You see it all the time.
Following successful stints as coordinators, assistant coaches make the jump to head coaching ranks each season. You saw it this year with the likes of Georgia’s Kirby Smart and South Carolina’s Will Muschamp making the switch from defensive coordinators to becoming the head man.
Which SEC coordinators could follow suit?
ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg took his crack at predicting the next coaches to make the coordinator-to-head coach move, and 5 SEC assistants made the list.
The first name was LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda. Despite never coaching a game with the Tigers, Rittenberg was impressed with Aranda’s time at Hawaii and Utah State as a defensive coordinator, while also pointing out that Wisconsin led the FBS in fewest points in 2015. He takes over a defense that returns a ton of talent, including defensive end Arden Key, middle linebacker Kendell Beckwith and defensive back Jamal Adams.
Florida defensive coordinator Geoff Collins also made the list after helping lead the Gators to an SEC Championship appearance in 2015. Rittenberg points to Collins’ recruiting prowess, which possesses both “personality and pizzazz.” He points to Collins’ time at Georgia Tech, Alabama and UCF as further reason for his head coaching potential.
Dan Enos, the second-year Arkansas offensive coordinator, completely turned around the Razorbacks’ offense last season turning away from a run-first squad and opening it up with Brandon Allen behind center. His performance was so attractive that Smart tried to hire him away to Athens, but a non-compete clause prevented an interview from taking place.
A former SEC head coach also made the cut: Lane Kiffin. The Alabama offensive coordinator and former Tennessee head coach helped lead the Crimson Tide to an SEC and national championship a year ago. Rittenberg opines that if Kiffin is able to make the offense work with a new Crimson Tide quarterback again, and stay out of negative headlines, that he could be in line for a head coaching gig in 2017.
The last SEC name on the list was Tennessee defensive coordinator Bob Shoop. Entering his first season in Knoxville, Shoop has produced two top-20 defenses at Vanderbilt and Penn State. Rittenberg writes, “If Shoop delivers an elite defense for a potential SEC champion, he’ll start to get some calls.”