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Story Archives: SEC coaches on the hot seat
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|SEC coaches on the hot seat|
So who is making the 2012 SEC Media Days their farewell address?
Bobby Petrino and Houston Nutt are the lone non-returners, although everyone seemed to think Dan Mullen was heading for Penn State.
And we can certainly cross off Nick Saban, Les Miles and Steve Spurrier from the list.
Mark Richt was supposedly on the hot seat last year, The longest tenured coach in the SEC (tied with Gary Pinkel) has had one losing season in his entire head-coaching career. The Bulldogs, under Jim Donnan and Ray Goff, failed to realize an opportunity to grow into the SEC power in the 1990s. While Alabama and LSU toiled, Florida and Tennessee took advantage and won titles.
Goff and Donnan claimed seven seasons of six wins or fewer and the program posted only two 10-win seasons from 1984 to 2001. Richt entered the game in 2001 and proceeded to win the programs' first conference title in 20 years in 2002. Richt posted two conference titles, six 10-wins seasons in his first eight years and won two SEC Coach of the Year Awards. However, Dawgs' faithful watched its team get worse four straight years from 2007 to 2011 while Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Florida were winning national titles and returning to national prominence in a big way. Richt adapted, though, by finally making sweeping coaching changes that have saved his job. Todd Grantham reinvented the Georgia defense and Richt got to his fourth SEC Championship game in 2011. He has his team poised to be the favorite to win the East once again this fall.
Hugh Freeze is a newbie, so he will certainly be back next year unless there is a total collapse or he borrows Petrino's motorcycle.
Mullen needs to have a good year. Well, maybe not a great year because that could work both ways.
Mullen is only 39 years old, so his best coaching years appear to be ahead of him. However, his overall record is just 21-17 and his only SEC West victories came against rival Ole Miss. While winning the in-state battle is crucial, the Bulldogs need to start beating some of the other teams in the division. Mullen has also led Mississippi State to back-to-back bowl victories and should be in position to reach the postseason once again in 2012. Considering the depth of the SEC, winning big in Starkville is no easy task. Give Mullen the resources of what Alabama or LSU has and he can take Mississippi State even higher. The Bulldogs have ranked higher than ninth in the SEC in recruiting only once in the last six years, yet have a better record over the last three seasons than Tennessee (18-20) — a team that consistently recruits better than Mississippi State. Mullen should not be judged on his overall record in the rugged SEC West. Consider he has helped turn State into a consistent bowl team in a very difficult SEC West. And added fuel to the fire in the Bulldogs' rivarly with that school up north.
Arkansas is led by interim coach John L. Smith and we all know how that works. Besides, with the talent the Hogs have returning, if doesn't make it to the SEC Championship Game he will have his critics, fair or unfair.
Smith has been placed into a very difficult situation, as he was promoted to interim coach after Bobby Petrino's firing in April.
James Franklin made the mistake of leading his team to three straight wins to start the season, including an impressive 30-7 win over Ole Miss. But the 'Dores lost five of their next six.
Franklin's six wins marked only the second time since 1982 that Vandy reached the plateau. The Dores scored 347 points last fall. It was the first time the Commodores had topped the 300-point mark since 1974 and it is the highest scoring Vanderbilt offense since 1915. Expectations will be higher in 2012.
Then there's Mr. Personality -- Gene Chizik. This Jeckyl and Hyde coach will need to lead his Tigers to a major bowl game or those who orginally thought the choice was way out there, will be back out louder than ever.
Takeaway the 14-0 season in 2010 and Chizik's career record is an underwhelming 21-29. After all, in the SEC, it's what have you done for me lately.
Florida coach Will Muschamp was part of a National Championship team as the architect of the LSU Tigers 2003 defense that allowed more than 19 points only once all season. He then followed head coach Nick Saban to the NFL for one season before landing as Tommy Tuberville's defensive coordinator at Auburn. While struggling in his first season last year, Muschamp closed his first recruiting cycle with the No. 3 class in the nation. The jury is still out on his coaching ability, but Muschamp will certainly put his heart and soul into his football team.
Former Louisiana Tech coach Derek Dooley entered his first big-time coaching gig at one of the worst situations in SEC history. And after one of the biggest goofballs in Lane Kiffin.
Other than the last two games of the 2011 season, a win over Vanderbilt and an pathetic showing in Lexington, Tennessee has won and lost every game it should have in two seasons.
Dooley will be feeling the heat if the Vols don't win often in Rocky Top land.
Pinkel has a great resume, having roomed with Jack Lambert at Pittsburgh and playing alongside Nick Saban at Kent State while receiving coaching from Don James.
Pinkel has won at least 10 games three times in the last five years.
Missouri fans should not expect that right off in the SEC.
Texas A&M made a great move hiring Kevin Sumlin back to College Station. Sumlin comes to Texas A&M after spending four years as the head coach at Houston. The Cougars went 35-17 under his watch and made three bowl appearances. A&M has been patient with most of its coaches in the past. That patience will pay off as A&M benefits from being a part of the SEC and using the money wisely to update its facilities, making them look as good as that fabulous Blue Bell baseball park
Joker Phillips may have the joke on him if the Wildcat football team cannot keep its fans minds off of basketball.
I really like what Phillips brings to the table. But he is going to have to bring it to the field this year as fans will not have happy with losses to Louisville, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, not to mention Western Kentucky and Samford.
Best of luck to all the coaches. As the saying goes, "some gotta win, some gotta lose." Those who lose may end up with the blues.
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