With the competitiveness in the SEC, coaching turnover is a given. Just in the past year, the conference has lost mainstays Mark Richt, Steve Spurrier and Gary Pinkel. Several other coaches will be on the hot seat in 2016.
It’s never too early to start scouting the next round of SEC coaches. Several young coordinators have earned head coaching jobs in the past few years. Additionally, there are coordinators setting themselves apart and giving teams hope that they can be future coaches in this league.
Here are five coaches who will be on the SEC’s radar when the next round of coaching turnover happen.
Tom Herman, Houston head coach
This is perhaps the most obvious name on the list. In his first season at Houston, Herman turned an 8-5 team into a 13-1 national title contender from the American Athletic Conference. The Cougars finished off the season with a dominant win over a supremely talented Florida State team.
Herman reportedly had strong interest from South Carolina during its coaching search last offseason, but turned it down. He is in the privileged position of getting to sit back and wait for the job of his choosing. Many in the state of Texas think it could be an arms race between Texas and Texas A&M
Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma offensive coordinator
Riley will be a head coach somewhere – the only question is where. At just 32 years old, Riley completely rebranded an Oklahoma offense that looked like it might get lost in the Big 12. The Sooners went from 8-5 to the College Football Playoff in one offseason thanks largely to Riley and Baker Mayfield.
Riley has coached under Bob Stoops, Mike Leach and Ruffin McNeal during his time in college football, giving himself a wide range of experience to draw from. He traditionally ran an air raid system, but made the necessary adjustments to take advantage of a talented running game last season with the Sooners. That adaptability and offensive mind gives hope that he can someday succeed in the SEC.
D.J Durkin, Maryland head coach
Durkin joined Urban Meyer at Florida in Meyer’s last season, and stuck around after Will Muschamp arrived in Gainesville. He was elevated to defensive coordinator in 2013 before taking the defensive coordinator job at Michigan under Jim Harbaugh.
Few coaches have the pedigree of coaching under personalities as talented as Meyer, Harbaugh and Muschamp. Durkin is also one of the hottest recruiters in college football. If he can prove himself at Maryland, Durkin will have his pick of head coaching jobs.
Matt Rhule, Temple head coach
In the year of Houston, Temple’s impressive season flew under the radar. The Owls went 10-4 with dominant wins over Penn State and Memphis. The season earned Rhule a hefty extension from Temple before this season.
Rhule posted a paltry 8-16 record in his first two years at the school, but showed tremendous improvement in his third year. That said, there is some level of small sample size. Rhule did receive interest from Missouri during the offseason, but he has a little more to prove before he gets major offers.
Rhett Lashlee, Auburn offensive coordinator
Few coaches have had as favorable a path as Lashlee. After graduating from Arkansas, Lashlee hung onto Gus Malzahn and wouldn’t let go. His loyalty helped turn into an offensive coordinator job at Samford when he was just 28, and continued with his taking the offensive coordinator job at Auburn at 30.
Lashlee is one of the brightest young coaching minds in the SEC. Though Malzahn’s staff is not in exceptionally high standing with the struggles from last season, Lashlee has proven what he can do with Nick Marshall at the helm. He will get a job someday.