Every SEC coach is under pressure at the beginning of the season. Some have to deal with more than others.
CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd placed five SEC coaches on the hot seat, ranking them from “win or be fired” to “untouchable.” Dodd implemented a numerical value on the five coaches’ job security and each will be feeling the heat in 2016.
Here’s how he broke it down:
- 5– Win or be fired
- 4– Better start improving
- 3– Pressure mounting
- 2– All good…for now
- 1– Safe and secure
- 0– Untouchable
The first name to appear on the list is LSU coach Les Miles, who was named to the “win or be fired” category. We all remember the Miles saga toward the end of last season, but just because he kept his job doesn’t mean the pressure is relieved. The Tigers finished with a 9-3 (5-3 SEC) record last season, and Dodd writes, “LSU’s coach probably has to beat Alabama this year, which is another way of saying LSU probably has to win the SEC West for Miles to keep his job.”
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops was next on the list and was given a “4” regarding his job security. Stoops is entering his fourth season in Lexington and has led the Wildcats to a 12-24 record thus far. Kentucky is coming off back-to-back 5-7 seasons.
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn is also entering his fourth season, coming off a 7-6 season. The Tigers finished 2-6 last season in the SEC last year, and enter 2016 without a clear-cut starting quarterback. Dodd writes, ” The Auburn coach vs. expectations vs. Alabama. Every day of the year. Good luck, Gus. There are at least three teams better than the Tigers in the SEC West. Or is that just perception?” The pressure is mounting for Malzahn and the Tigers.
Entering his fifth season at Texas A&M, Kevin Sumlin (3.5 rating) has turned the program in the right direction, but can he lead the Aggies to their true potential? Dodd points out the positives during Sumlin’s tenure in College Station, but highlights areas in need of improvement.
“Look what Sumlin has built in Aggieland: new credibility with a Heisman, entry into the SEC, palace of a stadium, boffo recruiting. Look what Sumlin must do, quickly: solidify the quarterback position and get the Aggies in contention in the SEC West pretty darn quick.”
The last name to appear on the list was Vanderbilt’s Derek Mason. The Commodores have played to a 7-17 record in two seasons under Mason, and will look to escape the bottom of the SEC East. Mason was given a “pressure mounting” grade entering his third season.