The only thing that matters

Jason Butt thinks Dan Mullen’s program is such a loser.

Loser: Mississippi State

While the SEC expanded the serious misconduct policy for transfers, incoming freshmen are still not included. That allowed Mississippi State to admit five-star defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons to the program and suspend him for only one game while undergoing counseling.

Athletics director Scott Stricklin took bullets in an impromptu gathering with reporters, with head coach Dan Mullen and university president Mark E. Keenum electing to avoid the issue. The punishment of only a one-game suspension does not appear to fit the crime of repeatedly punching a woman in the face while on the ground — a violent encounter caught on video.

If Mississippi State wanted to admit Simmons, a year-long suspension, at minimum, was necessary. A one-game suspension, against South Alabama at that, is incredibly weak and serves the best interest of nobody involved in intercollegiate athletics.

If media tsking is the measure of winning and losing, I guess he has a point, but, meanwhile, in the real world, let Andy Staples explain what losing looks like in the SEC West.

As the SEC’s coaches modeled their finest cabana wear last week and headed into a meeting room where they would spend entirely too much time talking about satellite camps, everyone looked so familiar. Eleven of 14 had been in the same room in a Destin, Fla., hotel the year before. One of the other three, first-year South Carolina coach Will Muschamp, was back after a one-year break following his firing at Florida. One of the new guys, first-year Georgia coach Kirby Smart, had been defensive coordinator at Alabama so long that it already felt as if he were an SEC head coach. But come next year, the population of that room could be quite different.

Mark Stoops at Kentucky and Derek Mason at Vanderbilt face the pressure of winning at schools that don’t usually win at football, and they may find themselves getting churned to reinvigorate donor bases who will likely be just as disappointed by their replacements. But those are standard situations. The oddity is in the SEC West. Consider the cases of these three coaches:

  • One coach has a national title, two SEC titles and has averaged 10 wins a season since 2011.
  • One coach won an SEC title in his first season and came within 13 seconds of winning a national title that same year. That all happened less than three years ago.
  • One coach has averaged nine wins in his four seasons at his school and is only the second coach in his school’s history to win at least eight games in each of his first four seasons.

What do those three coaches have in common—other than apparent success? They’ll all start the season on the hot seat as the SEC West approaches coaching critical mass. You’ve probably already figured out that the first coach is LSU’s Les Miles. The second is Auburn’s Gus Malzahn. The third is Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin. And the odds are that at least one and possibly more of these coaches won’t be in that room in Destin next year. If they worked almost anywhere else, Miles, Malzahn and Sumlin would be perfectly safe. But they work in the SEC West, where every head football coach makes at least $4 million and everyone expects results commensurate with compensation…

Only the lunatic fringe of the fanbases at Arkansas, Mississippi State and Ole Miss expect national titles. The mainstream groups have more realistic goals. So Bret Bielema, Mullen and Hugh Freeze* aren’t in any danger unless they preside over particularly disastrous seasons.

Staples goes on to describe Nick Saban as “obviously safe”.  That despite the fact that the SEC passed a transfer restriction rule in the wake of his signing a kid kicked out of Georgia after being charged with assaulting a woman. Er, not just passed in response, but commonly named for.  Nor is that the first rule Nick Saban has inspired. So exactly what kind of message should Dan Mullen take from all this?

Know where the envelope’s edge is, push it as far as you can go, and win games or lose your job.  Your $4 million a year job.  It’s really that simple.


Filed under SEC Football

23 responses to “The only thing that matters

  1. Chi-town Dawg

    I’m not familiar with Dan Mullen’s contract, but if it’s like most NCAA head coaching contracts, he has at least 4 years guaranteed beyond the current season for, you know, the recruits because he’s certainly going to stay the entire time they’re at his school (insert sarcastic laugh). This means he’ll likely walk away with $16M as his severance payment should the school terminate his employment. I find it hard to have much sympathy for him if he loses his job. Are the fan’s expectations at some of these school’s perhaps a little unrealistic? Who knows, it probably depends on your opinion. However, if these guys want to be compensated like CEO’s, they know the expectations coming in and better deliver or else the fans/schools have every right to send them packing. I’m surprised more ADs haven’t started feeling the pressure and lost their jobs as well. We’ve seen some of this, but only after several botched football coaching hires or an NCAA scandal. Otherwise, they continue to collect their rapidly rising salaries.

    • JCDAWG83

      McGarity’s continued employment is all the proof you need that ADs jobs are pretty well for life. As of yet, not one of his coaching hires who have actually coached some games have been anything other than below average. ADs don’t get fired because the fans keep sending in the checks and the boards who make the hiring and firing decisions see the money flowing in as an endorsement of the ADs work.

      • And in the case of Georgia that is the irony of wanting the success of Kirby vs the need to fire ADGM.

        • JCDAWG83

          I’d say we missed a great opportunity to fire McGarity when we fired Richt. Again, the fans vote with their wallets, or at least that’s how the board sees it. The drop in “donations” this year has certainly gotten the full attention of the big dawgs at BM. They have taken a big roll of the dice with the announced increase in “donation” requirements and ticket prices for 2017. Any sort of disappointing season and they might find themselves with some empty seats in 2017.

          If that happens, I think McGarity decides to “resign”.

          • Chi-town Dawg

            Agree JC but with one exception – McGarity will “retire” and collect a nice state pension.

      • Somebody posted here last week, but the fact that he’s banking on donors to fund significant capital projects when we are in the lowest interest rate environment we will ever see when we have huge reserves as collateral shows how little he understands about what he’s doing. It’s going to be real fun in three of four years when interest rates finally rise and he can’t go back to the donor well for whatever is next in the facility arms race. He’s a man that has literally zero foresight on what’s coming down the pipe.

  2. AusDawg85

    Win at all costs…minus one inch…seems to be the line coaches, fans, AD’s, etc. are all willing to snuggle up to. With all the jostling, pushing and shoving that close to the edge, is it any wonder so many cross over? All for a piece of crystal, t-shirt and bragging rights in a bar.

    Off-topic: Valet attendant last night noticed my UGA tags and asked, “Didn’t you guys get a new coach? Hope he recruits as well as the last one but wins this time.” Ouch. But at least TAMU’s defection to the SEC has raised awareness in Big12 country where most could not find Georgia on a map before. So wish we’d schedule a series with Texas.

    • Texans’ know about Georgia but they are just too much on themselves, LOL.

    • What time is it in Texas?

      • 83dawg

        I was waiting for someone to say that 😎

        Watched that game on TV at ‘The Fifth Quarter’

        Until the last 5 minutes or so, it was (and remains) one of the worst football games I have ever seen.

        • Russ

          It was wonderful in person, especially given the arrogant/condescending Texas fan sitting in front of me. He was very condescending at the start of the game (“Georgia has a good team, but….”), not so much when Lastinger dove into the endzone.

          • 83dawg

            After posting that, I went back and watched more of the game.
            Most of the 4th quarter was a good game.

            And, yes–UGA had run the QB option to the right numerous times, with mixed results. This time Lastinger looked to have the first down and looked up and there was nothing but end zone ahead.

            Texas was #2 in the country with the #1 defense and no one took the quarterback on that play 8-0

            And it is ALWAYS ten to nine in Texas😎

            • Chi-town Dawg

              I believe that loss cost Texas the national championship as well because the number 1 team in the polls was later upset.

              • 83dawg

                Not entirely sure.
                UM defeated a very very very good Nebraska in a classic game–they might have jumped Texas anyway.

                Mind, not sure how much it energized UM knowing before the game that #2 was down and the orange bowl was now a de facto championship game.

                It was a very strange day in college football😎

                • The Dawg abides

                  I just don’t see any way a one-loss, one-tie Miami would haved jumped an undefeated Texas. The funny part was all the Auburn fans that went to sleep that night believing they would be voted number one. They came into Jan 1 at number three, saw the two teams ahead of them lose, and stayed at number three in the final polls. I’ll always believe we snatched a natty right out of Texas’ hands.

  3. Go Dawgs!

    Boy, I don’t know that I agree with his assessment that the fan bases at Ole Miss and Arkansas aren’t expecting national championships. Ole Miss has been convinced since Archie that the national title is a possibility for their program, and they fired a great head coach in Cutcliffe when he couldn’t even turn in an SEC title. The rare air they’ve occupied the past two years thanks to the underhanded dealings of Hugh Freeze have only underlined the idea in their minds that they might be close to it. Rebel fans will suffer the embarrassment of accusations (and proof!) of cheating if it means they win. But if Freeze is embarrassing them and not turning in wins? That seat will heat up fast.

    And Arkansas? Forget it. That place continues to be a dumpster fire of unrealistic expectation.

    • JCDAWG83

      The “rare air” they have occupied has been pretty much the same air Georgia has occupied, the “almost great” air. The difference is; Ole Miss is cheating to get there and may end up wandering in the desert for years due to NCAA sanctions and they still probably won’t have a championship to show for it either.

  4. Comin' Down The Track

    I like seeing an asterisk beside Hugh Freeze* in that column. We could make that a thing.

  5. With regard to Saban, and overcoming Bama dominance that has put so much pressure on everyone else, you have to ask “when will some Patriot step up …?”