2013 SEC Coaches
The Building Factor
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SEC Coaching Rebuild Rankings
Coach You Want To Build Around - Part 2
1. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
Career Record: 46-19
The hot coach at the hot program, his offense is explosive, his teams are fun, and he's doing the impossible by going toe-to-toe with Texas along with the SEC in recruiting and winning. While he had plenty of help from former offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury and the rest of the coaching staff, he has been a steady and honest hand through the transition to the new league. He knows what he has and he knows his team, and he's able to maximize the flash and dash in a league that lives on power and defense. From Johnny Manziel at A&M to Case Keenum at Houston, his offenses get production out of the quarterback, and all the top recruits are noticing.
Hot Seat Status: None. The expectations might be jacked through the roof now, but as long as the Aggies don't fall through the floor, eight wins is still more than fine in the nasty SEC West. However, A&M fans waiting for the big time are hoping for far more.
The Coaching Change Will Come … in 5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1. Sorry, A&M, but you're just renting. 49 this football season, he's the big prospect out there at the moment and destined for the NFL at some point
after one more huge year from his offense.
2. Nick Saban, Alabama
Career Record: 154-55-1
The only question mark is his age. While he's still going 100 miles per hour and is coming up with whopper recruiting class after whopping recruiting class, he's going to be 62 on Halloween. Yeah, you still want him to build your program for the next five years, but he became the perfect coach at the perfect place at the perfect time, and now the wheels are motion. With a second straight national title, a third in four years and fourth since 2003, his legendary status is cemented with more championships there for the taking.
Hot Seat Status: Yeah, right. It might be sacrilegious, but considering the nasty new world of college football with so many more programs across the country improving, the recruiting changes and the improvement of the SEC, a argument could be made that what he's coming up with an impressive short run that's almost as impressive – but not quite – as what the Bear did for over two decades.
The Coaching Change Will Come … in five years. Although don't discount him still hanging around into his 70s.
3. Les Miles, LSU
Career Record: 113-42
The guy is a damn strong football coach. While he's turning 60 this season, he's still a hot enough coach to be able to use the Arkansas job as leverage for more paper. At the moment, though, he has taken what Nick Saban kickstarted and made LSU into a perennial superpower with national title-or-bust expectations every season. How good are things? Clemson coming up with a last second win in the Chick-fil-A Bowl was a program maker for Dabo Swinney. No, really, how good are things? In his eight years he has won ten or more games six times with an 8-5 2008 and 9-4 2009 the "down" period.
Hot Seat Status: Mild. He'll have to come up with at least two straight total disasters to ever be fired, but he has helped create a monster. Now he's on a run of three bowl losses in the last four years after starting out 4-0, and while it wasn't really fair that LSU had to play a rematch for the 2011 national title, the program has taken a clear backseat status to Alabama.
The Coaching Change Will Come … when he's ready. He's getting too old to take over another program and get it rolling – he was never, ever going to go to Arkansas and the Michigan ship sailed. He'll be around for at least another five years.
4. James Franklin, Vanderbilt
Career Record: 15-11
Who steps into the SEC and says that Vanderbilt - Vanderbilt? - can be a real, live player in the SEC? The precocious 41-year-old has limitless energy, fire and excitement, coming out with every play and every facial expression. The ultimate player's coach, he's a hugger, a screamer and a salesman. The recruits and current players buy what he's pitching with two straight bowl wins and a nice 9-4 2012 season and top 20 finish. While he's doing a great job in Nashville, he has NFL potential.
Hot Seat Status: Zip. Anything other than a 3-9 clunker is okay at Vanderbilt as long as the team is interesting.
The Coaching Change Will Come … very, very soon. He was almost the Maryland head man a few years ago and his name is starting to come up for every big opening. While he might be more Pete Carroll than Bill Belichick as an NFL prospect – that's not a negative – he still has one more big college job before making the next step up.
5. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss
Career Record: 37-13
At the very least, he has everyone talking about Ole Miss football. Houston Nutt, Ed Orgeron, David Cutcliffe and Tommy Tuberville all made noise to various degrees, but Freeze seems to have the best combination of Orgeron's recruiting ability, Cutcliffe's coaching chops and Nutt's personality. In just one year he has been everything Rebel fans could've asked for with a win over Mississippi State, a bowl victory and a whopper of a recruiting class coming in. Still new to the FBS head coaching world with just one season at Arkansas State before his one season at Ole Miss, and turning 44 this season, he's just getting started.
Hot Seat Status: Hotter than you might think. Freeze might be hot right now, but the windsock can quickly blow the other way in Oxford. Ole Miss coaches get the Spinal Tap drummer treatment – it's a tough gig. The fan base is always trying to find the right guy to finally make the program a player with the biggest of the biggest SEC boys, but there's little patience for one or two bad seasons in the toughest division in college football.
The Coaching Change Will Come … within five years. While Freeze was born in Oxford and might have grown up with the program, if he does anything big in the next year or so, the money and opportunities will be too great.
6. Will Muschamp, Florida
Career Record: 18-8
Just when it seemed like he was able to show all the promise and potential that made him the hottest young head coaching prospect in college football a few years ago, the Gators didn't show up in the Sugar Bowl and got pantsed by an inferior Louisville team. Even so, turning 42 this August, he has a very, very long coaching career ahead of him and is still one of the top recruiters and one of the most brilliant defensive minds in all of football. The expectations might be through the roof for Florida head coaches, but last season – at least over the first 12 games - he showed what the team could potentially do on a regular basis.
Hot Seat Status: Hot. Remember, after a 7-6 first season there were some talking about 2012 as a make-or-break year, even though he was just getting started. If you're not winning at least ten games on a regular basis in Gainesville, you're not getting it done. Throw in the allegations and rumors from the latest Auburn scandal and the spotlight is on.
The Coaching Change Will Come … sooner than you might think. He's a good college head coach, but he has the make-up and mentality to be a better NFL head man. He might have only had one year in the big leagues as the Miami defensive coordinator, but his trajectory is still going up.
Coach You Want To Build Around - Part 2