clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Power Ranking SEC Jobs

New, 10 comments

From 1-14, how do SEC jobs stack up?

NCAA Football: Georgia at Tennessee
There are three openings we know about and potentially three more on the horizon.
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

The SEC coaching fraternity will welcome at least three new members next season. If you follow the rumblings of the rumor mill, that number could grow to as many as six by the end of the season.

As fans of the conference, we’re sometimes blinded to the realities of these jobs. Not all of them are significant upgrades over jobs in other Power 5 conferences. Hell, there are at least two jobs in the conference that I am comfortable saying a coach shouldn’t leave a good Group of Five situation for.

Florida might have its pick of candidates. If history is any indication, Tennessee will offer its job to Jon Gruden. He will say no, then the Vols will start interviewing anyone that owns a whistle. And God only knows how the Ole Miss search will play out. What is certain is that the coaching carousel is already spinning and the SEC is going to be the motor that keeps it going well into next month.

So what are the realities of SEC jobs? Where do they stack up 1-14 and how appealing is each position in the national landscape? I got time and thoughts, so let’s rank ‘em!

14. MISSOURI

There is no way you can slice the Mizzou job to make it look appealing. Where do you recruit from? Texas? You’re not exactly close. In state? Not enough talent. Illinois? Not enough talent.

Add to that the cultural climate on campus. When you have the football team stand up and say “the school’s administration enables racists,.” it may be a tad difficult to convince black parents to let their sons go to school there.

There isn’t a whole lot of history to sell a potential candidate either. All of Missouri’s recent success came under a single coach and he’s not even in the game anymore.

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Missouri
Can Barry Odom do better than Mizzou? Maybe not, but Mizzou probably can’t do better than Barry Odom either.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

SHOULD YOU LEAVE ANOTHER POWER 5 JOB FOR IT? No.

SHOULD YOU LEAVE A GOOD GROUP OF 5 JOB FOR IT? No.

SHOULD YOU GIVE UP A COORDINATOR JOB AT A GOOD POWER 5 PROGRAM FOR IT? No.

13. VANDERBILT

Vandy is a hard sell, but it might not be as hard a sell as Mizzou. Yes, the school has academic restrictions that its conference rivals do not, but it also has the benefit of being in Nashville. It’s not a recruiting hot bed, but there is something to sell to kids that come from Alabama, Northern Florida, and any Georgia city not named Atlanta. And those academic restrictions can sell their parents!

Now, the reality is of course, that if your name isn’t James Franklin, the ceiling at Vandy will always be six wins, maybe seven. This is a Power 5 job in a football first conference, and yet it will never rise above stepping-stone-status.

NCAA Football: Alabama at Vanderbilt
Oh, also you’ll never have a home crowd advantage. Not even in your own stadium.
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

SHOULD YOU LEAVE ANOTHER POWER 5 JOB FOR IT? No.

SHOULD YOU LEAVE A GOOD GROUP OF 5 JOB FOR IT? No.

SHOULD YOU GIVE UP A COORDINATOR JOB AT A GOOD POWER 5 PROGRAM FOR IT? Maybe, but you have to be used to dealing with recruiting restrictions.

12. MISSISSIPPI STATE

Look, multiple coaches have put up 8 and 9 win seasons in Starkville. It isn’t a wasteland...I mean it is, but the job isn’t hopeless. The reality though is that Mississippi State is the SEC’s poorest school by more than $100 million! Add to that the failings of the Mississippi public education system, and there isn’t enough in state talent there either.

The school will always be able to steal a few three-star guys and the occasional four-star from Alabama and Louisiana, but historically Mississippi State has relied on JUCO players heavier than any other SEC program. There’s nothing wrong with that per say, but can you build a reliable pipeline that way?

Look, Dan Mullen has been great. There’s a reason he is the hottest name in the SEC right now and State fans should be proud of that, but they also have to realize they can’t keep him in StarkVegas forever. Hell, the town doesn’t even have a Target!

He’s already tried to leave twice, and without Greg Byrne leading this coaching search, I am not sure where to even think it starts. The Bulldogs’ last two football coaching searches were absolute crap shoots. One yielded gold. The other yielded the opposite of gold.

Mississippi State v Southern Miss
On the plus side, this is one of the few SEC jobs that comes with a puppy.
Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images

SHOULD YOU LEAVE ANOTHER POWER 5 JOB FOR IT? No.

SHOULD YOU LEAVE A GOOD GROUP OF 5 JOB FOR IT? No.

SHOULD YOU GIVE UP A COORDINATOR JOB AT A GOOD POWER 5 PROGRAM FOR IT? Maybe

11. OLE MISS

Ole Miss deals with many of the same problems as Mississippi State: The recruiting base is historically lousy. It doesn’t have the same facilities that many of its neighbors do. Is there something I’m forgetting?

Oh yeah. That.

And that.

And that.

Mississippi v Auburn
Matt Luke, pictured here looking at a scoreboard, realizing he will not be employed much longer.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

SHOULD YOU LEAVE ANOTHER POWER 5 JOB FOR IT? No.

SHOULD YOU LEAVE A GOOD GROUP OF 5 JOB FOR IT? No.

SHOULD YOU GIVE UP A COORDINATOR JOB AT A GOOD POWER 5 PROGRAM FOR IT? Maybe...but certainly no for the next few years.

10. TENNESSEE

Tennessee fans believe this job is on par with Florida, LSU and Alabama. It is not. A lot of SEC fans believe the job is on par with Clemson or Ohio State. It is not. The difference between Tennessee and those jobs is that all of those other schools have won or played for a title in the last decade. Three of them you could realistically see playing for a title again in the next 1-3 years. Tennessee? No and no.

This is a bad job. Maybe that’s a little harsh, but it certainly isn’t a good job. The grand history and tradition of Tennessee is one five year stretch in which they had the best coach and QB the school has ever known and it just so happened that their biggest rival was at a historical low point.

Why did we need two hands to count the number of coaches that said no to Tennessee in its last coaching search? Because the expectations and the potential do not line up. If I were a hot coordinator that was approached by Tennessee, I would take a hard pass, because it is the kind of job that can derail a promising career.

NCAA Football: South Carolina at Tennessee
It has been scientifically proven that this is the happiest anyone that is the head coach at Tennessee is capable of being.
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

SHOULD YOU LEAVE ANOTHER POWER 5 JOB FOR IT? No.

SHOULD YOU LEAVE A GOOD GROUP OF 5 JOB FOR IT? No.

SHOULD YOU GIVE UP A COORDINATOR JOB AT A GOOD POWER 5 PROGRAM FOR IT? Nope.

9. KENTUCKY

This is a “careful what you wish for” situation. The Kentucky football job is a very low stress position. Hell, Mark Stoops posted three losing seasons before the words “hot seat” were ever even spoken. It’s a place where seven wins twice in a five-year span is enough to get a contract extension.

The flip side of that coin is Kentucky is a basketball school and state, so you’ll never really have everything you need in terms of facilities. Or maybe more realistically, you will only ever have what you need and not the flashy toys to keep up with the rest of the conference.

Now, one interesting thing here is that Kentucky sits in a pretty good recruiting area. It borders the prospect-rich states of Ohio and Virginia. Add to that the exposure the program gets in Florida and Georgia by virtue of being in the conference and Kentucky has more recruiting advantages than you thought.

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Kentucky
This seems about the right level of enthusiasm for Kentucky football.
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

SHOULD YOU LEAVE ANOTHER POWER 5 JOB FOR IT? No.

SHOULD YOU LEAVE A GOOD GROUP OF 5 JOB FOR IT? Probably not, but let’s take the interview and see if the AD has a plan.

SHOULD YOU GIVE UP A COORDINATOR JOB AT A GOOD POWER 5 PROGRAM FOR IT? Yes, but have a staff in mind that can recruit the key areas.

8. ARKANSAS

I feel weird putting Arkansas this high, because I don’t think this is a very good job. There isn’t enough talent to recruit in Arkansas. Nick Saban and his staff have firmly entrenched the Tide in Louisiana, so you aren’t the top choice for that spill-over talent. You were never the top choice for spill-over talent from Texas and now you aren’t even the best option for Texas kids that want to play in the SEC. Oh by the way, you’re also at the beckon call of Jerry Jones and you have to give up two home games a year to go play in Little Rock, because ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Now, on the plus side you have great facilities. The school is fond of overpaying. And you have a hand sign now, so that’s a thing. There are upsides to this job off the field, but on the field, what is the ceiling? History says if Alabama, LSU or Auburn is in a down swing, Arkansas is capable of filling that spot in the yearly scrap.

University of Arkansas Introduces Bret Bielema
So someone else will probably be in this position next month.
Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

SHOULD YOU LEAVE ANOTHER POWER 5 JOB FOR IT? No. Bret had to learn that the hard way.

SHOULD YOU LEAVE A GOOD GROUP OF 5 JOB FOR IT? Probably. I mean again, that cash, son.

SHOULD YOU GIVE UP A COORDINATOR JOB AT A GOOD POWER 5 PROGRAM FOR IT? Yeah I think so...maybe. Depends on how much you’re making as a coordinator.

7. SOUTH CAROLINA

Hey look! We’re in the top half! Geographically, Carolina is in a great spot. Charlotte is becoming a nice talent pool in recent years. Prospects from all over North Carolina have been passing over the Tar Heel state’s ACC Big 4 in recent years in favor of South Carolina, Clemson, or Virginia Tech. Plus, Georgia is full of talent.

The school just got a new practice facility in 2015. The relationship with Under Armor, combined with the splash hire of Steve Spurrier, raised the program’s profile to a level it had never experienced. Let’s not overlook the other obvious advantage. You’re in the East, which is winnable every year.

Now, is Columbia the coolest town on Earth? No, but it is cooler than Auburn or Tuscaloosa or Gainesville or Lexington or Starkville. A social life is not out of the realm of possibility for an 18 year old.

Tennessee v South Carolina
All those uniforms! Your wardrobe will be huge!
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

SHOULD YOU LEAVE ANOTHER POWER 5 JOB FOR IT? No, at least not a good one.

SHOULD YOU LEAVE A GOOD GROUP OF 5 JOB FOR IT? Yes. As long as the money is right.

SHOULD YOU GIVE UP A COORDINATOR JOB AT A GOOD POWER 5 PROGRAM FOR IT? Yes, but if you have a high paid coordinator gig, you may want to stay put. SC can be a grind if you don’t live up to expectations quickly.

6. AUBURN

The littlest little brother in the conference, if not the whole sport. Auburn actually could be a top three job in the conference if the board of directors would just get out of the AD’s way.

Auburn hasn’t made a splash hire in a long time, because the board insists on the football coach being part of the family. That may have lead to some misfires (I’m still not totally sold on Malzahn as a great head coach), it has also lead to a national title and an environment of unwavering support so long as you lean into it.

Most of Tommy Tubberville’s success came when Bama was mired in NCAA hell, but since then we have seen the Tigers play for two national titles and win one. Plus, they win a lot of big recruiting and transfer battles.

NCAA Football: Georgia at Auburn
Look at this nerd.
John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

SHOULD YOU LEAVE ANOTHER POWER 5 JOB FOR IT? Hmmm...maybe. You would have to be really good at what you do though, because the second Auburn is good, Bama will throw a lot of money around to get even better.

SHOULD YOU LEAVE A GOOD GROUP OF 5 JOB FOR IT? Yes, unless you live in a cool city, because as a town Auburn blows.

SHOULD YOU GIVE UP A COORDINATOR JOB AT A GOOD POWER 5 PROGRAM FOR IT? Yes

5. TEXAS A&M

When A&M joined the SEC they decided to go big. Read Dennis Dodd’s profile about all the cash that was poured into the program to help get it out of a burnt orange shadow.

The program has money. It has alums hungry for a winner and willing to pay to find that winner. You are the SEC’s Texas school. You get a yearly date in Jerry World. Geographically, you’re set up to pull kids out of Houston and New Orleans at will.

Yell leaders and the worst hand signal in all of sports aside, this is a really good job. You’re going to be adidas’ focus within the SEC and if the company has the same devotion to their football programs that it does to its basketball programs, the results could be great...you know, until the Feds show up.

NCAA Football: New Mexico at Texas A&M
The fact that these guys are considered campus celebrities may be a bit off-putting for some candidates.
C. Morgan Engel-USA TODAY Sports

SHOULD YOU LEAVE ANOTHER POWER 5 JOB FOR IT? Yes. Especially if you have done all you can at a school that isn’t a traditional power.

SHOULD YOU LEAVE A GOOD GROUP OF 5 JOB FOR IT? Yes

SHOULD YOU GIVE UP A COORDINATOR JOB AT A GOOD POWER 5 PROGRAM FOR IT? Yes

4. ALABAMA

Shocked this job isn’t hire? Well, think back about ten years ago before Mal Moore essentially stalked the Saban family across South Florida. This was an okay job with fans and boosters that didn’t understand that it wasn’t 1978 anymore.

Bama fans should say a little prayer everyday to thank God for bringing Nick Saban to town to modernize the way this program does business. From 1997 to 2006 Alabama was adrift. Now it is one of Nike’s marquee football schools. It has one of the most dynamic strength and conditioning teams in the country. The football facility has its own waterfall. Add to all of that the fact that Alabama has become one of the better states in the country for producing college football prospects, and you’ve got a program that should never go wanting for top prospects.

Plus, the next football coach at Alabama will be working for Greg Byrne, considered by many to be the Nick Saban of athletic directors. This is a job a lot of people will have their eye on when it comes open.

NCAA Football: Alabama at Vanderbilt
That should say “if it comes open.” Nick Saban will likely coach until he dies and then scream at God until he is allowed to keep coaching from beyond the grave.
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

SHOULD YOU LEAVE ANOTHER POWER 5 JOB FOR IT? Yes, but understand that we have now entered the realm of expectations being unlike most places. So be positive you have what you need to win, otherwise it will be a very short tenure.

SHOULD YOU LEAVE A GOOD GROUP OF 5 JOB FOR IT? Absolutely.

SHOULD YOU GIVE UP A COORDINATOR JOB AT A GOOD POWER 5 PROGRAM FOR IT? Yes, but given the ego of Alabama boosters, you probably won’t get the chance.

3. FLORIDA

It’s “The University of” in the state of five star prospects. It’s a place where even the not so good coaches have multiple ten win seasons. Geographically, Florida has every advantage in the world. In the media, they have Steve Spurrier and Tim Tebow singing its praises. Florida should be the clear number one in this list.

The reason it isn’t, is the same thing that got Jim McElwain fired. Until recently, Florida didn’t spend a lot on football. Their facilities lagged behind in terms of quality and makeup. They didn’t put a ton of money (by comparison, of course) into recruiting because they didn’t really have to.

McElwain demanded that change. It did. He still questioned the athletic department’s commitment to him, and boom! We have a marquee opening in the SEC! Make no mistake, this will likely be the best job opening in the country this offseason!

NCAA Football: Missouri at Florida
I am positive this line will be said to every candidate in every interview this offseason!
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

SHOULD YOU LEAVE ANOTHER POWER 5 JOB FOR IT? Yes. You have a natural advantage that maybe only Texas can match.

SHOULD YOU LEAVE A GOOD GROUP OF 5 JOB FOR IT? Yes. No question about it!

SHOULD YOU GIVE UP A COORDINATOR JOB AT A GOOD POWER 5 PROGRAM FOR IT? Yes, and history says that the right coordinator might actually get a call about this job.

2. GEORGIA

In a high school football hotbed? Check!

Neighboring another high school football hotbed? Check! Twice!

Is the history insurmountable? Nope, and that is a good thing! Sure, you have to deal with the legend of Herschel and there will always be pressure to have at least one five-star back, but Georgia is hungry for success.

Now, you may look at UGA firing Mark Richt as a sign of an unrealistic and hard to please fan base. I would argue that it was the result of a savvy athletic director that realized Richt took the program as far as he could and the ideal replacement was literally begging to come there.

NCAA Football: Georgia at Florida
Georgia coach Kirby Smart, pictures here looking at a rainbow and remembering he has sherbet in the freezer at home.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

SHOULD YOU LEAVE ANOTHER POWER 5 JOB FOR IT? Yes

SHOULD YOU LEAVE A GOOD GROUP OF 5 JOB FOR IT? Yes

SHOULD YOU GIVE UP A COORDINATOR JOB AT A GOOD POWER 5 PROGRAM FOR IT? Yes

1. LSU

To me, there is no doubt who has the best coaching job in the SEC, which makes it all the crazier that Joe Alleva just gave it to a guy because he wanted it. By now, surely you’ve heard about Louisiana high school football’s NFL pedigree. LSU is also in a good position to steal top kids from Texas.

As for exposure, LSU has created its own brand beyond that of the SEC. Night time football in Death Valley is a virtual guarantee for ESPN’s Saturday schedule in the fall. Your state won’t spend money on much when it comes to public education, but it does spend on LSU facilities and recruiting and marketing!

We haven’t even mentioned the creature comforts that come along with the job yet! Where is the best food in the SEC? Louisiana. Who has the best native music in the SEC? Louisiana. Best region-specific holiday in the SEC? Mardi Gras, which was started in Alabama but has been co-opted by and turned into a brand in? Louisiana!

Florida v LSU
Plus this job comes with its own tiger!
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

SHOULD YOU LEAVE ANOTHER POWER 5 JOB FOR IT? Ouí

SHOULD YOU LEAVE A GOOD GROUP OF 5 JOB FOR IT? Of carse, mon amí

SHOULD YOU GIVE UP A COORDINATOR JOB AT A GOOD POWER 5 PROGRAM FOR IT? A long, indecipherable jumble of Cajun French followed by the word “yes”.