top of page

Why Would Anyone Want to be an SEC Football Coach Outside the Money??

((Jim McElwain/Wikipedia))

On the heels this weekend of The University of Florida "Agreeing to Part Ways" with now former Head Coach Jim McElwain (pictured above) and the constant specter of The University of Tennessee about to fire Coach Butch Jones---we raise this question---Why in the hell would anyone want to be an SEC Football Coach right now??

Think about it. Is there any job in America with LESS job security than that of an SEC Football Coach?

McElwain lasted 3 seasons at Florida. He won the mediocre SEC East title twice, his record in Gainesville 22-12. This was his 3rd season. No, he wasn't going to win the East this year, but is that now the bar for job security??

Jones has had less success at Tennessee---he's 33-26 now 8 games into his 5th season with a team who feels they should be competing for the title every season--but the Volunteers haven't even made the SEC title game since 2002 (15-years).

These are the two most current examples--but there are likely to be at minimum 5 SEC Coaching jobs available when the College Coaching Carousel begins in December. Bret Bielema, Matt Luke (Ole Miss) and Kevin Sumlin (Texas A&M) are all also likely to be unemployed come December. Auburn could still fire Gus Malzahn too depending how they finish this season. Luke is an interim coach--so he likely will be just fine and really doesn't fit in this category.

But the others do. SEC Athletic Directors/Schools appear to have an endless supply of money---seemingly non-hesitant to pay buyouts if the current coach isn't making the persnickety and unreasonable alumni happy. And this year--outside Nick Saban at Alabama and Kirby Smart at Georgia....there are at least a handful of alums at every SEC school who are likely complaining.

What's funny is both writers and fans of Florida and of Tennessee seem to think they are hiring either former Oregon (and NFL) Coach Chip Kelly or in the case of Tennessee---Jon Gruden. They believe both these men will be willing to walk right into their cauldron of complaints and immediately make their teams competitive with Saban and Alabama.

They aren't.

Kelly---should he get the itch to coach again---does not need the aggravation. Why would he come to Gainesville or Knoxville and face unreasonable expectations when he could go to say--UCLA---or Oregon State and be free to do what he wants without backlash.

Gruden---haha! Yeah, right Tennessee fans. Dream on. 10-years from his last coaching gig (none of which involved colleges) and comfortable/well paid for being an NFL analyst for ESPN--why on "Gods Green Earth" do you think Jon Gruden is going to be your next coach??

Seriously....why would he??

As for the others. I genuinely feel bad for Sumlin--by most accounts a good dude and very good coach who has not been able to get the Aggies past Alabama (neither has anyone else). But the Aggie faithful were spoiled by a great SEC start and now believe they should be 10-2 or 11-1 every season. They'll find someone to take over the program---but the question I have is this. Are you sure you want someone you don't know as opposed to someone you do? Sumlin got hung out to dry by his Athletic Director before the season began basically being told, win 10 games or your done. He's not going to win 10 games and is likely gone in December.

Bielema, I have little sympathy for. He walked in and talked smack against the history and aura of the conference before and during his entire run at Arkansas and he's done nothing to back it up. The Razorbacks too feel they are a "Power" program when in fact they are and likely will always be a mid-pack SEC West team. Again, they will shoot high...but probably end with a lesser named coach looking to make a name for himself.

Ole Miss is a crap shoot---a program in deep trouble with the NCAA and the specter of being non-competitive for several years. They'll likely look for a younger, less established but up and coming coach.

Malzahn is a question mark. He's had some success and the Tigers have--for the most part been competitive under his watch. But they've not come close to repeating their 2013 SEC Title/BCS run and the supposed "Offensive Genius" has seen his teams struggle to score points. Yes, the Tigers have money and have had some success but they will shoot high for a coach and struggle to find someone to make the forever restless natives happy. It's another very high risk and possible high reward job.

I'd be derelict in my duty if I didn't mention the laughable Joe Alleva and LSU who for reasons unexplained bid against themselves to hire Ed Orgeron as Les Miles replacement by handing him a huge contract with an even huger buyout for fear someone else would hire him (nobody else was interested). LSU has been exactly the same team with Oregeron as they were with Miles. Good some games, not so good others. There was a cry for Coach O's head when the Tigers lost to a Sun Belt team (Troy) at home though those calls have calmed....for now.

My main point here is this: The SEC was once a place where coaches came and made themselves a nice long and successful career as long as they were competitive. That's no longer the case. If you don't win 10 games---every run the risk of being fired. At any...and sometimes unexpected times. For a coach, that could be a good thing I suppose. Deal with it for a couple years and you could end up on the beach with a $10 million buyout and not ever have to work again if you don't want to.

The conference itself is not what it once was. The Big 10 and ACC have both challenged the SEC in depth and talent while not necessarily the high profile coaches. And then there is Alabama--who is the bar. For everyone. And there's everyone else. Yes, this year Georgia appears it may be a competitor---but they've yet to go head to head for a period of time.

Everyone else is expected to challenge Saban and the Crimson Tide. None have been able to. So the SEC continues to churn through coaches until someone beats him. You could write a book (hmmm...) about the guys who've come and gone since he (Saban) took over in Tuscaloosa some 10-years ago. And it makes an SEC job ridiculously tough for anyone. Which is why we are very sure 5--if not 6 coaches are going to be unemployed in just over a month and a new slate of coaches will come in.

And in two years---we likely will have this same exact conversation.

bottom of page