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College Football Around The SEC: The Coaches

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One head has rolled? Might there be more? Might Florida pilfer from a fellow SEC team?

It's like looking in a Bizarro mirror.
It's like looking in a Bizarro mirror.
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
Win-Loss Record key:
  • SEC - conference record
  • P5 - non-SEC record against Power 5
  • MM - record against Mid Majors/Non-Power 5 but projected bowl participant
  • CC - record against cupcakes
Florida Gators (5-4, SEC 4-4, P5 0-0, MM 0-0, CC 1-0)

Eastern Kentucky at Florida 11:00am CT / 12:00pm ET - SEC Network*

When Will Muschamp was hired to head up the Gators in 2011, he was thought of as one of the great young defensive minds in the country. In his second season, he won the SEC East and led UF to 11–2. An excellent recruiter, he had top five classes in 2012 and 2013, plus a top ten in 2014. Then came the 2013 faceplant of 4-8 which included a homecoming loss to then-FCS Georgia Southern during a 7-game losing streak. After consecutive home losses to LSU and Mizzou this season, the writing was on the wall.

* Game may be on SEC Network Alternative channel. Check local listings.

Mississippi State Bulldogs (9-1, SEC 5-1, P5 0-0, MM 0-0, CC 4-0)

Vanderbilt at Mississippi State 6:30pm CT / 7:30pm ET - SEC Network

As a former Urban Meyer assistant at three stops including 2005–2008 as Florida's offensive coordinator, many Gators fans feel it is a natural choice for Mullen to leave StarkVegas for the sparkling shores of Gainesville, FL. If UF wants to make this happen, they will likely have to open the purse strings. As of the beginning of the 2014 season, Muschamp was making only $34,500 more than the Bullies coach.

So, where is the 42-year old's head at right now? For his first five seasons at MSU, Mullen went 5-7, 9-4, 7-6, 8-5, and 7-6 with a 3-1 bowl record. The Clanga-clangs were perfectly fine with this and absolutely ecstatic with what the team has done this year. However, this year's squad has 13 senior starters and two juniors (Benardrick McKinney, Dak Prescott) who might just go pro. There is going to be some drop-off nest season. Does he go for the big fat paycheck in the spotlight or stay complacent where 8 wins is hunky-dory with the locals?

Georgia Bulldogs (8-2, SEC 6-2, P5 1-0, MM 0-0, CC 1-0)

Charleston Southern at Georgia 11:00am CT / 12:00pm ET - SEC Network*

It may or may not surprise you to know that Mark Richt is the senior coach in the league in the midst of his 14th season at UGA. It is the only head coaching job he has ever had. Richt is a good honest man and a good coach but he just can't seem to get the Bulldogs over the hump. He compiles teams full of phenomenal athletes but there is always two or more games per season he has no business losing. Some Georgia boosters have been calling for his ouster for years. They missed out on a perfect chance after he went 8-5 in 2009 and 6-7 in 2010. It is quite a dilemma: how do you fire a guy who wins at a 74% (134–47) clip and goes to bowl games every year?

* Game may be on SEC Network Alternative channel. Check local listings.

LSU Tigers (7-4, SEC 3-4, P5 1-0, MM 0-0, CC 3-0)

LSU has a bye.

Mark Richt and Les Miles are different in MANY ways but reside in a similar predicament. Miles is a flaky mad hatter who excels at compiling strong defenses but much like Richt, he always has those confounding losses despite having a team of 4 and 5 star athletes. One theory is that Miles recruits "wants" over "needs" (see: the LSU 2014 quarterbacks). There has been some grumbling in Baton Rouge that after 10 seasons, Miles might be wearing out his welcome. But here again, how do you dump a guy who has won 78% of his games? He turned down his alma mater Michigan once before. Might he change his mind once UM's booster break open their piggy banks?

Auburn Tigers (7-3, SEC 4-3, P5 1-0, MM 0-0, CC 2-0)

Samford at Auburn 6:00pm CT / 7:00pm ET - ESPNUESPNU

Gus Malzahn has been a media darling ever since he burst onto the scene as offensive coordinator at Arkansas in 2005. People though Houston Nutt was pulling a fast one by hiring the high school coach of then-5-star Mitch Mustain, so that the QB would come along to Arkansas (he did but later transferred and disappeared). Malzahn has had a meteoric rise to become head coach at Auburn. He was widely credited with the Tigers' 2010 run and backed it up in his first year as head coach on the Plains last season. However, the defenses of the SEC are starting to catch up with his crafty offenses. He will need to continue to evolve his schemes if he hopes to stay in the upper echelon. He is still a hot coaching commodity around the nation... for now.

Ole Miss Rebels (8-2, SEC 4-2, P5 0-0, MM 1-0, CC 3-0)

Ole Miss at Arkansas 2:30 PM CT / 3:30 PM ET – CBS

Hugh Freeze has a story very similar to Malzahn: young high school coach (coached Michael Oher from The Blind Side fame), made a jump to college assistant to head coach at Arkansas State and then to SEC head man. Freeze astounded the college football world by corralling top recruits from outside the Magnolia State - an almost unheard of act. The 2014 team could be one of the strongest Rebels squads of all time. They looked like world-beaters but probably celebrated their new success a bit too much and lost focus. Blame the two game losing streak on his youth and inexperience on the big stage. Florida won't be the only program trying to lure him away.

Tennessee Volunteers (5-5, SEC 2-4, P5 0-1, MM 2-0, CC 1-0)

Missouri at Tennessee 6:30pm CT / 7:30pm ET - ESPNESPN

Yet another promising young coach in the conference, Butch Jones inherited a bit of a mess in Knoxville. Now in his second season he hopes to get the Vols to a bowl game for the first time since the 2010 season. He has recruited pretty well and the team looks improved but the demanding fan base want to get back to national prominence. A 6 or 7 win season in 2015 will make the natives restless.

Texas A&M Aggies (7-4, SEC 3-4, P5 0-0, MM 0-0, CC 4-0)

Texas A&M has a bye.

This season is the first in which Kevin Sumlin has starting quarterbacks that he recruited and signed. Both Case Keenum at Houston and Johnny Manziel were signed by his predecessors. His recruits, Kenny Hill and Kyle Allen, have had their ups and downs in 2014. His recruiting has trumped Texas and the other Big 12 schools but Sumlin has been living off the JFF-mania now in his third season in College Station. Next season will be a pivotal season. He is not on the hot seat but it could define what kind of coach he is without a star at quarterback. However, I get the feeling that Sumlin might want to make a jump to the NFL real soon. Just a hunch.

Arkansas Razorbacks (5-5, SEC 1-5, P5 1-0, MM 1-0, CC 2-0)

Ole Miss at Arkansas 2:30 PM CT / 3:30 PM ET – CBS

It feels like Bret Bielema has been at Arkansas for years. Maybe that is because we have had such fun comparing him to a grown-up Beavis. However, this is only his second season in Hogville and he just won his first SEC game. It's a long road to recovery from the mess Bobby Petrino left in his wake but it looks like there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. Aside from Josh Frazier who Nick Saban signed this past February, "Bert" has put up a fence around the state recruiting-wise. The Hogs fans are giving him a pass for now. He should get at least two more years to show significant improvement.

Vanderbilt Commodores (3-7, SEC 0-6, P5 0-0, MM 0-0, CC 3-1)

Vanderbilt at Mississippi State 6:30pm CT / 7:30pm ET - SEC Network

I have always had a special interest and a soft spot for Vandy since I have some kinfolk who went there. As a casual fan, I was not too excited with the hiring of Derek Mason to keep the James Franklin momentum going. The Arizona native and first-time head coach has no ties to the SEC or the south in general. He served one year as defensive backs coach on Jim Harbaugh's last Stanford team after several short stints around the west and a couple of years with the Minnesota Vikings. Mason was promoted to associate head coach and co-defensive coordinator under new head coach David Shaw but now Shaw's star is starting to dim. Mason seems like a nice intelligent man but I just don't think he has the grit to succeed in the SEC. But after the Robbie Caldwell disaster in 2010 and Franklin's departure after three seasons, Vandy might be willing to give him time to grow into the position. That's too bad for 'Dores fans.

Kentucky Wildcats (5-6, SEC 2-6, P5 0-0, MM 0-0, CC 3-0)

Kentucky has a bye.

Mark Stoops has the famous last name and actually has 'Cats fans thinking about something other than basketball for a few seconds in the day. He even convinced some rich suckers into ponying up $45 million for a new football training facility. That was before UK went on their current 5-game losing streak that might go to six when they face Louisville on November 29. He has amped up recruiting but is only 7–16 (2–14) in one+ seasons. Speaking of the Wildcats, did you see the beat down the basketball team handed #5 Kansas Tuesday night? See? Even I can't hold interest in UK football.

South Carolina Gamecocks (5-5, SEC 3-5, P5 0-0, MM 1-0, CC 1-0)

South Alabama at South Carolina 11:00am CT / 12:00pm ET - ESPN3ESPN 3

Regardless of what you think about Steve Spurrier, there is no denying he has had a great coaching career and is always entertaining in interviews. He has taken the Gamecocks to great heights that include 0 losing seasons and three consecutive 11-2 seasons (2011-2013) that found SC ranked in the final top 10 polls. At 69 years of age with five losses already on the docket, one has to wonder if he might be ready to hang it up rather than tarnish his image (and ego).

Missouri Tigers (8-2, SEC 5-1, P5 0-1, MM 0-0, CC 3-0)

Missouri at Tennessee 6:30pm CT / 7:30pm ET - ESPNESPN

Gary Pinkel continues to defy the critics by not only competing in the SEC but winning the 2013 East Division title in the Tigers' second SEC season and has them poised to win a second in a row this season. At 62, he is likely at his last coaching stop as long as he wins and gets to bowl games. His age probably prevents anyone from luring him away.

Alabama Crimson Tide (9-1, SEC 6-1, P5 1-0, MM 0-0, CC 2-0)

Western Carolina at Alabama 3:00 PM CT / 4:00 PM ET - SEC Network

It doesn't take an Alabama fan to tell you that Nick Saban is the best active college football coach and one of the greatest all time. At age 63 and at the peak of his career, he is in the rare position of being able to call his own shots from now into perpetuity. Nick and his wife, Miss Terry, are beyond happy with their positions in life and are not likely to leave Tuscaloosa for any amount of money.