SEC is on DEFCON 1

It's been a wild few weeks among the assistant coaching ranks within the SEC, as teams traded up. Coordinators jumped from one school to another. Some assistants simply changed jerseys and Ed Orgeron is now back on the sidelines. All these guys have two things in common - they can flat out coach and are even better recruiters. Ah, life in the SEC.

I was in New York City yesterday when I felt the tremors.

Coach O has returned to the sidelines. This time he will be representing his home-state of Louisiana.

The Tigers announced on Wednesday that Ed Orgeron would be their new defensive line coach. On Tuesday Kevin Steele left Alabama to become LSU’s next defensive coordinator.

I have to hand it to Les Miles. Even with another top 20 recruiting class headed to Baton Rouge these staff additions will be his biggest recruits over the final days of this recruiting cycle. In pure recruiting terms Steele and Orgeron are five-star recruiters.

It’s as if Miles said ‘Game On’ to the Crimson Tide and the rest of the Southeastern Conference.

The SEC is now officially on DEFCON 1.

It’s been brewing for a while. This league is brutal when it comes to recruiting, as you can never have enough ace recruiters wandering the deep south looking for players to stockpile rosters. Recruiting in the SEC is like swimming in shark infested waters.Every team wants to pack heat in attempt to out-recruit their rivals.

Auburn actually fired the first missle. Tigers coach Gus Malzahn recruited former Florida head coach Will Mushcamp to Auburn. While Muschamp is not known as an elite recruiter he’s certainly one of the game’s finest defensive coordinators. That alone will attract prospects. Heck, we have already seen it played out with some of the blue chippers from the Sunshine State in defensive ends Byron Cowart (Seffner Armwood) and CeCe Jeffeerson (Glen St. Mary Baker County). The Muschamp hire will also give Auburn a better shot with the nation’s top offensive tackle, Martez Ivey (Apopka) and outside linebacker Jeff Holland (Jacksonville Trinity Christian Academy).

After the bowl season, one of the Gator’s primary recruiters, Tavaris Robinson, bolted Gainesville for his alma mater, Auburn, rejoining Muschamp on the defensive side of the ball.

Then, as if yesterday’s Orgeron news wasn’t big enough in the SEC West, it was also announced that Lance Thompson had left the Crimson Tide for Auburn.

Say what?

Thompson has been a long time assistant with Saban, first at LSU, then with Alabama. He bolted for a spell to join Lane Kiffin’s staff in Knoxville before heading back to Tuscaloosa for a third time. Now he’s a Tiger.

Wow.

Thompson has always been one of the elite recruiters no matter where he’s been.

The bottom line is the Auburn upped the ante. They now have arguably the top recruiting staff in the country. Muschamp, T-Rob, and Thompson join forces with current Tiger coaches in Rodney Garner, Tim Horton, Dameyune Craig and company. Of course that’s what it will take in an attempt to topple Saban, Alabama and the SEC West.

I can’t wait to see the counter punch from Saban. You know he will bring in at least one heavy hitter if not two in replacing Steele and Thompson. Speculation is that Tosh Lupoi will be back on the sidelines at Alabama. For those that follow recruiting you will know that he was the elite recruiter on the West Coast while he coached at Cal and Washington.

Lupoi was dismissed from the Huskies staff after allegations he offered the coach of a recruit money to pay for tutoring and classes in an attempt to get qualified. The NCAA officially cleared Washington and Lupoi of any wrongdoing. He left the program and has been at Alabama in an administrative role since April.

Moving fronts within the SEC West Texas A&M got the biggest coaching upgrade of any team in this league. Coach Kevin Sumlin has had a dynamic offense with the Aggies. The issue is that they have not been able to stop anyone. Mark Snyder is out as Sumlin’s defensive coordinator and replaced with John Chavis, who left LSU for Texas A&M.

Like Muschamp, Chief Chavis knows how to run a defense. That’s been his mantra for nearly 20 seasons now, whether it was for the Volunteers or Tigers. That was a huge get for Sumlin, as Chavis should work wonders with this side of the ball. They have some good young talent.

There’s also the possibility that former Tigers defensive line coach Brick Haley could follow Chavis to College Station.

Of course Muschamp was ousted in Gainesville and replaced with Jim McElwain. McElwain hired Geoff Collins away from Mississippi State to guide the Gators defense. Collins is a young and up and coming defensive coordinator. He had one of the country’s better units this past season. Of course to boot, he’s a very good recruiter that knows the state of Florida.

McElwain also courted and landed Arkansas linebacker coach Randy Shannon. Shannon is a former player and long time coach at Miami. Florida is hoping he can weave some recruiting magic in South Florida, as the Gators want to have a heavy presence in that part of the state.

With the exception of Florida [because of coaching change] Georgia was the one team that had to make a big move for an offensive coordinator. Mike Bobo had practically been a lifer in Athens. He played and coached there all but one year. He was also one of the silent assassins when it came to recruiting for UGA. Bobo got his big break, landing the head coaching job at Colorado State.

Georgia coach Mark Richt surprised many in landing Bobo’s replacement. He didn’t recycle a college coach and elected to go the pro route and nabbed St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.

Of course Georgia’s big splash defensively was this time a year ago when Richt brought in Florida State defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt for the same position.

What I find fascinating regarding the coaching moves mentioned above is that they are mainly defensive and recruiting related (minus Schottenheimer). In an era of the spread attack and offense, offense, offense, you still do not win championships without playing defense and winning the all important recruiting battles.

Nowhere is that better understood than the SEC.

These have been monster moves that will all have great impacts on each program. The effects will be both short and long term both on the field and even more so in recruiting.

It's game on in the SEC. You are now on DEFCON 1.

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