only thing that will prevent Nick from staying at Alabama for the rest of his coaching career is boredom. If he gets bored and the right NFL team makes the right offer, then there is a chance he would bolt.
3. Gus Malzahn, Auburn: Gus is a great fit at Auburn and they have shown their appreciation by putting millions into facilities upgrades such as new athletic dorms and a 24-hour nutrition center.
4. Gary Pinkel, Missouri: He’s the winningest coach in school history and he’s taken Missouri to the SEC Championship Game twice in Mizzou’s three years in the SEC. Nobody expected Mizzou to be this competitive in the SEC this soon.
5. Mark Richt, Georgia: Georgia fans gripe and complain that Florida, Alabama, Auburn and LSU have all won national championships since the last time Georgia even won the SEC (2005) but they’re not going to fire a coach who has won 136 games in 14 years. Vince Dooley didn’t win a national championship until he had been at Georgia 17 years and averaged only eight wins a year for his entire career.
6. Les Miles, LSU: LSU fans are always grousing about Les but he’s 103-29 in 10 years on the job and 52-14 in the last five years. As long as he’s averaging 10 wins a year the fans might complain but they’re not going to kick him to the curb.
7. Jim McElwain, Florida: The reason Mac rates so high is because this is the first year on his Florida contract. He’s actually secure for three years. If he doesn’t have Florida teetering on the championship verge by year four, then he can sweat bullets.
8. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State: Mullen has taken the Bulldogs to five straight bowl games and a 41-24 record during that period. Bowl seasons are like dog years in Starkvegas, which means the last five have been like 35. The concern is that Mullen will finally give in and take the big bucks to leave.
9. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss: The Rebels were 6-16 in the two years before Freeze arrived. They’ve won 24 games in three years. No danger that he will get fired, but if Florida’s facilities had been as good as the ones he’s got at Ole Miss he would be UF’s coach right now. That’s a fact. He could be persuaded to leave.
10. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M: The Aggies have gone from 11-2 to 9-4 to 8-5 in his three years. They can score plenty of points but haven’t stopped anyone from scoring on them. That’s why Sumlin hired John Chavis. If Chavis can’t stop the defensive bleeding then the Aggie faithful are going to become very, very restless.
11. Bret Bielema, Arkansas: If the Hogs live up to the 2015 hype and make a run at the SEC West title, then Bielema will move up this chart rapidly. If they take a step backward you can’t imagine the level of insecurity that will set in with the faithful.
12. Butch Jones, Tennessee: Everybody in Knoxville is gleeful about the highly ranked recruiting classes and last year’s bowl game, but what happens if the Vols take a step backward this year? If Jones doesn’t win this year, the only thing that might save his UT career from extinction is the mountain of debt that buries the athletic department.
13. Mark Stoops, Kentucky: He went from 2-10 in year one to 5-7 in year two, but the Wildcats lost their last six games. If they take the next step and get to a winning record, then Stoops is safe. A step backward and Stoops could be in trouble. The Florida game in Lexington on September 19 is circled on the calendar as a make or break game.
14. Derek Mason, Vanderbilt: James Franklin proved Vanderbilt could win nine games a year and go bowling three consecutive years. Last year’s 0-8 SEC mark did not settle well with the faithful. A 1-7 or another 0-8 and he might not have a chance for a third year.
Florida 14, Florida State 9; November 30, 1991
This was one of the greatest defensive performances ever by a Florida football team against an FSU team that was absolutely loaded with skilled athletes. Steve Spurrier will tell you to this day, it shouldn’t have been close. Florida should have put at least 28 points on the board, but a couple of silly penalties killed two UF scoring chances. In the first quarter, Shane Matthews had a 24-yard touchdown pass to Tre Everett wiped out by a procedure penalty. On the next play Matthews got picked off in the end zone. In the fourth quarter, a delay of game penalty followed by a 1-yard loss on a draw play threw the offense off and Matthews was picked off when he overthrew Willie Jackson in the corner of the end zone. Florida grabbed a 7-3 lead with 3:11 left in the first half on a 3-yard Errict Rhett run behind crushing blocks by Hesham Ismail and Dexter McNabb. The Gators extended the lead midway through the third quarter when Matthews rolled right and launched a jump ball pass that Harrison Houston caught at the FSU 43. When FSU’s Reggie Freeman slithered to the ground, Houston turned and sprinted to the end zone to complete a 72-yard TD play that gave UF a 14-3 lead with 7:32 left in the game. FSU scored on its next possession, a 24-yard TD pass from Casey Weldon to Amp Lee but the TD came with a price. Weldon took a brutal hit and was on the sideline getting stitches in his chin when William Gaines batted down Brad Johnson’s 2-point conversion pass. FSU had one more chance to win the game. After a long punt return by Terrell Buckley, the Seminoles made it to the UF 14 where they faced second and five. On the next two plays, Florida’s intense pass rush forced Weldon to throw incomplete passes when there were open receivers. On fourth down, Weldon was under intense pressure from Tony McCoy, Harvey Thomas and Carlton Miles when he tried to hit Kez McCorvey in the end zone. Will White broke on the ball and tipped it, but FSU’s Matt Frier was waiting to catch the deflection when Del Speer cut his knees out from under him to finish off the play. Florida’s defense held FSU to 37 rushing yards and the pass rush beat Weldon to a pulp. Weldon was sacked three times, intercepted twice and hit while throwing at least 40 of his 51 pass attempts. The Gators finished the regular season 10-1, the first 10-win season in UF history.
These five coaches might be a mediocre or bad season away from a quick trip to the Endangered Species List at Countdown to Firing Day.
1. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech: Conventional wisdom tells you that Beamer (231-115-2 in 28 years) has earned the right to depart Virginia Tech on his own terms but fans were spoiled by eight straight seasons with at least 10 wins. The 22-17 record (12-12 ACC) of the last three years has them thinking maybe Frank’s sell-by date expired a few years back.
2. Randy Edsall, Maryland: Let’s start with the fact Edsall isn’t exactly the most likeable guy out there and then compound it by the fact he would have been gone years ago except someone in the administration gave him this ridiculous contract with a buyout the school couldn’t afford. Well, the buyout is affordable now and another 7-6 season won’t settle well with the boosters.
3. Kyle Wittingham, Utah: It’s been a lot of years since that magical 13-0 2008 season capped by a win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. The Utes are 37-26 in the last five years, but just 19-18 in the last three. If Wittingham doesn’t produce at least eight or nine wins this season the natives in Salt Lake who write the checks are going to have itchy buyout check writing fingers.
4. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State: Supposedly he’s kissed and made up with T. Boone Pickens, which is why he’s still gainfully employed in Stillwater. He’s had some opportunities to go other places and might be wondering why he didn’t take one of them if the Cowboys go 7-5 or 8-4 this year. Anything short of 10 wins and he’ll feel the heat from T. Boone and some of the other big oil money people who don’t seem to get it that the really good players don’t think of Stillwater as a resort.
5. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern: He’s got the worst facilities and the toughest academics in the Big Ten. Fans should be proud of the 33-30 record the last five years and back-to-back 5-7 marks have them restless. If the Wildcats don’t get to eight wins this year, Fitzgerald might look back on all those offers he had to leave a few years ago and kick himself in the butt for not taking one of them.
1. P.J. Fleck, Western Michigan: Fleck is the youngest coach in Division I (34). He inherited a mess, went 1-11 his first year and then 8-5 last season while exciting the faithful with an offense that produced a 1,500 yard rusher, a 3,400 yard passer and a 1,400-yard receiver.
2. Mark Hudspeth, Louisiana-Lafayette: The boosters are spending money like crazy to expand and upgrade Cajun Field and give Hudspeth the best facilities in the Sun Belt Conference because they know their coach is on a lot of wish lists. He is 36-16 in four seasons and has won four consecutive bowl games.
3. Jeff Brohm, Western Kentucky: Nearly everybody is back from a WKU offense that produced a 4,000-yard passer (40 TDPs), a 1,500-yard rusher and six receivers with at least 30 catches in Brohm’s first year on the job. When the Hilltoppers duplicate or exceed last year’s totals, Brohm will make a bunch of hot lists.
4. Scott Satterfield, Appalachian State: When the Happy Appys were winning championships and embarrassing Michigan in the Big House, Satterfield was the guy calling the plays. Since taking over the program as HBC when it was downtrodden in 2013, he’s rebuilt from the ground up and takes a 6-game winning streak into 2015. He’s one of the best spread option minds in the business.
5. Matt Campbell, Toledo: He’s young (just 35), African-American and he can flat out coach. Toledo is 26-13 in his three years on the job and the Rockets know how to put points on the board.
Baylor coach Art Briles says that name recognition had everything to do with Baylor and TCU being excluded from the first college football playoff. “If Baylor or TCU had an older brand name, one of us would have got in the College Football Playoff,” Briles said at Big 12 Media Days. It’s easier to say something ridiculous like that then to blame the Big 12 for having only 10 teams and no conference championship game or talk about a pansy out of conference schedule.
Steve Spurrier bet Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin $10 that South Carolina’s defense would improve more than the Aggies’ in 2015. That’s a big bet for Stevie Wonder, who still has eight cents of the first dime he made when he signed with the San Francisco 49ers.
No shocker here. Louisiana Tech has named former Gator Jeff Driskel as its starting quarterback. It will be interesting to see if the new environment allows JD to play to his potential or if it will be more of the same tentative, indecisive quarterback that we got used to at UF.
When fans from Michigan and Ohio State got into a fight that included hair pulling and punches thrown on a Lake Erie boat over the weekend, the owner of the boat carrying the fans said, “There may be a few drinks involved in this one.” Really?
Which SEC coach do you think is on the shakiest ground for 2015?
Steve Winwood basically re-invented himself in the 1980s and the proof was “Arc of a Diver,” his first truly successful solo album that included the well played single “While You See a Chance.” The single made it up to #7 while the album went platinum and peaked at #3 on the Billboard charts. From 1980-90 Winwood released five exceptional albums including “Roll With It” that went to #1 in 1988. Today’s music is “Arc of a Diver.”