By Brandon Daniel @Brandon_Rant on April 24, 2014
A new season brings different challenges for different coaches across college football. In the SEC, the pressure is magnified and coaches are scrutinized on a whole new level. In 2014, coaches face the task of replacing stars, getting stud recruits ready to see the field, and building on the success and momentum of the previous year. There are five coaches in particular who face unique challenges that leave them something to prove in 2014.
It may sound absurd to think that Nick Saban has anything to prove in 2014. The man has won four national titles (three at Alabama), and is hands down the best coach in the nation. However, Crimson Tide fans have high expectations, and anything short of a national title berth is unacceptable. Add to the mix that the hated Auburn Tigers won the SEC and played for the last crystal football, and you can feel the heat turning up in Tuscaloosa.
Kevin Sumlin has been spectacular in his short tenure in College Station. Since he got a big extension this offseason, he is not in danger of losing his job in 2014, but still has much to prove. This season, he will have to prove that he can lead the Aggies to victory without Johnny Manziel behind center. Like it or not, Sumlin's success is tied to Manziel, and he will need to prove his first two seasons weren't a fluke.
Most feel that Butch Jones is the right man in Knoxville, and he has the Tennessee Volunteers headed in the right direction. The Volunteers have been in a state of flux since firing Phil Fulmer in 2008, and they are hungry for success. For Tennessee fans to feel confident in the direction of the program in 2014, Jones needs to take the next step and get the Volunteers to a bowl game. Otherwise, the honeymoon may be over.
One could argue that no coach has come in with more enthusiasm and fanfare than Hugh Freeze. He is loved in Oxford and has led the Rebels to success winning 15 games in his first two seasons. With his highly regarded 2013 recruiting class another year older, Bo Wallace at the helm, and former No. 1 recruit Robert Nkemdiche on defense, this is the season the Rebels need to push and prove they belong in the West.
It has been an up-and-down experience for Will Muschamp since he left Austin for The Swamp. After the failed Charlie Weis experiment, Muschamp and the Gators found success with Brent Pease running the offense in 2012, winning 11 games and challenging for the SEC East. Injuries derailed them in 2013, and Pease was let go. Muschamp needs to win big with his third OC and a healthy Jeff Driskel in 2014, or else he may be looking for a new gig.
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