So, the dust has settled, and the SEC has five new head coaches: Chad Morris at Arkansas, Dan Mullen at Florida, Joe Moorhead at Mississippi State, Jeremy Pruitt at Tennessee and Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M.
This piece on Morris and his brand of offense got me to thinking (again) about the topic of why there’s been so much coaching turnover in the conference in the past three seasons and what athletic directors are hoping for with the changes they’ve made.
Saban, of course, is my response to the first question. As for the second, that’s a bit more convoluted to winnow out. Start with this: what’s the background for the current group of SEC coaches?
- Alabama: Saban, former defensive coordinator
- Arkansas: Morris, former offensive coodinator
- Auburn: Malzahn, former offensive coordinator
- LSU: Orgeron, former defensive line coach
- Mississippi State: Moorhead, former offensive coordinator
- Ole Miss: Luke, former offensive line coach
- Texas A&M: Fisher, former (Saban) offensive coordinator
- Florida: Mullen, former offensive coordinator
- Georgia: Smart, former (Saban) defensive coordinator
- Kentucky: Stoops, former defensive coordinator
- Missouri: Odom, former defensive coordinator
- South Carolina: Muschamp, former (Saban) defensive coordinator
- Tennessee: Pruitt, former (Saban) defensive coordinator
- Vanderbilt: Mason, former defensive coordinator
The first thing that jumps out at you there is that schools in the East are more oriented towards defensive guys, particularly former Saban assistants, running their programs than are their Western peers. In the vast scheme of things, I’m not sure how much of a difference it makes. Since 2010, Saban’s last mediocre season (at least by Saban’s standards), Alabama’s lost eight times to SEC West teams and once to an East program. Of those nine, two were to LSU; the rest were to teams that were coached by offensive-minded head coaches.
Even within that overall framework, though, there are some interesting individual cases. Arkansas and Florida in general favor offensive coaches. Missouri may have a former defensive coordinator calling the shots, but the Tigers have been much better on the other side of the ball.
If this is a case of more than one way to skin the Saban, it should be interesting to see which way, if any, has more staying power, and, in turn, if that leads to more imitation in hopes of similar results, although I can’t help but wonder if we’ve already seen the first example of that in Kirby Smart’s success and Tennessee’s hire of Pruitt.