The Internet is a cruel place, especially when college football fans are involved. But when it comes to Google searches, those cruel moments — and related laughs — are mostly unintentional.
We asked a simple question: When people search for SEC head coaches, what are they looking for? We punched in “is Coach X…” and “does Coach X…” for all 14 teams, and uncovered some important facts along the way.
(NOTE: There may or may not be some serious corruption involved with this specific function of the World Wide Web, so we won’t sit here and extol the objectivity of Earth’s largest search engine. But we will use it as a means to entertain people waiting for September to roll around.)
Let’s get to it.
Nick Saban (Alabama)
Annually, there is an unhealthy amount of Saban paranoia in Tuscaloosa. (“Is he leaving?”) Sometimes, it is rightfully expressed. Other times, it’s not. Alabama fans tend to fly off the handle when this discussion comes up. But they’re apparently still asking Google about it.
Also, Nick might have been Lou’s second cousin, but it would likely take a deep dive into Ancestry.com to sort that out.
Bret Bielema (Arkansas)
We’ll let you look up the basic facts here, but one question needs an answer directly from the source: Why are you wearing that jacket, Bret?
This time, a more specific jacket query. The windbreaker is clearly giving Arkansas fans some pause. We smell an investigative piece. Stay tuned.
Gus Malzahn (Auburn)
Wow. Apparently the entire state of Alabama is worried about its coaches sneaking off in the night like Mayflower trucks out of Cleveland. Malzahn just signed an extension, but Tigers fans are allowed to question if he’ll still be at Auburn in four years.
Much like Bielema, Malzahn has some attire concerns he needs to clear up with the fan base.
Jim McElwain (Florida)
These queries were apparently posed before last season, when Florida fans were still trying to discern some basic facts about the eventual SEC East champion.
There’s no need to ask whether your coach was in Tuscaloosa at some point; It’s understood that every SEC staff member was once on Alabama’s payroll. As far as McElwain’s living arrangements? Y’all are getting a little creepy, Florida.
Kirby Smart (Georgia)
We can confirm that two of these things are real, and two of them are not.
Given that Smart, a defensive coordinator last season, was making a higher salary than many FBS head coaches, and given that he’s now the highest-paid state employee in Georgia, his financial affairs will probably be under the microscope for awhile.
Mark Stoops (Kentucky)
Two questions about his spouse, and one simply asking who he is. Factor in that Stoops has the SEC’s third-lowest salary for a head coach, and this is just disheartening.
Here’s a silver lining: Stoops has gone 12-24 in his first three seasons at Kentucky, and fans are still hoping he’ll stay.
Les Miles (LSU)
Tigers fans not only want to know where Les Miles is going, but also where he comes from. That’s deep. As a rule of thumb, it’s bad when fans need to use Google to find out if you are still the coach.
Interesting. A niche search about Miles’ hair color. The results indicate that LSU fans were clamoring for information about this roughly four or five years ago, with one user wondering, “Why would he want to do this?” Those were simpler times.
Hugh Freeze (Ole Miss)
Another paranoid fan base. We presume these queries were mostly from last offseason (especially the “going to florida” search), because Ole Miss now has bigger issues than a coach with a wandering eye.
We’re getting enigmatic here. Did Freeze “hint?” Hint at what? WHAT? And the high-school football question is a bit odd at first — most coaches played through college — but has merit; Freeze never played a down of college football, and specifics of his high-school career are not readily available.
Dan Mullen (Mississippi State)
Mullen’s potential departure has been brought up enough times that he felt he needed to directly address it earlier this year.
Back in the fall of 2014, Mullen’s name kept popping up in relation to the open Michigan job. Southeastern Conference fans probably wish he would’ve taken it, given that the Wolverines’ eventual choice has sparked a regional war.
Barry Odom (Missouri)
Sorry, Missouri fans. Barry Odom is still a new kid on the Google block, so his name did not inspire any suggestions. In his place, we went with Barry Manilow, who is definitely still alive.
Our thorough reporting revealed another cryptic message: Does Barry Manilow “know?” We’re already losing sleep over this. Please leave any and all tips in the comments section.
Butch Jones (Tennessee)
People don’t search for Butch Jones much, it seems. Google says Jones is married with three children.
People have been searching “can Butch Jones win at Tennessee?” as if there is a factual answer available. While those users are bound to be disappointed (in the search results and, potentially, in this year’s SEC standings), we are not disappointed one bit by his high-school band uniform.
Kevin Sumlin (Texas A&M)
It doesn’t appear as if Kevin is related to Hubert, the late guitarist, and there’s not much reason to think he’s related to Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin other than their shared love of facial hair.
“Does Kevin Sumlin like Johnny Manziel?” Does Johnny Manziel like Johnny Manziel at this point?
Derek Mason (Vanderbilt)
Nashville will forever get Derek Mason and Derrick Mason — the former Tennessee Titans star who currently hosts a radio show in town — confused.
Much like Barry Odom, the results ran dry for Mason. So we let Google fill in most of this one. Apparently the most famous “Derek” is a TV character from the long-running drama Grey’s Anatomy. After further research, we’re pretty sure of two things: Derek cheated on Meredith, and now he’s dead.