I’ve been somewhat disappointed with the response to these posts. I had hoped to generate some good discussion here, but very few of you have skated. So I am going to try a different subject: college football. The season is only a few days away from starting, so I know that a lot of you are thinking about it right now. I know this is the South, and virtually everyone here has strong opinions on this subject, so I’d better see some good discussion here. If not, I don’t know what I am going to do with you people.
The subject of today’s discussion is this: Which new SEC hire will make the greatest impact at his school?
The bar has been raised in a big way as far as the quality of SEC coaching in recent years. Urban Meyer has won two national championships in three years at Florida. Nick Saban last year fielded the best team Alabama has had since the days of Bear Bryant. Les Miles has won a national championship at LSU. Houston Nutt has done very good things at Ole Miss, and Bobby Petrino figures to do good things at Arkansas in the future. Bobby Johnson is winning at Vanderbilt, Rich Brooks is doing good things at Kentucky, and Steve Spurrier–well, he isn’t exactly experiencing the same level of success at South Carolina that we came to expect from him while he was at Florida, but he’s still the Evil Genius.
In light of all this, virtually everybody in the SEC is feeling the pressure. Three schools are feeling it so much that they decided to make coaching changes last year: Tennessee, Mississippi State, and Auburn.
Mississippi State brought in Dan Mullen, Urban Meyer’s longtime loyal right-hand man who served as quarterbacks coach at Bowling Green and offensive coordinator at Utah and Florida, and who has developed such notable quarterbacks as Josh Harris, Alex Smith, Chris Leak, and Tim Tebow. Now he faces the challenge of trying to implement Florida’s spread offense with Mississippi State players. Tall order, that. Not to mention the fact that he has absolute zero head coaching experience. Did he really want to sign up for this assignment?
Auburn ran off Tommy Tuberville and replaced him with Gene Chizik. Now Gene Chizik has done some good things as defensive coordinator at Auburn and Texas, but if he wins just six games this year, he will have exceeded his combined win total from two years at Iowa State. (And to think that Auburn could have gotten Turner Gill or Mike Leach.) Chizik has put together an all-star staff of assistants headlined by defensive coordinator Ted Roof and offensive coordinator Gus Maltzahn. He has made no bones about the fact that he is building for the future, not necessarily the present.
And Tennessee ran off Philip Fulmer, a proven winner for almost two decades, and replaced him with Lane Kiffin. Now this guy has absolutely zero head coaching experience at the college level, and his NFL experience wasn’t exactly the greatest in the world. To wit: If he wins just six games this year, he will surpass his combined win total from two years with the Oakland Raiders. Tennessee has surrounded him with an all-star staff including defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin (his dad) and defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron. In just the few short months that Lane Kiffin has been coach at Tennessee, he has accused virtually every school in the conference of cheating at recruiting–not exactly the best way to get off on good terms with one’s fellow coaches–while in the process making a few secondary violations himself. All this drama–and he has yet to coach a single down at Tennessee.
As you can probably see, I am not particularly impressed with any of these hires. As for Dan Mullen and Gene Chizik, I think that whatever impact they have will be several years down the road–if they are still around by then. As for Lane Kiffin, we will know in a couple of years whether all the drama that he has brought with him will light a fire under Tennessee’s program or if everything will simply blow up in his face.
So what do you all think about the new class of SEC coaches who will be starting out this year? Who do you think will have the greatest impact?