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SEC College Football Coaching Hot Seat

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Several SEC coaches could be fighting for their jobs in 2017.

Sumlin and Freeze may be looking for real estate agents real soon.
Sumlin and Freeze may be looking for real estate agents real soon.
Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The conclusion of this past college football season ended with the rare occasion of no SEC coach being fired. Les Miles was released after a 2-2 start, but no firings in December. In fact, outside of Texas and Oregon, there were very few high-profile firings throughout the Power 5 schools.

The SEC is in a strange era right now. There is Alabama and then there is everyone else. There is usually a Florida or an LSU or a Tennessee or an Auburn to stand up next to an Alabama. Thirteen SEC teams are searching for an identity right now and that identity starts with the head coach. Nick Saban is in the middle of a dynasty of epic proportions while every other team in the conference ebbs and flows in mediocrity, which is a direct reflection on the current coaches of the SEC. There are not too many of them that makes the turnstiles spin.

Remarkably, Dan Mullen is the second-longest tenured coach in the SEC. All other coaches have been at their school six seasons or less.

Head coach Team First year at School Years at school Overall record Record at school SEC record
Nick Saban Alabama 2007 11 210–61–1 119–19 68–12
Dan Mullen Mississippi State 2009 9 61–42 61–42 29–35
Hugh Freeze Ole Miss 2012 6 69–32 39–25 19–21
Kevin Sumlin Texas A&M 2012 6 79–38 44–21 21–19
Gus Malzahn Auburn 2013 5 44–21 35–18 18–14
Mark Stoops Kentucky 2013 5 19–30 19–30 8–24
Butch Jones Tennessee 2013 5 80–48 30–21 14–18
Bret Bielema Arkansas 2013 5 93–50 25–26 10–22
Derek Mason Vanderbilt 2014 4 13–24 13–24 5–19
Jim McElwain Florida 2015 3 41–24 19–8 13–3
Kirby Smart Georgia 2016 1 8–5 8–5 4–4
Will Muschamp South Carolina 2016 1 34–28 6–7 3–5
Ed Orgeron LSU 2016 1 22–29 6–2 4–2
Barry Odom Missouri 2016 1 4–8 4–8 2–6

Patience may be a virtue but not in 21st Century college football. It's all about win and win today. Most ADs will give their man a few seasons to get his footing under him, but it's all bets off after that.


It is telling as to the state of SEC football when Gus Malzahn and Will Muschamp are among the more secure in their current employment. There very well could be a bloodbath of firings after the upcoming campaign.

Hot seat

Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M - What is worse than the dreaded "vote of confidence"? It's when the AD comes right out and says "Coach knows he has to win and he has to win this year," as A&M athletic director Scott Woodward said on an appearance on the Paul Finebaum Show on a few weeks ago. Sumlin's effort have been underwhelming since Johnny Manziel left for the NFL Draft a wet t-shirt contest obscurity. He has gone 8-5 in each of the past three seasons, and is 1-11 versus Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss and MSU. It won't be an easy start for Sumlin with his Aggies facing UCLA and a healthy Josh Rosen in Week 1. Raging Inferno.

Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss - One heavy steel-tipped shoe has dropped in Oxford. We are just waiting on the other one. Freeze is the best and most successful coach WAOM has had since the guy they named the stadium after. That probably explains how Freeze is still employed at Ole Miss. A Wooden Chair That Has Been Soaking in Gasoline For a Year Waiting For a Match.

Mark Stoops, Kentucky - Bob's kid brother had a pretty decent season in 2016 (for UK standards), finally getting the Wildcats to a bowl game AND beating rival Louisville in Year 4. One of the bad things about success is that when you have a taste of it, you want more. Big Blue Nation has been convinced to hold back on bounceyballs for a few months and give this sport called football a look. But they are going to expect continued success. UK will need to return to postseason for him to survive. If he reverts back to 5-7, Bob might have a fishing buddy. A Wobbly Folding Chair Dangerously Close to the Campfire

Butch Jones, Tennessee - In Butch's two previous stops at Central Michigan and Cincinnati, he had some very good success. He inherited both teams from current Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly who left fully-stocked cupboards. Jones was not so lucky when his U-Haul pulled into Knoxville. His first two seasons at UT (5-7, 7-6) were pretty ugly. But that was a symptom of the previous regimes, right? He got a pass. In Year 3, his Vols went 9-4 with a bowl victory. 2016 was the same outcome but he is 0-4 vs Bama, 1-3 vs Fla and 2-2 vs Vandy. Firing a guy after back-to-back nine wins seasons sounds crazy, but what about back-to-back-to-back? What if he digresses to 8 or 7 wins? This upcoming season is Year 5 for Butch. There can be no more excuses of blaming his predecessors. This is all him. The one thing he has going for him is the new AD at Tennessee. A New Chair That Needs to be Broken In

Bret Bielema, Arkansas - Bert has a bad case of Jekyll & Hyde-idis in Fayetteville. On any given Saturday, anything can happen. In 2015 alone, his Hogs won at Tennessee, at Ole Miss and at LSU but lost home games to Toledo and Texas Tech. It is hard to get the temperature of Arky fans or the administration but you have to think they are getting a little weary of 6-loss seasons. Right? Hello? Does this school really exist? Has anyone actually been to Fayetteville to prove its existence?! There Is A Chair But It Is Owned By Schrödinger

Gus Malzahn Auburn - Gustavo has been living of the lustre of the 2010 Crystal Football and that second place trophy from 2013 for quite awhile now. He is 23-16 overall and winless against Bama and UGA since then. Once again, the press has awarded the Heisman Trophy to the Auburn quarterback, so hopes are high. Like Butch Jones, Malzahn is in Year 5. Mediocrity may not be good enough anymore.


The following four coaches are entering their second seasons coaching their troops. It is unlikely any of them get fired unless they pull an "Ellis Johnson" or an "Art Briles".

Ed Orgeron LSU - Not to stray too far from the main subject here but LSU AD Joe Alleva might be on a hot seat of his own. After the VERY public sandbox spat with Florida over the Hurricane Matthew game and with the basketball team being two degrees below dreadful (even with Ben Simmons on the team), you have to wonder if his time might be short in Baton Rouge. The promoting of Coach O from Interim Coach after the oddly timed firing of Les Miles was a baffling move – and one celebrated around the rest of the SEC. Alleva will not want to admit his mistake by firing Orgeron so soon. But then again, he did fire Miles four games too late. Who know what he'll do? One of Those Weird Kneeling Chairs That You're Not Quite Sure How It Works

Barry Odom Missouri - Speaking of head-scratchers, this hiring seemed a lazy one performed by an Athletic Director who had one foot out the door. New AD Jim Sterk, who was hired after Odom, would ruffle a lot of feathers if he came in and axed the fan favorite. So Mizzou is on the hook for $2.35 million for a guy that Memphis did not deem worthy of $2 million. It is hard to imagine Odom will ever do much more than 7-8 wins at Mizzou. Safe But the Crystal Ball Says "Rent, Don't Buy"

Will Muschamp South Carolina - After SC spectacularly failed at hiring a top-notch replacement for Steve Spurrier, it appeared they went home with the last girl left at the bar. But Coach Boom amazingly overachieved and got his team into a bowl. However, that means that expectations will be for an improvement in Year 2 in Columbia. That might be a tall order with Texas A&M, Arkansas, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida and Clemson on the docket. Decent Garage Sale Chair

Kirby Smart Georgia - UGA fired their long-time 10-win coach and finally got their Golden Boy. They won't be canning him anytime soon. Padded Folding Chair


Derek Mason Vanderbilt - When Mason was brought in three years ago, it was seen as a bit of a downgrade from James Franklin who was 24–15 in his three-year stint. Mason has not had nearly that level of success but 2016 was a good year from Vandy expectations. Reaching a bowl game was good. The sting of losing that bowl game (41-17 loss to NC State, Independence Bowl) was soothed by wins over UGA, Ole Miss and Glory Be Tennessee! Vanderbilt is a different kind of beast. Mason probably survives another 6-7 season. Heck, he might be safe with a 5-7 campaign, as long as everyone passes their classes and stays out of jail.  This


Jim McElwain Florida - All McElwain has done is win the SEC East in his first two seasons, something not done by a Gators team since Tim Tebow and Urban Meyer ruled Gainesville. However, there are some detractors who question why an offensive minded coach cannot get the offense or his quarterbacks on track, while the defense remains a top ten unit. Some critics credit the defense to departed Coach Muschamp. Additionally, there are the arse-whoopings his teams have taken to FSU and Bama the last two years. Despite all the noise, McElwain is pretty Safe for Now.

Dan Mullen Mississippi State - Starkville must be like the island on the TV show "Lost". Some good things happen. Some bad things happen. And a lot of weird things happen. There is plenty of food, shelter, and company for him. Mullen wants to leave but nobody wants to rescue him. The Nicest Chair that Starkville Stores Can Offer

Nick Saban Alabama - Do I even need to go here? It's the Big Comfy Chair for Saban.