Three from SEC on 'hot seat'

Three head football coaches who compete in the Southeastern Conference's Western Division might be wise to invest in some fire-proof undershorts. Their seats appear to be getting a little warm.

At least, that's the opinion of Dennis Dodd. In his annual "hot-seat ratings" for, Dodd gives Arkansas head man Houston Nutt a 4.0 ranking on a 1-5 scale. Ed Orgeron of Ole Miss and Sylvester Croom of Mississippi State get 3.0 marks.

Dodd issued no grades above 4.0 this year, and Nutt is one of only four coaches getting 4.0 marks. The others are Syracuse's Greg Robinson, Louisiana-Monroe's Charlie Weatherby and Eastern Michigan's Jeff Genyk.

Nutt guided the Razorbacks to the SEC West title last fall but has endured an offseason fraught with turmoil. He lost offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn to Tulsa and lost high-profile quarterback Mitch Mustain to Southern Cal. Nutt also came under intense scrutiny because of a mind-boggling number of cell-phone calls he made to a female TV reporter last fall.

Orgeron has a 7-16 overall record after two years at Ole Miss, including a 3-13 league mark. Croom has a 9-25 record after three years at Mississippi State, including a 4-20 mark in conference play.

Without further adieu, here is Dodd's rating scale:

0-0.5: Don't even think it – can't be touched

1-1.5: Very safe – change highly unlikely

2-2.5: Safe – solid position

3-3.5: On the bubble – you never know

4-4.5: Warm seat – feeling the pressure

5: On the hot seat – it's time to win now

Tennessee's Phillip Fulmer checks in at 2.5. Fulmer has an impressive won-lost record but hasn't claimed an SEC title since 1998. He suffered his first losing season (5-6) in 2005, bounced back with a 9-3 regular season in 2006, then suffered an ugly 20-10 loss to Penn State in the Outback Bowl.

Kentucky's Rich Brooks, who seemed a virtual lock to get fired just one year ago, has a fairly solid 2.0 ranking after guiding the 2006 Wildcats to an 8-5 record that included a defeat of Clemson in the Music City Bowl.

Vanderbilt's Bobby Johnson also checks in at 2.0. Auburn's Tommy Tuberville, Georgia's Mark Richt and LSU's Les Miles are at 1.5. Dodd gives South Carolina's Steve Spurrier a 0.5 and accords perfect 0.0 scores to "untouchables" Urban Meyer (coming off a national title at Florida) and Nick Saban (newly hired at Alabama).

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