Just to put into perspective how tenuous job security is for SEC head coaches these days, Sports Illustrated published a story on Monday that categorized 12 coaches across the country with varying levels of danger.
Half of them were from the SEC.
The story written by Andy Staples understandably has Tennessee coach Butch Jones in the most dire of situations along with one other coach, Nebraska’s Mike Riley.
However, he explains the status of a handful of other SEC coaches. Arkansas coach Bret Bielema is among three coaches in the “Not quite there, but headed that way” category. Here’s what Staples had to say about Bielema:
“A reporter in Arkansas actually read Bielema’s contract last week and discovered that Bielema’s buyout is far less—$10.2 million less, to be exact—than previously believed. This changes the math considerably for a program that has lost seven of its last 10 games. Razorbacks AD Jeff Long loves Bielema and will support him for as long as he can, but Arkansas has to win a few down the stretch.”
Bielema’s Razorbacks are off to a disappointing 2-4 start with Auburn coming to Fayetteville this Saturday.
The “It’s still early, but yikes” category includes Missouri coach Barry Odom, who’s one of only two coaches in that pegging. Since winning their season opener against Missouri State, the Tigers are on a five-game losing streak, having dropped those games by a combined 118 points. The only single-digit loss came in a 40-34 loss at Kentucky.
It would behoove Odom to win the team’s next two non-conference matchups against Idaho and UConn before returning to SEC play.
Meanwhile, things look more rosy for Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, who’s in the “Playing their way into staying” slot. Here’s what Staples had to say about Sumlin:
“Sumlin’s AD went on national television in May and basically said the coach would be fired if he didn’t improve the Aggies’ record. After a season-opening collapse at UCLA, that seemed impossible. But Texas A&M has improved as freshman quarterback Kellen Mond has grown more comfortable. Giving Alabama the toughest challenge it has faced all season didn’t result in a win, but it did boost a young team’s confidence. A road win this past Saturday at Florida wasn’t perfect, but the defense stuffed the Gators when it had to and Mond got the Aggies close enough for three Daniel LaCamera field goals in the fourth quarter. Because of the history here, an 8-4 record might still get Sumlin fired. But 9-3 looks quite realistic, and that might keep Sumlin in College Station.”
Jim McElwain and Gus Malzahn were the only two coaches featured in the “We hear what you want, but you may not get it” category. Staples points at McElwain’s inability to “select or develop quarterbacks,” but two SEC East titles and a costly buyout will keep McElwain in Gainesville for another year.
As for Malzahn, he’s not as safe as McElwain. Auburn had issues adjusting after the break in its 20-point collapse against LSU this past Saturday, which has been a trend under Malzahn, as our Justin Ferguson has explained.