After the NCAA dropped a number of new allegations on Ole Miss, it was only a matter of time before parts of the fan base began to turn on Hugh Freeze.
In SEC Country’s first football coach approval rating, Freeze came in with a rating of 80.6. That was good for seventh in the conference, but when you factor in the 5-7 season and dud of a recruiting class the Rebels brought in, it showed the fan base largely still supported Freeze.
But after the NCAA released its notice of allegations, Freeze’s rating plummeted. He currently has an approval rating of 65.9, which drops him to 11th in the SEC. What may be more concerning is that 26 percent of the fan base strongly disapproves of the job Freeze is doing. No other coach in the SEC had a strong disapproval percentage higher than 12.
As for some of the other coaches, Nick Saban is still on top, even after some questioned his hiring of Brian Daboll as offensive coordinator. Ed Orgeron saw a decent jump up in the rankings, as his strong start to the 2018 recruiting cycle helped bump his approval rating up to more than 90 percent. And at the bottom of the list, Kevin Sumlin fell below Gus Malzahn and now has the lowest approval rating in the conference.
1. Nick Saban, Alabama: 97.2
Saban received a strongly approved rating from 94 percent of the fan base. Winning multiple national championships with different offensive coordinators will do that for you.
2. Ed Orgeron, LSU: 91.4
As the Tigers full-time coach, he’s 1-0 thanks to a bowl win against Louisville. It will be interesting to see what the fan base thinks of him after his first loss, whenever that may be.
3. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State: 89.0
Mullen received a contract extension and fans seemed to like the idea, as Mullen rose from fifth to third among the SEC head coaches.
4. Jim McElwain, Florida: 85.0
McElwain’s approval rating saw a slight drop, down from 85.9, but fans still seem to like what his doing. The Gators’ ongoing quarterback battle continues to be a big deal to fans.
5. Mark Stoops, Kentucky: 84.7
Now that Kentucky’s basketball season is over, Stoops can look forward to drawing more fan interest in his program. Like McElwain, Stoops saw a slight drop in his approval rating, down from 85.0.
6. Will Muschamp, South Carolina: 83.7
While it might not be as high as Frank Martin’s approval rating, fans still seem to like the job that Muschamp is doing.
7. Kirby Smart, Georgia: 75.7
Thanks to Freeze’s drop-off, Smart moved up a spot in the rankings, even though his approval rating dropped from 79.7.
8. Derek Mason, Vanderbilt: 75.5
Mason’s approval rating went from 75.6 in the first approval rating post to 75.5 in the second. Remarkably consistent from Mason and the Vanderbilt fans.
9. Barry Odom, Missouri: 67.7
Odom saw his approval rating dip into the 60s after posting a 71.9 in his approval rating post. But with the addition of basketball coach Cuonzo Martin and the No. 1 overall prospect in Michael Porter Jr., Missouri fans have something to really look forward to.
10. Bret Bielema, Arkansas: 66.6
The Razorbacks began spring practice this week and offer a chance to examine the Razorbacks’ new-look defense. Bielema had a 68.7 rating in the first approval rating poll.
11. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss: 65.9
Freeze’s plummet was covered in the section above. It will be interesting to watch what AD Ross Bjork does in the coming months.
12. Butch Jones, Tennessee: 60.2
Jones is still in 12th, where he was in the first SEC Country approval rating poll. Jones’ next big decision will be deciding who the next Volunteers QB will be.
13. Gus Malzahn, Auburn: 57.6
Like Mason, Malzahn’s approval rating stayed the same, but he did move up spot, thanks to Texas A&M fans souring on Sumlin.
14. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M: 54.7
So, yeah, this rating speaks for itself. Sumlin losing Myles Garrett and not having a starting quarterback option after a third consecutive 8-5 season failed to inspire optimism among Texas A&M fans.
The SEC Country approval rating poll is designed to give an indication of fan happiness over a period of time.
Our formula is based on the percentage of respondents that select each answer. We multiply that percentage by the following factors: 1 (strongly approve), 0.67 (approve), 0.33 (disapprove) and 0.0 (strongly disapprove). In other words, if 50 percent of respondents select “strongly approve” and 50 percent select “approve,” the formula would be (50 x 1) + (50 x 0.67) = 83.5% approval rating.