LSU coach Ed Orgeron admitted recently he was pretty close to hiring former Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin for the same role at LSU. Ultimately, Kiffin opted to leave the world of an SEC assistant for an opportunity to lead the Florida Atlantic program.
While we miss Lane dearly here in the SEC, the new 2017 coach rankings from Athlon Sports left us scratching our head at the potential Kiffin-Orgeron reunion that never came to fruition.
With Orgeron checking in at No. 81 on the list, it’s clear that Coach O has a lot to prove during his first full year as the head man on the bayou before he can be considered among the game’s top tier of coaches. But we didn’t expect to see the man he tried to hire check in ahead of him on the list.
Kiffin, who is in his third stint as an FBS coach after failed stops at Tennessee and USC, checked in one spot ahead of Orgeron on the list at No. 80. That also would rank him ahead of Barry Odom, which was the SEC’s lowest ranked coach at No. 105.
Here’s how the SEC checked in on the rankings of the 130 FBS coaches for 2017:
1. Nick Saban, Alabama
19. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
21. Jim McElwain, Florida
22. Gus Malzahn, Auburn
27. Bret Bielema, Arkansas
29. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss
30. Butch Jones, Tennessee
40. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
55. Will Muschamp, South Carolina
60. Mark Stoops, Kentucky
64. Derek Mason, Vanderbilt
65. Kirby Smart, Georgia
81. Ed Orgeron, LSU
105. Barry Odom, Missouri
- Athlon didn’t try to get cute at the top, which was smart. Nick Saban is clearly the best coach in college football, and a last-second loss to Clemson in the national title game did nothing to change that.
- Dan Mullen may not have the second best program in the SEC, but he’s respected around the country as the next best coach the league has to offer after compiling a pretty impressive resume at Mississippi State.
- Back-to-back SEC East titles is not quite enough for Jim McElwain to crack the top 20. Something tells us he’ll move closer to the top 10 if he makes it three in a row.
- Bret Bielema may have underwhelmed a bit last year, but his overall resume as a college coach is still very impressive. Hogs fans should enjoy having him committed to their program.
- Hugh Freeze is potentially in a world of trouble, but he still cracked the top 30. That’s actually pretty impressive.
- Butch Jones and Kevin Sumlin are considered by some as hot-seat candidates for the 2017 season, but both rate in the upper echelon of coaches. However, the Vols and Aggies probably feel like their coaches should be considered among the elite by this point of their tenures.
- Kirby Smart was a really hot name and he earned a premium gig, but he’s the 12th best coach in the league after one season.