By: JJ Lanier
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
When I realized earlier this year the SEC had no turnover within their head coaching ranks after last season, I reacted like you do when you get a perfect pump at the gas stations- I was caught by surprise, immediately told anyone around me what had transpired, and knew that it would be a while before it happened again.
So, while it was a nice story that no head coach lost their job, you knew a few wouldn’t be so lucky this time around.
Of the three coaching changes that have taken place, one you could see coming before the season even started (Arkansas), one made sense even though it wasn’t a foregone conclusion (Missouri), and the other seemed to take place in part due to a poorly timed, even though well executed, end zone celebration (Ole Miss).
Regardless of why any of the changes were made, the only thing that matters is “will their respective replacements be an upgrade?” That’s where things get a little more interesting.
If the adage about not hiring the same type of coach you just fired was ever engraved on a plaque, I imagine you’d see it placed sporadically throughout the hallways of the Ole Miss athletic facility.
In the span of three years the Rebels football team will have been coached by Hugh Freeze, Matt Luke, and now Lane Kiffin, who is basically Hugh Freeze on a steady diet of Red Bull, Jägermeister, and Birthday Cake Oreos.
As far as what Ole Miss can expect to see on the field, it’s a good hire. I think Kiffin is an above average coach, who will recruit well for the program.
The problem is you have no idea what’s going to happen off the field. It’s like driving 120 in a 35mph zone- it’s a great thrill ride, if you make it to the end, but more than likely you’re going to run off the road, drive head first into a tree, and die in a spectacular explosion. Welcome to the Lane Kiffin era, Oxford, I hope you have good airbags.
I can’t blame Eliah Drinkwitz for leaving App. State to go to Missouri- you can’t pass up a 400% raise in salary- but I do question why the Tigers are paying him that much ($4 million) to come to Columbia.
Drinkwitz was in the precarious situation in Boone where he inherited a very talented team and was able to lead them to a very successful season.
Was he the reason for the success, or just in the right place at the right time? Like most things, the answer is a mixture of the two, but that’s still an awful lot of money to pay a coach with one year of head coaching experience, especially when it didn’t seem like there was much competition for his services, outside of Missouri.
As for Arkansas, I don’t know much about Sam Pittman, except he seems to be popular among his peers and was an impactful recruiter at Georgia.
Pittman was the backup plan to the backup plan on the Razorbacks list of coaches, but it doesn’t matter how or why he got the job, only what he does with it now that he has it.
There may still be another coaching casualty after the bowl games, but for right now this is the new crop of SEC head coaches.
It may be a while before the conference goes a year without having any turnover; my bet is at least two of these coaches will be contributors as to why.