With the Kentucky Wildcats idle this week, I thought it might be fun to discuss the coaching situations at each of the SEC’s 14 member schools in a little game I like to call “Whose Seat is the Hottest?”
I’ll list each school and their head coach and we will classify each seat as hot, warm, or cold. Of course, the hotter the seat, the more likely that coach could be replaced.
C’mon, it’s fun for the whole family. Let’s play.
Alabama- Nick Saban. COLD.
If Ole Saint Nick’s seat was any colder, it’d have frost on it. Year after year, Saban produces excellence. He has his Crimson Tide in position yet again as a National Championship favorite and his roster littered with NFL-caliber talent. He’s not going anywhere until he decides to.
Arkansas- Sam Pittman. COLD.
The current favorite for SEC Coach of the Year, Pittman is turning the fortunes of the Razorback program each Saturday through excellent coaching and establishing a winning culture. It’s very possible the Hogs will be a problem in the SEC and nationally in the not too distant future.
Auburn- Gus Malzahn. HOT.
It seems like the head War Eagle is always teetering on the brink of losing his job each week but usually pulls it out of the fire some strange way. In all seriousness, Malzahn is a really good offensive coach who recruits well. The problem is Auburn plays in the same state like Alabama, so there will always be the inevitable comparisons to what is going on in Tuscaloosa.
Florida- Dan Mullen. COLD.
The newly minted SEC East favorite after drilling Georgia, Mullen is stirring the echoes of Urban and Spurrier and placing the Gators in the discussion for a BCS berth if they win out. They would have to beat Alabama in the SEC championship to get there, but behind Heisman candidate Kyle Trask and their pyrotechnic offense, it’s a possibility especially if the defense continues to improve.
Georgia- Kirby Smart. COLD.
Even though they lost to Florida, Smart’s level of recruiting and on-field defensive excellence guarantees he’s not going anywhere. The loss of Justin Fields to Ohio State hurts his quarterback situation right now, but rest assured Smart will remedy the situation either by recruiting a new one or developing what he has.
Kentucky- Mark Stoops. COLD.
Stoops is doing the impossible in Lexington; he’s building a quality SEC program in the place where many thought it would be impossible. He’s recruiting SEC-caliber talent, building a year in and year out a competitive defense and running game, and breaking all the streaks that seem to have haunted the Cats forever. Stoops has no reason to look over his shoulder.
LSU- Ed Orgeron. WARM.
I know its seems kind of weird to say a coach who is coming off a National Championship win has anything but a cold seat, but Orgeron is struggling in Baton Rouge due to a terrible defense built by Bo Pelini and a mass exodus of top NFL talent and a couple of crucial opt-outs. I believe Pelini will be dismissed after the season and the young guys Orgeron is playing now will be better next season. He’s not in danger by any means, but expectation levels will always stoke that fire under the coach’s seat.
Missouri- Eli Drinkwitz. COLD.
Drinkwitz has the Tigers going in the right direction, plus it’s his first season so there’s obviously a level of security unless you absolutely blow it. He hasn’t done anything to do that, so he’s in good shape in Columbia. The trick, though, is Drinkwitz is playing with most of the former coach Barry Odom’s recruits. When Drinkwitz gets his players there will tell the tale whether the Tigers have their man in the seat.
Mississippi State- Mike Leach. WARM.
Unless of course, your Leach, who has had a mass exodus of players leave the program, your best offensive player opt-out (Kylin Hill), and no semblance of a rushing game in the run-centric SEC. After blasting LSU in the season opener, the MSU Air Raid offense has struggled mightily, even in last week’s win over winless Vanderbilt. I’m not saying Leach is in trouble, but year two better be much improved across the board or the seat could get much hotter.
Ole Miss- Lane Kiffin. COLD.
Kiffin has brought a nuclear offense to Oxford and has the Rebel faithful excited. However, the Rebel defense has done its’ best impersonation of Swiss cheese and can’t stop anyone. Defensive coordinator DJ Durkin is on a short leash, especially since Kiffin’s father Monte designed the famous Tampa 2 defense that led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl victory. I don’t think Monte is coming back to college football, but I bet there are some Kiffin disciples on speed dial who’d love to come to Ole Miss and build that defense.
South Carolina- Will Muschamp. HOT.
Muschamp’s seat is hotter than the summer in Myrtle Beach. The Gamecocks are going backward in every phase of the game, the top recruits aren’t producing, and the fan base is screaming for a replacement as the top Gamecock. After Texas A&M’s 48-3 demolition of Carolina Saturday, the howls got louder and the seat even hotter. I think it’s likely there will be a change after the season and maybe by the time USC visits Kentucky later in the season.
Tennessee- Jeremy Pruitt. HOT.
After entering the season as the dark horse to win the SEC East, the Vols have been a bitter disappointment. The offense has been stymied by poor quarterback play and costly turnovers, the defense has had crucial penalties and breakdowns that have cost them dearly, and Pruitt and his staff have had some head-scratching decisions that haven’t helped either. All of this has caused a storm in Knoxville where patience is very thin for the team, especially after blowing a 13-0 lead at Arkansas Saturday night to lose 24-13. To his credit, Pruitt has upgraded the level of talent on Rocky Top, but it hasn’t been enough to right the ship.
Texas A&M- Jimbo Fisher. COLD.
After opening the season with a warm seat, Fisher has the Aggies in the top 10 and playing great football with their only blemish a loss to Alabama. Jimbo has his recruits in and his system in place, which could help to push the Aggies to at least the second-best program in the SEC West ahead of LSU. Can Fisher sustain the momentum is the question right now?
Vanderbilt- Derek Mason. HOT.
It’s pretty obvious that Mason will most likely be replaced as head coach in Nashville after the season, which is unfortunate. 2020 has been very difficult on the Dores across the board, from a COVID-19 outbreak to having to play a full 10-game SEC schedule. Vandy simply isn’t equipped to do that. But honestly, most teams wouldn’t be. I say that the toughest Power Five head coaching gig is Vanderbilt. Mason has had his team play as hard as they can, but he is just overmatched. It may be a relief to move on to another position frankly.