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.