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Miles On The SEC’s Hottest Seat

The headline for this year’s breakdown of “The Hot Seat Syndrome” was going to be the same as last year’s:

“Miles And Richt Sit On The SEC’s Hottest Seats”

But recent events at Georgia have changed my thinking.  That’s why Les Miles — who won a national championship in 2007 — is all by his lonesome at the top of MrSEC.com’s hot seat rankings for Summer 2010.

Here’s what I asked myself when trying to decide whose seats are warmest:


* Which coach can least afford a bad, bad year?  In other words, how much equity has the coach built up?

* Perception is reality… so which coaches are battling perception problems?

* Which programs’ fans and boosters have the highest expectations?

* Is the coach still new to the job — or winning enough to still feel “new” — or are fans starting to get a wandering eye?

* Is the administration fully supportive of a coach or could a year of empty seats and smaller donations lead to change?


I gave out a grade of 1 to 5 for each category as follows:

Equity — 5 is best, 1 is worst
Newness — 5 is best, 1 is worst
Support — 5 is best, 1 is worst
Perception — 1 is best, 5 is worst
Expectations — 1 is best, 5 is worst


I then added Equity, Newness and Support together to get a coach’s positive score and added Perception and Expectations to get his negative score.  Check the difference between the two scores and you get our hot seat score.

Keep in mind, each ranking is unique to a coach and his school.  Nick Saban has done more than Dan Mullen, obviously, but Mullen is just as safe as Saban when it comes to his relationship with his school.

Here are the results from warmest seat to coolest:


LES MILES, LSU
TOTAL: -3

Equity: 3
Newness: 1
Support: 3
Perception: -5
Expectations: -5

The situation:  Folks on the Bayou don’t like losing.  And they don’t like losing while Nick Saban is winning.  Last year’s game management gaffes hurt Miles’ reputation, too.  If LSU “suffers” through an 8-win type of season, don’t be surprised if Miles doesn’t pull up stakes and head to safer ground.

Should his seat be warm:  Yes.  It’s fair to wonder if he is simply a good coach in a great job.


STEVE SPURRIER, SOUTH CAROLINA
TOTAL: 1

Equity: 3
Newness: 2
Support: 3
Perception: -4
Expectations: -3

The situation:  Spurrier was expected to turn South Carolina around.  He hasn’t.  He hasn’t pushed the Gamecocks past Clemson inside their homestate, either.  He hasn’t recruited all-star teams.  And he hasn’t looked like the same coach who owned the SEC in the ’90s.  I don’t see Carolina ever firing Spurrier, but if another disappointing season further erodes his fan support, I could picture the Ol’ Ball Coach walking away.

Should his seat be warm:  A little, yes.  Spurrier was hired to be an offensive guru.  That hasn’t happened and his penchant for playing mindgames with his quarterbacks has probably been one reason why it hasn’t.  Big year for Spurrier.


MARK RICHT, GEORGIA
TOTAL: 2

Equity: 4
Newness: 1
Support: 5
Perception: -3
Expectations: -5

The situation:  Richt is the longest-tenured SEC football coach.  That’s become a bad thing.  There’s a perception among some Bulldog fans that Richt can’t win the big one and can’t beat Florida (though I’m not sure who can regularly best Florida these days).  In the long run, a new athletic director could impact Richt’s job status… but not in the short run.  Even if UGA has another 8-win season and fans revolt, Georgia officials won’t want to make two big changes in the same year.

Should his seat be warm:  No.  The man has won 90 games in nine seasons and he’s as good a representative of his school as anyone in the nation. 


HOUSTON NUTT, OLE MISS
Total: 3

Equity: 3
Newness: 3
Support: 4
Perception: -3
Expectations: -4

The situation:  Nutt has only been at Ole Miss for two seasons, but a decade at Arkansas also plays into his reputation.  He is viewed by many as a guy who can do a lot with a little… but can do only a little with a lot.  See his first year (big surprise) and his second year (big disappointment) in Oxford for a better understanding of his rep.

Should his seat be warm:  Probably not.  But for a program that hasn’t won a national title since the early ’60s, Mississippi fans have some awfully high expectations.


BOBBY PETRINO, ARKANSAS
TOTAL: 4

Equity: 3
Newness: 3
Support: 5
Perception: -3
Expectations: -4

The situation:  Everyone is in love with Petrino right now.  The Razorbacks are expected to take a nice step forward this season.  But if things don’t go well, you can’t expect folks to start grumbling.

Should his seat be warm:  Not for this season, no.  But if the defense does not make big improvements, it will be fair to ask if Petrino understands how important D is in the SEC.


DEREK DOOLEY, TENNESSEE
TOTAL: 6

Equity: 1
Newness: 5
Support: 5
Perception: -2
Expectations: -3

The situation:  Dooley’s score should be higher, but we can only go to 5 in terms of university support.  In reality, Dooley is as safe as any coach in the conference.  He has a six-year deal and he’s the third coach in Knoxville in three seasons.  He’ll be at UT until he turns things around or until he utterly fails.  The man has plenty of time.  And — judging from ticket sales — it seems that UT fans aren’t expecting much this season, either.  Advantage: Dooley.

Should his seat be warm:  First year?  Of course not.


BOBBY JOHNSON, VANDERBILT
TOTAL: 6

Equity: 4
Newness: 2
Support: 5
Perception: -3
Expectations: -2

The situation:  Johnson’s teams are competitive, but they’re usually ugly on offense.  Not even Vandy fans like watching 10-7 and 13-10 football games.

Should his seat be warm:  Are you kidding?  The man stopped a decades-long losing streak to Tennessee and then not only took Vandy to a bowl game but he won it, too.  The Commodores are also much more competitive week-in and week-out than they were pre-Johnson.  He should have a statue outside the stadium.


GENE CHIZIK, AUBURN
TOTAL: 7

Equity: 3
Newness: 5
Support: 5
Perception: -1
Expectations: -4

The situation:  Chizik was seen as a bad hire, then he looked great early last season, then a midseason losing streak made him look bad, then he led AU to a bowl AND put a scare into Bama.  That last part might have been his biggest achievement.  Eventually, Tiger fans will expect to beat the Tide, but for now, Chizik is popular and safe.

Should his seat be warm:  Nope.


JOKER PHILLIPS, KENTUCKY
TOTAL:  7

Equity: 1
Newness: 5
Support: 5
Perception: -2
Expectations: -2

The situation:  Kentucky remains a basketball school.  UK’s football expectations just aren’t that high yet.  Phillips will be given plenty of time to build up the Cats.  But even if he just plateaus at the same level Rich Brooks reached he’ll be safe and secure in Lexington.  As he should be.  UK wants more, but six to eight wins per year is a big improvement over what Kentucky has traditionally accomplished.

Should his seat be warm:  Not at all.


DAN MULLEN, MISSISSIPPI STATE
TOTAL: 9

Equity: 4
Newness: 5
Support: 5
Perception: -2
Expectations: -3

The situation:  Mullen was one of only two SEC coaches to not reach a bowl last year, but he might have re-charged his fanbase’s batteries more than any of the 10 who did go bowling.  Whipping Ole Miss — and gigging them in the process — is a soothing balm for long-suffering Staties.

Should his seat be warm:  Nuh-uh.  No way.


URBAN MEYER, FLORIDA
TOTAL: 9

Equity: 5
Newness: 5
Support: 5
Perception: -1
Expectations: -5

The situation:  Untouchable.  In fact, the UF administration fought to keep him around when he toyed with the idea of retiring.  Every coach on our list was graded 1-5 in terms of perception problems.  So Meyer gets a 1 there (which equals a -1 in our tally), but in reality he doesn’t have any perception issues when it comes to Gator fans and Jeremy Foley.

Should his seat be warm:  Are you kidding?


NICK SABAN, ALABAMA
TOTAL: 9

Equity: 5
Newness: 5
Support: 5
Perception: -1
Expectations: 5

The situation:  They really area erecting a statue of him outside Bryant-Denny Stadium.  While he’s still coaching.  ‘Nuff said.

Should his seat be warm:  Two national titles at two different schools in the toughest league in America in the span of one decade.  His seat is so cool it’s a throne of ice.



Finally, which coaches are REALLY in danger of being forced out if they have a catastrophic season:

Only Les Miles.  I believe Steve Spurrier might walk away on his own if things go badly, but no other SEC coaches are in danger of being canned this year.

 


Trackbacks

  1. [...] This is just the cherry on top of the sundae for Mark Richt this week.  He already deals with the hot seat canard on the recruiting trail.  Then he got hit with the Damon Evans dismissal.  And now, this, the [...]



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