Coaching in the Southeastern Conference may be the most stress-inducing job in all of sports. The fans demand excellence at some of the top programs, even 10 win seasons and SEC championships can be viewed as failures.
The rabid fan bases can lead to coaches never really getting the time to build their team before getting fired. Where college football normally sees a head coach get three to four seasons to build his roster and start showing signs of success, the SEC whittles that down to two seasons at most in some places.
This past season saw something happen in the SEC that hadn’t occurred in over a decade, and today we will look at the anomaly to see if the trend will continue into the next decade.
An SEC coaching anomaly
For the first time since 2006, there weren’t any head coaching changes in the SEC. This helped the continuity of the conference, as the fans were able to see familiar faces get one more shot to turn things around.
While there were a few coaches who were under fire, everyone kept their jobs intact and were able to completely focus on 2019. This was largely in part to the extremely high buyout clauses in current contracts ($10 million or more for nine of the conference’s 14 coaches).
Who has the worst chances of keeping their job after this season? The answers may surprise you.
Who is on the hot seat?
We are going to start off with Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt. After coming over from Alabama, Tennessee fans thought they were getting the next Kirby Smart, who has turned Georgia into one of the top programs in the country. Instead, the Volunteers have struggled to start the 2019 season.
Pruitt may not finish the regular season at this pace, as Tennessee has lost to Georgia State and BYU already. Those should have been two easy wins for the Volunteers; instead, they may not become bowl eligible this season.
Derek Mason at Vanderbilt will also be under a lot of scrutiny. The Commodores are also looking at an 0-2 start, and checking out the remainder of their schedule they could end up with only three or four wins, which could lead to a coaching change next year.
How many SEC coaching changes should we expect?
We think at the very least there should be two teams looking for head coaches. Vanderbilt looks like they will struggle to put up points and keep the opposing offenses out of the end zone. A blowout loss to Georgia with LSU on the docket in Week 3 could mean two ugly losses in the first three weeks of the season.
Tennessee simply looks like they don’t want to put in the effort. Losing to Georgia State was one of the biggest shockers in Week 1, and for them to put up another bad game against an overachieving BYU team should have Pruitt’s seat extremely hot already.
What are some new faces we could see next year?
If there are indeed a few coaching changes in the SEC next season, who are some of the names fans can expect to see as potential candidates? Mike Elko and Brent Venables. Elko is the current defensive coordinator at Texas A&M. He is already used to recruiting in the south.
Venables has had his share of head coaching offers already. However, every time he gets an offer Clemson and head coach Dabo Swinney just give him his asking price in terms of money and resources. Would a team such as Tennessee be able to pry him away?