If Week 1 isn’t too early to start talking about coaches on the hot seat, it can’t be too early to talk about hot assistants making bids for more high-profile jobs or special praise.
Here’s a look at the top five coaches either proving themselves as worthwhile (trending upward) or worthless (trending downward) just one weekend into the season.
1. Lane Kiffin, Alabama offensive coordinator
Yes, the offensive mastermind so many love to hate is on track to be the hottest coaching commodity this offseason. The Crimson Tide’s offensive performance in a 52-6 win against No. 20 Southern Cal — led by freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts — shows Kiffin is working some of his familiar magic in Tuscaloosa.
2. Jim Chaney, Georgia offensive coordinator
Kirby Smart should be buying offensive coordinator Jim Chaney dinner every night this week after the Bulldogs’ 33-24 win against No. 22 North Carolina. It helps that Chaney is working with Nick Chubb and the top freshman quarterback in the nation, but he used them both to his fullest advantage Saturday.
3. Geoff Collins, Florida defensive coordinator
Sure, Florida was supposed to beat UMass in its season opener, but the Gators defense absolutely dominated in a 24-7 win and Collins looks all the better for it. UMass tallied just 187 total yards of total offense and 12 first downs. Stingy.
4. Noel Mazzone, Texas A&M offensive coordinator
The Aggies last Saturday hosted No. 16 UCLA, led by Heisman hopeful Josh Rosen. And not only did Texas A&M come away with a 31-24 win, but Mazzone defeated his former employer with a transfer quarterback who ran an offense that totaled 442 yards.
5. Coleman Hutzler, South Carolina special teams coordinator
When your offense struggles to score points, it’s nice to have reliable special teams units. Hutzler’s secret weapons played a key role in a 13-10 Gamecocks win against Vanderbilt. Punter Sean Kelly averaged 39.9 yards on six kicks, while Elliott Fry hit two field goals, including a 55-yard blast with 35 seconds left to win the game.
1. Cam Cameron, LSU offensive coordinator
Les Miles may be the coach in Baton Rouge feeling the most heat, but Cameron is clearly falling short as the team’s offensive play caller and quarterbacks coach. Aside from running back Leonard Fournette, no Tigers player had an outing worth noting against Wisconsin. That’s particularly true of QB Brandon Harris, who is proving he still isn’t a capable college passer.
2. D.J. Eliot, Kentucky defensive coordinator
Southern Mississippi wold love to see the Kentucky defense on the field every week after last Saturday’s 44-35 win. The Wildcats allowed 520 yards, and Eliot didn’t give fans any reason not to root for the start of basketball season.
3. Butch Jones, Tennessee head coach
Jones has an uber-talented roster led by a quarterback considered one of the best in nation. But put a Sun Belt team on the other sideline and the Volunteers nearly crumble. A 13-10 overtime win over Appalachian State isn’t a good start for N0. 9 Tennessee no matter how much Jones says no win is a bad win.
4. DeMontie Cross, Missouri defensive coordinator
It would be nice to give Cross a pass after his first game as the Tigers defensive coordinator, but the defense looked that bad in a 26-11 loss to West Virginia. The Mountaineers dominated time of possession and had 494 yards of total offense. Mizzou offensive coordinator Josh Heupel could very well get this spot alongside Cross, but at least showed the uptempo — if ineffective at scoring — offense he promised.
5. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss head coach
After a tumultuous offseason, a win against No. 4 Florida State would have done wonders for Freeze and the Rebels. And 27 minutes into Monday’s game it looked like a lock, but No. 11 Ole Miss crumbled and lost 45-34. Yes, Chad Kelly that committed four turnovers. But ultimately the blame falls on the head coach when a team falls apart.
SEC Coach of the Year favorite: Nick Saban, Alabama
The SEC belongs to Saban until someone takes it from him. And after watching the Crimson Tide obliterate Southern California last Saturday, it remains an uphill battle for the rest of the conference.