The modern college football machine burdens its head coaches with so many responsibilities that many have become more like CEOs than teachers or strategists. The SEC is a prime example of this phenomenon.
With head coaches obligated to speak with reporters, make public appearances and make the biggest executive decisions, coordinators are left to oversee the day-to-day operation of their units. And while they don’t make as much as their bosses, coordinator salaries have undergone similar inflation of late.
In 2015, for example, nine coordinators made more than $1 million. Excluding private schools that aren’t obligated to publicly disclose coaches’ salaries, those nine coordinators made more money than 50 FBS head coaches.
Big paychecks equal big pressure. We’ve already examined which SEC head coaches could be fired in 2016, and now it’s time to look at which coordinators might be looking for new jobs this winter:
LSU OC Cam Cameron
No such list would be complete without LSU’s often-criticized coordinator. Last season, the negative attention primarily was focused on the Tigers’ lack of balance, having the SEC’s best rushing offense and its fourth-worst passing offense. Since Zach Mettenberger, Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry all left after the 2013 season, LSU has averaged a mere 171 passing yards per game. And perhaps most importantly, Cameron’s offenses have only produced five touchdowns in their past three matchups with perennial nemesis Alabama. Cameron has been fired from his last two gigs — Miami Dolphins head coach and Ravens offensive coordinator — and unless LSU’s offense evolves, this offseason could extend the streak to three.
Auburn DC Kevin Steele
Steele has hopped around a lot lately, jumping from Alabama linebackers coach to LSU defensive coordinator and finally taking the same position with the Tigers. He essentially traded a not-so-stable situation at LSU for an equally uncertain one, as coach Gus Malzahn and his staff are no locks to return in 2017. What’s more, Auburn’s defenses have been mediocre in recent years. Last year, the Will Muschamp-led unit allowed 26 points and 405 yards per game. Steele has an extraordinarily stout defensive line at his disposal, but there are question marks behind it, and Malzahn’s inconsistent up-tempo offense won’t make the job easier.
Florida OC Doug Nussmeier
Like Steele, Nussmeier has been on the move lately. His lone Michigan offense (2014) was atrocious, and the Gators underwent their infamous offensive collapse late last season with Treon Harris at quarterback. Of course Nussmeier has enjoyed recent success, as the offensive coordinator on Alabama’s 2012 BCS title team, but the Gators scoring 77 points over the final six games of 2015 puts more of an onus on finding reliable quarterback play and starting strong in September. The Swamp has played host to plenty of bad offensive teams in recent years, and Florida fans are ready for that to change.
South Carolina OC Kurt Roper
Speaking of Florida offenses, Roper has reunited with his buddy Muschamp in Columbia, and boy, is there some rebuilding going on over there. There’s precious little proven talent on the roster, and it’s likely either a former walk-on (Perry Orth) or a true freshman (Brandon McIlwain) will be the starting quarterback. This is a unit that could only muster two touchdowns against The Citadel last season, and one of those came courtesy of now-departed stud Pharoh Cooper. Gamecocks fans may have grown accustomed to Steve Spurrier’s offenses by now, and while Roper’s scheme shouldn’t be an especially drastic transition, he has a huge task in front of him. If South Carolina doesn’t at least show improvement over the course of the season, well, we can’t imagine Roper has a long leash.
Georgia OC Jim Chaney
The coaching standards are always high in Athens. Brian Schottenheimer lasted one year, and his predecessor Mike Bobo was constantly criticized by fans despite offense being Georgia’s strength in those years. Chaney is expected to at least field a respectable offense right away. But he walks into a program that features:
- Greyson Lambert and true freshman Jacob Eason in a quarterback battle
- Its top two tailbacks coming off injury and little depth behind them
- No proven commodities at wideout besides Terry Godwin
- An offensive line undergoing a re-tooling
If Eason doesn’t progress as expected and the Bulldogs can’t consistently run the ball, things could get ugly for Chaney in a hurry. He has a solid track record, but Georgia fans aren’t the lenient sort.
Not under pressure: Alabama OC Lane Kiffin
Other lists like this one have pegged Kiffin as on the hot seat, but I don’t buy that. Alabama just won a national title, returns stars at key positions (Calvin Ridley, Cam Robinson, O.J. Howard) and has a wealth of blue-chip talent among its ranks. He needs to pick a quarterback? Shoot, he’s picked one the past two years and that worked OK. Who’s the running back? It doesn’t matter, the starter will be productive. Have we already forgotten how Alabama torched Clemson in the College Football Playoff?