Since new coaches typically inherit down programs, they typically struggle in Year
1. But some new coaches inherit solid or underachieving programs and win big immediately
… even in a league as rugged as the Southeastern Conference. To wit:
- Terry Bowden went 20-1-1 in his first two seasons at Auburn (1993-94), including a perfect 11-0 mark in Year 1.
- Phillip Fulmer went 13-1-1 in his first 15 games at Tennessee (1992-93).
- Spurrier went 19-4 in his first two seasons at Florida (1990-91), winning the league title in Year 2.
- Nick Saban went 18-7 in his first two seasons at LSU (2000-01), winning the league title in Year 2.
- Houston Nutt went 17-7 in his first two seasons at Arkansas (1998-99), winning the SEC West title in Year 1.
Conversely, many first-year coaches bring in new systems that require some adjustment time. For instance:
- Gene Stallings went 7-5 in his first season at Alabama (1990), then went 24-1 the next two seasons.
- Jim Donnan went 5-6 in his first year at Georgia (1996), then went 19-5 the next two.
- Tommy Tuberville went 5-6 in his first year at Auburn (1999), then won or shared the SEC West title four of the five years since then, including a 13-0 season in 2004.
So, will Tennessee benefit from facing five first-year head coaches this fall? In terms of the three who are in rebuilding modes – Spurrier, Weis and Orgeron – probably so. In the case of Meyer and Miles – two guys who inherited loads of talent – probably not.