Four weeks into the season and the SEC already has it’s first coaching casualties in LSU’s Les Miles and Cam Cameron. The season is still young and more heads will roll, but there are a handful of guys making cases to move up the ranks or, at the very least, get a nice pay bump.
Here’s an updated look at who’s earning their keep around the conference:
1. Ed Orgeron, LSU interim head coach
Well, Ed, here you go. Orgeron gets the first crack at the LSU job as the interim head coach and could earn the gig full-time if he can win games with this Tigers team. Luckily, he’s been given the opportunity to influence the offense without Cam Cameron calling the shots. He may not have the most reliable quarterback but he does have a talented defense and some guy named Leonard Fournette.
2. Bob Schoop, Tennessee defensive coordinator
Schoop said in the past that he was brought to Knoxville to beat Florida. With a new gameplay in the second half he did just that as the Volunteers erased a 21-3 halftime deficit to win 38-28. After allowing 300 yards of offense in the first half, Schoop’s defense stifled the Gators allowing just 102 in the second half. Yes, the Tennessee offense had a similar shift in the second half, but Schoop and the defense gave the offense every opportunity to make its run.
3. John Chavis, Texas A&M defensive coordinator
Much like Schoop, Chavis used halftime to make the necessary adjustments against Arkansas and hold the Razorbacks to just seven second-half points in a 45-24 Aggies’ win. The Aggies had a pair of stands at the goal line and recorded 10 tackles for loss.
4. Billy Gonzales, Mississippi State co-offensive coordinator, passing game
Gonzales does’t call the plays for the Bulldogs, but his passing scheme against Massachusetts led the Bulldogs to a 47-35 victory. Sophomore quarterback Nick Fitzgerald had a career day with 305 yards and 3 touchdowns on 26 of 39 passing.He hit six different receivers as the offense piled up 598 total yards. The young passer has proven effective with his legs by adding 110 rushing yards in the UMass win.
5. Billy Napier, Alabama wide receivers coach
Alabama was without wideouts ArDarius Stewart and Robert Foster, but the entire offense stepped up as 12 different players caught at least one pass in a 48-0 win over Kent State. Cam Sims, who had just one catch for 12 yards prior to last Saturday, led the team with 4 catches for 54 yards, while tight end O.J. Howard caught the lone passing touchdown. The Tide could have easily won this game without throwing a pass, but nonetheless, it was impressive to see the passing game hum without two of its top threats.
1. James Coley, Georgia wide receivers coach
Dropped passes killed the Bulldogs in a 45-14 loss to Ole Miss. The play-calling was fine. Jacob Eason made good throws. The receivers failed to hold up their end of the bargain. Through four games Georgia has dropped 17 passes out of 135 attempts. You hate to blame Coley for bonehead miscues by receivers, but he needs to put these guys on the JUGS machine a bit more this week.
2. Shawn Elliott, South Carolina offensive line coach
Kentucky has one of the worst defenses in the country and South Carolina scored just 10 points on 268 yards of total offense. That’s unacceptable. The Gamecocks rushed for just 91 yards the entire day and allowed Kentucky a season-high 4 sacks. The Wildcats has 3 sacks the entire season before South Carolina came to Lexington. Elliott’s offensive line made it look like Kentucky’s defense, which is still ranked 113th in the nation, actually belonged to an SEC program.
3. Jim McElwain, Florida head coach
Florida had 11 years of history and an 18-point halftime lead on its side against Tennessee Saturday. But McElwain’s group found multiple ways to let the Volunteers rally to a 38-28 win. Both the offense and defense for the Gators blew it — there’s no other way to describe it. When the meltdown is so widespread the blame had to fall on McElwain’s leadership.
4. C.J. Ah You, Vanderbilt defensive line coach
The Commodores pulled off a 31-30 overtime win over Western Kentucky, but it’s not because the defensive front did the team any favors. The Hilltoppers rushed for 205 yards on 33 carries and Vanderbilt had just one sack on 40 Western Kentucky dropbacks. The team has just two sacks the entire season. Luckily three turnovers and 88 penalty yards by Western Kentucky allowed Vanderbilt to stick around a pull out a one-point victory.
SEC Coach of the Year favorite: Nick Saban, Alabama
Saban is another week closer to the award after a 48-0 win over his alma mater, Kent State. Kevin Sumlin is still doing a nice job at Texas A&M and looks to be the only other coach in shouting distance. This could come down to an Oct. 22 meeting between the two.