Mark Bradley

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

When last did an SEC football program make a whiz-bang hire?


It's not my intent to address the state of coaching in the SEC every day for the next 10 years. But I would like to offer this before moving on to other stuff -- the changing roster of conference coaches from Dec. 1, 2010 -- six years ago -- to now.

Alabama: Nick Saban then and now.

Auburn: Gene Chizik then, Gus Malzahn now.

Arkansas: Bobby Petrino then, Bret Bielema now

Florida: Urban Meyer then (he would resign on Dec. 9, 2010), followed by Will Muschamp and now Jim McElwain.

Georgia: Mark Richt then, Kirby Smart now.

Kentucky: Joker Phillips then, Mark Stoops now.

LSU: Les Miles then, Ed Orgeron now.

Ole Miss: Houston Nutt then, Hugh Freeze now.

Mississippi State: Dan Mullen then and now.

Tennessee: Derek Dooley then, Butch Jones now.

South Carolina: Steve Spurrier then, Muschamp now.

Vanderbilt: Robbie Caldwell then (James Franklin would be hired on Dec. 17, 2010), Derek Mason now.

Six years ago, the league had 12 members. These two would be added in 2012.

Missouri: Gary Pinkel then, Barry Odom now.

Texas A&M: Mike Sherman then, Kevin Sumlin now.

Every SEC program save Alabama and Mississippi State has changed coaches in the past six years; Florida and Vandy have done it twice. Also noteworthy is that only two men hired since Dec. 1, 2010 -- Malzahn and McElwain -- have taken teams to the SEC championship game. (Both did in their first seasons, FYI; McElwain has done it again in Year 2.)

(For a while, we wondered how Missouri could join the SEC and, in Years 2 and 3, win the Eastern Division. The simple answer: Pinkel outcoached everybody in that division.)

Some changes were clearly for the better: Sumlin for Sherman, Franklin for the interim Caldwell, McElwain for Muschamp. Some were slight upgrades: Stoops for Phillips, Freeze for Nutt. Some were due to external circumstances: Pinkel had cancer; Petrino crashed his motorcycle. Some were due to coaches leaving of their volition: Franklin split for Penn State; Meyer and Spurrier resigned. Some were obvious downgrades: Bielema for Petrino, Muschamp for both Meyer and Spurrier.

Whatever the causes, the reality is that 12 of the SEC's 14 programs have different coaches today than they did six years ago. Contrast this with the ACC, where four of 14 coaches remain in place six years on: David Cutcliffe, Jimbo Fisher, Paul Johnson and Dabo Swinney. That's a slight difference, but it is a difference.

Here I stipulate that I was supported some of the SEC's changes. (Notably in the cases of Richt , Miles and Muschamp . I also believed Spurrier's time at South Carolina had reached its enda sentiment with which the man himself disagreed -- until he resigned six games into the 2015 season.) For the record, I was in favor of Georgia hiring Smart . I was appalled that South Carolina hired Muschamp and that LSU kept Orgeron . (This not just in: Sometimes I'm wrong about stuff.)

But enough about me. This is about the SEC, which lists its four most recent hires as Odom, Smart, Muschamp and Orgeron. The first two had never been head coaches; the second two had been fired as head coaches by SEC schools. By way of contrast, the ACC welcomed four new coaches last winter -- Richt at Miami, Dino Babers at Syracuse, Justin Fuente at Virginia Tech and Bronco Mendenhall at Virginia. All four had been head coaches elsewhere; only Richt had been fired.

Maybe the real question isn't about the state of the SEC's coaches. Maybe it concerns the SEC's athletic directors. Check the changes listed above and ask yourself this: When last did an SEC school make a hire that, on its face, rivaled Harbaugh to Michigan or Herman to Texas?

From yesterday: The SEC's coaches - Saban and 13 other guys.

Also from yesterday: Serious question: Who's the SEC's second-best coach?


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About the Author

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has been with the AJC since 1984.