The late NFL coach Bum Phillips once said, “There’s two kinds of coaches, them that’s fired and them that’s gonna be fired.”
While a select few stay in one place for decades and leave on their own terms, many other coaches last for only a season — or even less. Whatever the case, every coach eventually has their belongings boxed up and removed as a new head man takes both the office and the reins of the program.
Below are both the longest and shortest football head coaching tenures at every school in the SEC. Interim coaches are not included.
Shortest: Mike Price
Longest: Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant
Bear Bryant is a coaching legend who claimed six national championships and 13 conference titles with the Tide from 1958-1982. Bryant coached 287 total games for Alabama, 169 more than current coach Nick Saban. The shortest tenure? That belongs to Mike Price.
Price was hired to replace Dennis Franchione in 2002, but he was fired by the school before ever coaching a game. In an infamous incident, Price was found to have run up a tab at a Florida strip club while in Florida for a pro-am golf tournament while also having $1,000 in food and drinks charged to his account by a woman staying in his hotel room. He had been warned several weeks before this incident occured about his public behavior, and the trip to Pensacola ultimately forced the hand of Alabama president Robert Witt.
Shortest: B. N. Wilson
Longest: Frank Broyles
Broyles’ career spanned across three decades. He coaches the Razorbacks to 144 wins in 207 tries from 1958-1976. His .708 winning percentage is the third-highest in school history among coaches with more than seven games logged at the school.
Why draw the line at seven? Six is the number of games coached by Wilson, who led the team to a 4-1-1 record as Arkansas’ second coach from 1897-1898.
Shortest: D. M. Balliet
Longest: Ralph Jordan
With Auburn, Jordan coached 265 more games than Balliet — a crazy number until one realizes Balliet only coached a single game for the Tigers in the 1893 season (which he won). Jordan won a national title with Auburn in 1957 and claimed a 176-83-6 overall record as head coach, including a program record 99 SEC victories.
Shortest: Alfred L. Buser
Longest: Steve Spurrier
Buser coached 15 games for the Gators from 1917-1919 before being replaced by William G. Kline. He served as the athletic director for the university in addition to being the fourth head coach in program history.
Spurrier is the owner of the longest tenure with a 122-27-1 record over 150 games. He won SEC Coach of the Year five times with the Gators, including their 1997 championship season.
Shortest: Charles Herty
Longest: Vince Dooley
Dooley is the top dog amongst Georgia coaches all-time, having worked a school-record 288 games from 1964-1988. He won a multitude of awards during his time as the Bulldogs coach, including five SEC Coach of the Year honors. New coach Kirby Smart technically owns the shortest tenure (zero games), but it shouldn’t take him long to past Herty. The first ever Bulldogs coach went .500 for his career, finishing with a 1-1 record in 1892.
Shortest: Lyman Eaton
Longest: Fran Curci
Ten coaches have coached nine or less games for the Wildcats, but none have a fewer than Eaton’s six in 1897 (he went 2-4). At the top of the list, Curci’s 100 games coached narrowly edges out Jerry Claiborne (90) and Bear Bryant (88) for the all-time mark. Compared to some other SEC coaches with this distinction, Curci’s performance and achievements are notably more modest — the Wildcats only logged three winnings seasons during his time in Lexington, Ky.
Shortest: Charles E. Coates
Longest: Charles McClendon
Coates was shutout in his only game as a coach for the Tigers, giving him a loss to go along with his title of shortest-tenured coach at LSU. Les Miles ranks second all-time with 144 games as the lead signal-caller heading into 2016, but still has a few seasons to go before catching McClendon’s school record of 203. One thing Miles can claim that McClendon can’t: A national championship, won by the Tigers in 2007.
Shortest: A. L. McRae, E. H. Jones
Longest: Don Faurot
McRae and Jones both coached three games apiece, but still can technically claim the lead over new hire Barry Odom for the time being. As for Faurot, his mark will take a bit longer to catch. During two separate stints from 1935-1942 and 1946-1956, he coached a school-record 190 total games. It’s also worth noting that before leaving Missouri in 2015, former head coach Gary Pinkel finished with 188 career games coached from 2001-15.
Shortest: W. M. Matthews
Longest: Jackie Sherrill
After resigning from Texas A&M, Sherrill took a three-year absence from football before joining on with Mississippi State and subsequently becoming the longest tenured coach in program history. At 152 career games, Sherrill led the Bulldogs to 75 wins, 75 losses, and two ties. On the other end of the spectrum, Matthews led the Bulldogs in two games total, both losses, during the 1895 season.
Shortest: T. G. Scarbrough
Longest: Johnny Vaught
With his name now part of the stadium’s at Ole Miss, Vaught is known not only for his long tenure with the Rebels, but for his unrivaled success. He was the coach for all three national of the school’s championship teams, and finished his career at the university with a 190-61-12 record. Vaught has 122 more victories than Billy Brewer, who is second all-time in coaching wins at Ole Miss with 68. Scarbrough, another pre-1900 coach, led the team to a 1-1 record in 1898 as the program’s fifth coach.
Shortest: Three tied
Longest: Rex Enright
A trio of coaches all can claim three total games on their South Carolina resume. Douglas McKay went undefeated in 1907, while Bill Wertenbaker and W. P. Murphy went 1-2 and 0-3, respectively. Enright coached 140 games compared to Spurrier’s 135, but did so during two different coaching stints from 1938-1942 and again from 1946-1955. However, Spurrier’s career winning percentage in Columbia (.637) beats Enright’s mark of .482 by a long shot.
Shortest: George Kelley
Longest: Robert Neyland
Neyland owns a slim 12-game advantage over Phillip Fulmer for the most games coached (2016 all-time), but it took him three different stints as coach to reach the mark. Meanwhile, Fulmer’s run from 1992-2008 places him slightly ahead of Johnny Majors for third on the all-time list at Tennessee. Kelley put together a 3-3-2 record during his one season as coach in 1901.
Shortest: F. D. Perkins
Longest: R. C. Slocum
A&M’s Perkins coached just two games in 1894 as the program’s first ever coach. Current head man Kevin Sumlin is entering his fifth season as the Aggies head coach, but is only about a third of the way to catching Slocum on the all-time list. Slocum, the Southwest Conference Coach of the Year from 1991-1993, owns a 123-47-2 mark during his time as A&M coach, which ran from 1989-2002.
Shortest: E. H. Alley
Longest: Dan McGugin
Last but not least, we have the Commodores. Alley may have only coached five games, but he won them all during his time as head coach in 1943. McGugin pieced together two terms as Vanderbilt’s head coach to compile a 198-55-19 record during 272 games with the university, winning nine Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association championships.