Among the many things SEC fans pride themselves on are the quality of coaches from top-to-bottom in the conference. Heading into 2009 there will be three new coaches roaming the sidelines: Auburn's Gene Chizik, Miss State's Dan Mullen and Tennessee's Lane Kiffin. I had a lengthy debate with some friends Thursday about Chizik and his chances and that led to a broader discussion of conference coaches in general.
We began ranking each SEC coach on a scale of one to five (five being the highest) on the probability that they'll still be at their school five seasons from now. It got so hotly debated that I thought it would be a good discussion to have here at Track'em Tigers.
Here's my take...
Gene Chizik (Auburn) 2.5 - Despite showing some early signs of being an excellent choice, it's hard to give Chizik anything better than a 50-50 chance. Because of his lackluster record at Iowa State, the honeymoon period for him will be all but non-existent. The fact that he's tied to the highly unpopular athletic director, Jay Jacobs, doesn't work in his favor.
Les Miles (LSU) 3.5 - Miles doesn't get enough credit for what he's accomplished in Baton Rouge. Maybe this should tell him something. He reminds me a lot of Terry Bowden and his tenure at Auburn. Personality wise, he just doesn't seem to fit in at LSU. On the flip side, he's got all the tools at his disposal to be a success. If he solves his quarterbacking problem, the Bayou Bengals should again contend for the conference championship.
Nick Saban (Alabama) 2.0 - Considering Saban has never lasted more than five seasons anywhere, there's no reason to believe he'll do it in Tuscaloosa. Plus, with all the rumors of an NCAA investigation swirling around the state, you can't help but think the end is sooner rather than later.
Houston Nutt (Ole Miss) 4.0 - Nutt has proven that he's one of the best field generals in the game. The big question is whether he can win after Ed Orgeron's players graduate. He'll need to improve his recruiting skills to have a chance. Overall, Nutt seems to be a solid fit in Oxford.
Bobby Petrino (Arkansas) 4.0 - Despite his character flaws, Petrino is among the brightest offensive minds in the game. Arkansas is glad to have him. Most other schools will not touch him with a ten-foot pole. This means a rather lengthy marriage in Fayetteville.
Dan Mullen (Miss State) 2.0 - Can anyone make it more than five years in Starkville without cheating? Mullen looks to be a solid hire. But my guess is he'll parlay his first big winning season into a better job.
Urban Meyer (Florida) 1.0 - With two national titles under his belt and perhaps the best quarterback to ever play the game graduating at season's end, look for Meyer to bolt for South Bend and the Notre Dame job the second it opens. Don't forget, he's named after a Pope and still covets the job.
Mark Richt (Georgia) 3.5 - On the surface you may think this number is low. But Athletic Director Damon Evans made some interesting off-season comments about his displeasure with last year and Georgia's inability to catch Florida. Last season was deemed a disappointment by most Georgia fans and with Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno headed to the NFL, things won't be any easier this year. Richt's seat may not be hot, but it's certainly warming.
Lane Kiffin (Tennessee) 3.0 - Along with Chizik, this is the toughest one to rate. Kiffin has surrounded himself with excellent on-field coaches and recruiters. His dad, Monte is perhaps the best defensive mind in all of football - NFL or college. Combine this with Orgeron's recruiting ability and you have to think Kiffin has a better than average chance of succeeding.
Steve Spurrier (South Carolina) 1.0 - Five years from now the ole ball coach will likely be spending his days on the golf course. Last season, Spurrier looked like a beaten man. His inability to develop a proven quarterback has to be a tough pill to swallow for the former Heisman winner. Many believe 2009 will be his last on the sidelines.
Rich Brooks (Kentucky) 1.0 - Brooks has already named assistant Joker Phillips the "coach in waiting" and is likely to wind down his career in the next couple of years. Give Brooks credit: He's won at a place where few have in the past.
Bobby Johnson (Vanderbilt) 1.0 - Staying eight seasons and leading the Commodores to a winning record and bowl victory is enough to have your named etched on the stadium in Nashville. To think anyone could last at Vandy more than a decade is unfathomable.
So there you have it. What are your thoughts?