Things we can agree on: The SEC has been struggling for the last few years – compared to its previous decade of dominance – primarily because it has struggled to attract elite coaches.
The SEC schools often get the elite players, because the highest density of great players is in the South. Some will argue Nick Saban’s dominance at Alabama ran off all the good coaches; others will say it’s all just cyclical.
Others may still say that the rise of social media and irrational, delusional fans never being satisfied with anything has contributed to the problems in the SEC.
When Chip Kelly is saying no to Florida, and running to UCLA; when Scott Frost is giving the stiff-arm to Florida to perhaps diving back to Nebraska, you have to wonder: Do elite coaches simply not want to deal with SEC fan bases?
The Tennessee Volunteers have a proud college football history. The school has a bottomless pit of money. Yet since they ran off Philip Fulmer when he fell on hard times a little over a decade ago, the replacements have been a disaster.
Lane Kiffin lasted 13 games before he sprinting to USC. When locals got wind of it, things got ugly. Then Derek Dooley was named coach, and after 36 games he was dusted. I’m not sure he’ll ever be a head coach again. Butch Jones was next, and his 51-game experiment ended so badly, he’ll be lucky to be a college football head coach ever again.
There’s a funny old axiom that holds true in college football: Win 8 games at the majority of schools in any conference and they’ll build you a statue; win 8 games in the SEC and you’ll be fired. [Obviously this doesn’t apply to the Blue Bloods.]
Is that an environment for success? If you’re a coach on the rise in your 30s or 40s and the SEC comes calling, are you better off going to the Pac-12 or Big-10 than shooting for the stars in the SEC?
We’ll soon find out. Last year, LSU had trouble finding a coach, so it relied on SEC retread Ed Orgeron. This year, Florida just stole Dan Mullen from Mississippi State. Ole Miss just decided to remove the interim coaching tag from Matt Luke instead of go look for a savior.
Let’s see what Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi State do in the coming days/weeks.
And I’ll leave you with this: Auburn was so unhappy with Gus Malzahn last year and earlier this season, there was talk he might not survive. Now, he has the Tigers in the SEC title game, knocking on the door of the College Football Playoff.