The first SEC teams hit the field for spring practice this week, with Arkansas, Auburn, Ole Miss, South Carolina and Vanderbilt opening drills.
Thus, what better time to examine the hottest coaching seats in the SEC.
This was not a normal offseason for the league; there are six new coaches, the most turnover in one year in league history. With almost half the coaches in the league new to their job and with two more league coaches coming off an appearance in the national championship game, this fall should be relatively quiet on the coaching front.
Still, it’s the SEC, each of the 14 coaches is going to feel some heat, with one, in particular, potentially facing a lot more than the others.
14. Nick Saban, Alabama
The buzz: The ice is 3 miles thick in some parts of Antarctica. That’s a lot of ice, and it’s cold. Saban’s seat is thicker and colder than that.
13. Kirby Smart, Georgia
The buzz: Saban Jr.? We’ll find out more this fall as the Bulldogs look to replace numerous key players. But Smart is sitting pretty right now, for sure.
12. Chad Morris, Arkansas
The buzz: He has the toughest rebuild of the new coaches, and he should be able to ease into his new job – unlike his new-coach brethren in the league.
11. Gus Malzahn, Auburn
The buzz: Malzahn received a contract extension in December, and it pays him an average of $7 million through the 2024 season. There’s also a hefty buyout early in the deal. Granted, Auburn has done some weird stuff with its coaches in the past, but Malzahn seems mighty safe for a while.
10. Jeremy Pruitt, Tennessee
The buzz: Pruitt is taking over a program coming off the first winless SEC season in its history. But while no one is expecting division titles, there is an expectation of improvement, so there is a wee bit of pressure.
9. Dan Mullen, Florida
The buzz: Florida is coming off just its second losing season since 1979, and the offense has been pitiful for this entire decade. But offensive improvement is expected. Woe be to Mullen if the offense doesn’t improve.
8. Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M
The buzz: A&M has holes on both sides of the ball, and Fisher is going to get some time to patch them. But he’s being paid a ton of money, A&M is coming off its eighth winning season in a row (six included at least eight wins) and there is some talent in place.
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