There are 32 teams in the NFL. This year seven teams in that league have changed or will change head coaches. That is just over 21% of the league.
Percentage wise, the pros have nothing on the SEC. Six of the league’s fourteen teams made a change in 2017. That’s about 43%, more than double The League.
Look, you’ve seen the commercials. There’s no time to rebuild. No rest for the wicked. It just means more here!
So let’s look at the eight guys that survived...hell, make it 9 and include Matt Luke at Ole Miss. How safe are they headed into 2018? We’ll break them into tiers like we did we back before the 2017 season began.
TIER 1: NICK SABAN
- Nick Saban (Alabama) - Six national titles. Successfully held off the heir apparent by making a personnel change that no one without Nick Saban-level job security would. Is still Nick Saban.
- Kirby Smart (Georgia) - Technically is not Nick Saban...but still. Kirby is hoarding elite quarterbacks like my father hoards soy sauce and hot mustard packets. Clearly that team has all the talent it needs to be a juggernaut and keeps bringing in more. It’s only a matter of time before they are the big bully of the conference.
TIER 2: SAFE
- Barry Odom (Missouri) - Admittedly, I was among the people that thought the 2017 Missouri Tigers may have been one of the worst SEC teams ever through their first six games. But Odom let Josh Heupel use his weapons (namely Drew Locke) to dig the team out of a hole and got them to a .500 conference record and bowl eligibility. Add in the grace period of breaking in new OC Derek Dooley (don’t everyone laugh too loudly) and Odom has nothing to worry about this season.
- Matt Luke (Ole Miss) - The school cannot do any better right now. This is like Mike Shula taking over at Alabama in 2003. The school has a storm to weather, so they bring in a “member of the family” to score points with fans. When the sanctions are safely in the rearview, they will try to make a bigger splash.
- Will Muschamp (South Carolina) - Alright, say it with me Gamecock fans. Yes, this team overachieved in 2017. But look at the roster for 2018. Hayden Hurst is gone, but the top 7 rushers, nearly 80% of their receiving yards, and a veteran quarterback all return and are under new, hopefully more competent guidance. The question will be how does the defense replace emotional and statistical leaders. Another 9-win season is not out of the question.
TIER 3: COULD GO EITHER WAY
- Gus Malzahn (Auburn) - This fan base has no idea what it wants from this coach. They have no concept of what is realistic when your two chief rivals are juggernauts. I mean, in the span of just over a month the school went from being in love with Malzahn to regretting the big money extension they gave him. Auburn fans are a weird bunch.
- Mark Stoops (Kentucky) - The bloom was quickly off the rose on Stoops after starting 5-1 and then closing the season at 7-6, including a loss to lowly Ole Miss and a blowout at the hands of rival Louisville. And while things kind of went in reverse in 2016, it is starting to feel like 7-6 is Stoops’ ceiling.
TIER 4: ASS CURRENTLY AFLAME
- Ed Oregon (LSU) - On a recent episode of PAPN Steven Godfrey said that the Auburn win this year may have saved Orgeron’s job. Look, he is a feel good story. He is a walking Louisiana stereotype, but the fanbase and boosters aren’t behind him the way the internet is. This feels like they are just waiting for the next inexcusable loss to pull the trigger.
- Derek Mason (Vanderbilt) - He is 18-31 in four seasons. “But it’s Vanderbilt,” you say. The coach before him went to three bowls in three years. It’s not a hopeless situation. I just don’t know if that “grind ‘em into dust” style that works so well for Bama and UGA will ever work at the back end of the conference.