SEC Football Oddly Lacking Coaches On the Hot Seat

By Bryan Zarpentine
Nick Saban
Dale Zanine – USATODAY Sports

In recent years the SEC has become as synonymous with coaching changes as it is with recruiting violations. Well, maybe not quite to that extent, but you get the point. Head football coaches in the SEC are constantly being put on the hot seat and fearing for their jobs. However, as SEC Media Day gets under way, there doesn’t seem to be any head coaches in the SEC with too much heat on them.

It helps that there are four new head coaches in the league. Brett Bielema for the Arkansas Razorbacks, Gus Malzahn for the Auburn Tigers, Mark Stoops for the Kentucky Wildcats and Butch Jones for the Tennessee Volunteers. There are also several coaches that are established enough to not worry about getting fired anytime, such as Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier, and probably even Les Miles.

But what about the rest? One mediocre season is all the Florida Gators had to endure under Will Muschamp before he led them to an 11-win season and a BCS Bowl Game last year, so his job should be secure moving forward. Fans of the Georgia Bulldogs would probably like to put Mark Richt back on the hot seat, but he’s won the SEC East two years in a row and is under contract through the 2016 season, so after surviving the hot seat at the start of the 2011 season, his job should be safe as well.

Then there’s the trio of young head coaches in the SEC that have their programs on the rise and could be around for a long time to come. Kevin Sumlin, with a little help from Johnny Manziel, did amazing things for the Texas A&M Aggies in the school’s first season in the SEC, and he should be in College Station for quite a while.

James Franklin should be considered a borderline-deity for what he’s done as head coach of the Vanderbilt Commodores the past two seasons, and the school will do whatever it takes to keep him around for as long as possible.

Then there’s Hugh Freeze, who took the Ole Miss Rebels to a bowl game last season and then signed one of the best recruiting classes in the country, which could set him up for long-term success at Ole Miss.

The only two coaches left are the two that are closest to the hot seat: Dan Mullen and Gary Pinkel. Mullen isn’t as secure as he was following the 2010 season when he led the Mississippi State Bulldogs to a 9-4 record, as the Bulldogs lost five of their last six games last year, but with three straight winning seasons Mullen shouldn’t have to worry about the 2013 season being his last in Starkville.

As for Pinkel, after 12 seasons with the Missouri Tigers, he’s going to be given plenty of slack during Missouri’s transition to the SEC, and because the Tigers haven’t been in the league that long they won’t be so quick to fire their coach at the first sign of trouble, as the rest of the league tends to do. This should give Pinkel at least a couple more years to become competitive in the nation’s best conference before he starts to feel the heat.

So there you have it, 14 head coaches in the nation’s best college football conference who all feel good about their job security heading into the 2013 season. It’s kind of an eerie sight if you think about it, but it’s a nice break from what has become the norm in the SEC. Of course, don’t expect it to last long, because by the end of the season, there’s bound to be multiple SEC head coaches feeling the heat, just like we’ve come to expect.


Bryan Zarpentine is a New York Mets writer at  He also writes frequently about the NFL, College Football, College Basketball, and International Soccer.  Like him on Facebook, follow him on twitter @BZarp and add him to your network on Google+.

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