Emphasis on the word “first”.
Since 1996, 16 coaches have gotten their first college head coaching job in the SEC. In their SEC careers, those coaches combined to win 49 percent of their games overall and 39 percent of their SEC games. No rookie head coach has eventually taken his school to the SEC Championship Game at any point in his career since Phillip Fulmer, who debuted at Tennessee during the 1992 season.
Now, obviously, given that most new coaches are brought on because their predecessors didn’t perform well enough to keep their jobs, those percentages shouldn’t come as much of a shock. And I think we’d all agree Smart walks into a better situation in Athens than, say, Mark Stoops did a few years ago at Kentucky.
There’s one other thing that may work in Smart’s favor. From a coaching perspective, the SEC is a green league in 2016.
It’s fair to say there has never been this much uncertainty about the long-term careers of so many SEC coaches. In fact, 2016 is collectively the SEC’s least experienced group of coaches in 52 years as the conference rebuilds its coaching depth, according to a CBS Sports analysis of SEC head-coaching careers…
On average, the SEC’s 2016 coaches have been a college head coach for 6.6 years. A year ago, the SEC coaches averaged 10.1 years in head-coaching experience. Since the SEC’s national title run began in 2006, the lowest average was 7.6 years in 2010.
You have to go back to 1964, when the SEC’s coaches averaged 5.8 years of experience, to find a year with head coaching resumes this short. That was Vince Dooley’s rookie year as coach at Georgia. Sound familiar in 2016, Georgia fans?
This is pretty amazing: during the regular season, Georgia doesn’t face a single SEC head coach with a decade of experience in that role. Six of Smart’s conference peers he’ll see don’t even have five years’ worth.