The force has been strong with SEC football over the years, as schools continue to become one with the force. How else could the conference capture eight of the last 10 national championships?
With the new Star Wars movie, Rogue One, being released last Saturday, now is the perfect time to look through which coaches fit the lead characters in the Star Wars films.
There isn’t a perfect fit for some of the main characters, so mainstays like Princess Leia and Yoda might not be represented. However, we tried our best to match up personalities with notable characters.
Here is a full list of which Star Wars character best represents each SEC football coach.
Nick Saban: Darth Vader
Don’t think of whiny Anakin or weakened Return of the Jedi Darth Vader, think of the menace we just saw in Rogue One or The Empire Strikes Back. You’re much better off just staying out of his way.
Bret Bielema: Han Solo
In previous years, Les Miles would have obviously been Han Solo. But now, Bielema takes his place as the SEC’s smoothest talker. Bielema joined this franchise late after several productive years spent in the galaxy’s underworld (Big Ten, anyone?). It takes him a while to warm up to the rebel cause, but he soon becomes invested and successful later in the series, just like how Bielema tends to coach exceptionally well in November.
Gus Malzahn: Luke Skywalker
Malzahn has the misfortune of being within the same state as the most powerful being in the entire galaxy: Saban. But with Malzahn’s resurgence this season, he is the lone embodiment of A New Hope for the SEC empire. After an improbable victory (blowing up the Death Star/the kick six), he was weakened, either by having his hand cut off or starting Jeremy Johnson at quarterback. Can Malzahn eventually save the galaxy?
Jim McElwain: Count Dooku
Dooku is a former member of the Jedi, but left for the dark side after the death of Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace. Similarly, McElwain left Saban’s staff to go off on his own. He quickly became the class of his domain, in this case the SEC East. However, he is no match for Anakin Skywalker embracing the dark side and becoming Darth Vader and is easily destroyed in the SEC Championship Game.
Kirby Smart: Episode I Anakin Skywalker
From every usual measurable, it seemed Kirby Smart was ready to become a head coach. He was plucked right off the Saban tree after winning national championships and was returning to his alma mater. He’d almost surely have midichlorian levels that are off the charts. Unfortunately, midichlorians still are a dumb Star Wars plot point, and they don’t seem to have helped Smart at all yet. Maybe, he’ll develop into a powerful Jedi someday, but it sure hasn’t happened yet.
Mark Stoops: R2-D2
Away from the movies, R2 is a relatively forgettable character. He falls behind the more notable human characters in the pecking order. However, R2 is quietly essential to the missions throughout the series. Stoops has quietly overcome some bad early decisions to lead his team to its best season since 2010.
Ed Orgeron: Chewbacca
Chewie, you’re home. Orgeron is the most beloved and passionate character in the entire SEC that no one can quite understand. But while he gets attention for his physical stature, Orgeron is a great coach and fiercely loyal to his roots. Everyone should be excited to see what happens next for both Orgeron and Chewbacca in the coming movies as more of a leading man — er, Wookiee.
Dan Mullen: Obi-Wan Kenobi
Not only is Obi-Wan one of the more underrated characters in Star Wars, he also is instrumental in developing some of the best young Jedi. That would seem to describe Mullen, who continues to get great production out of his Mississippi State team and the quarterbacks he coaches. Dak Prescott and Tim Tebow obviously are among the SEC’s greatest quarterbacks in recent memory.
Barry Odom: Finn
Odom surely feels gratitude to his alma mater and stepped in to try and help in a tumultuous time rather than taking the easy way out. But like Finn in The Force Awakens, Odom probably took on a little more than he could chew his first season in Columbia. Of course, Odom will have plenty of time to develop as a character the next few years.
Hugh Freeze: Padmé Amidala
Freeze is one of the best coaches in the conference. But like Padmé, he unleashed some of the greatest good (Luke and Leia) and bad (Darth Vader) in the conference. Ole Miss won 10 games last season for the second time since 1971, and the quarterback development has been second to none. Unfortunately, the program could be facing major sanctions before long. Good will have to win out in the end, for Freeze’s sake.
Will Muschamp: Kylo Ren
Kylo Ren is an emotional killing machine trying to live up to the legacy of Darth Vader, of whom he is kin. Similarly, Muschamp came off the Saban tree and saw some early success at Florida. However, he often falls prey to his temper. Unfortunately, he’ll probably never be as powerful as Darth Vader.
Butch Jones: Jar Jar Binks
Poor Butch Jones. In so many ways, he’s seemed to do things the right way. Tennessee made great hires at both coordinators, recruited at a high level and developed players decently well. But every so often, Jones would just make a Jar Jar-like blunder that cost his team chances. Most ended up working out in the end, but the coaching staff’s influence was severely diminished by the end of the season. And saying that they’re Champions of Life right before losing to Vanderbilt? That’s a Jar Jar move.
Kevin Sumlin: Boba Fett
When The Empire Strikes Back came out, Fett was hailed as one of the coolest characters in the movie. A bounty hunter created as an unaltered clone of his father, Fett had awesome armor and a swagger to him. But even though fans loved Fett after he trapped Han Solo and led Luke Skywalker to the Empire, he ultimately came to a quick and unsatisfying end in the Sarlacc pit. Unfortunately, that sure reminds us of a coach with a Swagcopter who hasn’t been able to capitalize on his big accomplishment — beating Alabama.
Derek Mason: Lando Calrissian
Next to Bielema, there isn’t a better talker in the SEC than Mason. After an underwhelming start to his career, Calrissian found the light. He eventually became a major player in the Star Wars universe. He even was one of the leading pilots in the rebellion when it blew up the second Death Star and defeated the Empire. We don’t know whether Mason will grow into that role just yet, but the future looks bright.