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Weekend Coaching Moves And Rumors From Across The SEC

So what coaches are coming and going around the SEC?  Below is an update for each school, complete with the list of 14 head coaches — as of now — who’ll patrol the league’s sidelines next season.  We’ll take it in alphabetical order…

AlabamaHead Coach Nick Saban (2012 will be 6th season in Tuscaloosa)

It looks now like both of Bama’s coordinators will be back in 2012.  Defensive coordinator Kirby Smart was believed to be a candidate for the head coaching jobs at Ole Miss and Texas A&M, but neither job went his way.

Offensive coordinator Jim McElwain reportedly backed out of the running at Memphis amidst contract negotiations and he reportedly pulled his name out of the mix at Fresno State over the weekend.

ArkansasHead Coach Bobby Petrino (2012 will be 5th season in Fayetteville)

Petrino lost all three of his coordinators — offense, defense and special teams — but those roles have already been filled.  Petrino’s brother, Paul, will take over for Garrick McGee who has taken over as head coach at UAB.  Paul Petrino ran the Razorbacks’ offense prior to McGee, but he spent the past two seasons as Illinois’ O-coordinator.

On defense, Willy Robinson “resigned,” and has been replaced by former Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Paul Haynes.  Haynes was hired Friday.  He served with Petrino

Special teams coordinator John L. Smith departed to be the head coach at Weber State and that set off a chain reaction of moves.  Steve Caldwell — UA’s defensive ends coach — will take over the special teams units.

Petrino has also shifted Bobby Allen from defensive tackles to defensive backs.  Reggie Johnson will coach the linebackers — both inside and outside.  And director of high school relations Kevin Peoples has been promoted to defensive tackles coach.

AuburnHead Coach Gene Chizik (2012 will be 4th season in Auburn)

Defensive coordinator Ted Roof departed for the same job at Central Florida last week.  Chizik is taking over the D-coordinator role for the Tigers’ Chick-fil-A Bowl appearance.

Reports suggest Chizik has already had preliminary talks with Florida State coordinator Mark Stoops… who led a Top 10 defense in Tallahassee this past season.

Former North Carolina defensive coordinator is also considered to be a frontrunner for the position, but Ohio State’s Urban Meyer is reportedly interested in him as well.

Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn — once believed to be a leading candidate for head coaching jobs at North Carolina and Kansas — is still being mentioned in connection with Southern Miss’ head coaching vacancy, but it’s likely he’ll return to The Plains next year.

FloridaHead Coach Will Muschamp (2012 will be 2nd season in Gainesville)

Last week, offensive coordinator Charlie Weis made a surprise move to Kansas to become the Jayhawks’ head coach less than a year after arriving at UF.  Former Gator coach Urban Meyer has also hired strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti at Ohio State.

Muschamp is contacting candidates for both spots, but it’s not believed he will hire anyone until after Florida’s January 2nd Gator Bowl appearance against the Buckeyes.

Muschamp has past ties to possible coordinators Al Borges (Michigan), Major Applewhite (Texas) and Greg Davis (formerly of Texas).

GeorgiaHead Coach Mark Richt (2012 will be 12th season in Athens)

Richt and AD Greg McGarity are currently working on an extension for the long-time Bulldog coach.  This after Texas A&M reportedly made a run at Richt.  Despite reports that he spoke with A&M officials, Richt put out a press release Saturday stating that he had not talked to any other schools.

The agent for defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has publicly angled for a multi-year extension for his client, but McGarity has said he’s not sure yet where he stands on multi-year deals for assistants.

KentuckyHead Coach Joker Phillips (2012 will be 3rd season in Lexington)

Despite much heat, Phillips will return for a third season next year.  He will, however, be replacing co-defensive coordinator Steve Brown.  Brown had the “co-” added to his title before last season when Rick Minter was hired and put in charge of the Wildcats’ defense.  On his way out the door, Brown pointed out that he was one of the last coaches from Rich Brooks’ staff to survive on Phillips’ staff.  Now only two remain (Randy Sanders and Chuck Smith).

LSUHead Coach Les Miles (2012 will be 8th season in Baton Rouge)

Running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Frank Wilson has had his name pop up in connection with head coaching jobs at Tulane and Southern Miss, but at this point it’s believed USM will promote from within to replace Larry Fedora.

Mississippi State Head Coach Dan Mullen (2012 will be 4th season in Starkville)

Mullen has been rumored to be a candidate at both Penn State and Texas A&M this offseason.  He reportedly interviewed at State earlier this month, but the school’s search continues.

MissouriHead Coach Gary Pinkel (2012 will be 12th season in Columbia)

Despite a late-season DUI arrest for MU’s head coach, things appear to be quite stable in the Show-Me State.  Get with the program, Mizzou.  You’re in the SEC now.  That means moves and rumored moves every offseason.

Ole MissHead Coach Hugh Freeze (2012 will be 1st season in Oxford)

Despite opportunities to land more proven coaches like Mike Leach and Rich Rodriguez, the Archie Manning-led search committee tabbed Arkansas State’s first-year head coach Freeze as the man to fix what’s been ailing the Rebels since the early ’60s.  Freeze has had a meteoric rise from high school coaching to SEC assistant to coaching to NAIA coaching to Arkansas State and now to Ole Miss.  He has a track record of success, but it’s a pretty short track record.

Freeze is bringing with him a number of assistants from his last stop: Dave Wommack (defensive coordinator), Maurice Harris (tight ends coach, recruiting coordinator), Tom Allen (linebackers coach) and Chris Kiffin (defensive line coach).

Reportedly, Freeze has also spoken to Duke offensive line coach Matt Luke about returning to Oxford where he was once a player and then an assistant.

South CarolinaHead Coach Steve Spurrier (2012 will be 8th season in Columbia)

Assistant coach Jay Graham has left Columbia for his alma mater at Tennessee, which leaves Spurrier in the market for a new running backs coach.

Defensive mastermind Ellis Johnson is reportedly a target of Auburn’s Gene Chizik or the Tigers’ defensive coordinator position, but it’s doubtful he would leave the Palmetto State — where he has a great number of ties — or another assistant’s job.  Johnson has been rumored to be a candidate for the head coaching job at Southern Miss, but as we mentioned above, that job will likely go to an assistant from Fedora’s old staff.

Head Coach Derek Dooley (2012 will be 3rd season in Knoxville)

Shortly after the season, wide receivers coach Charlie Baggett announced his “retirement” from Tennessee, though the school will give him some sort of payoff.  Baggett’s departure coincided with rumors that he’d grown weary of the antics of sophomore wideout Da’Rick Rogers.

With Baggett leaving, Dooley moved quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw to the receivers position.  Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney moved from running backs to quarterbacks, and Graham was hired to fill that slot.

Now Dooley is back in the search mode as former Mike Leach assistant Eric Russell is heading to Washington State to re-team with his old boss.  Russell was in charge of Tennessee’s tight ends and special teams the past two seasons.

Texas A&M Head Coach Kevin Sumlin (2012 will be 1st season in College Station)

Despite late-in-the-game rumors of big-name candidates — Chris Peterson, Dabo Swinney, Richt, etc — the man first rumored to be A&M’s next head coach eventually did land the job.  Houston’s Kevin Sumlin was officially hired over the weekend to replace the recently fired Mike Sherman.

Sumlin is known for his offensive system, but Sherman had the Aggie offense rolling quite well.  Heading into a new conference, we believe Texas A&M would have been wise to simply hold on to Sherman and upgrade at defensive coordinator if a change needed to be made.  That indeed seems to be the approach with Sumlin.

The Aggies are reportedly targeting former Arizona head coach Mike Stoops for their D-coordinator position.  It’s believed Sumlin will line-up a completely new staff in College Station, which will make for an awful lot of change on the field and on the recruiting paths as A&M readies for its first season in the SEC.

VanderbiltHead Coach James Franklin (2012 will be 2nd season in Nashville)

Vandy’s fiery first-year head coach had his name mentioned in connection with openings at North Carolina and Penn State, but he’s instead worked out a contract extension with the Commodores… which happens to be great news for VU.



Spoke too soon. Barry Odom, Pinkel's safeties coach at Mizzou, headed to Memphis as defensive coordinator.


Tennessee should have cut their losses. Firing Dooley and creating instability does no more damage than winning 4 games next year, which is the most Tennessee stands a realistic chance of winning. People are vastly overestimating what firing Dooley would do to the program, since most of his players don't like him anyways, they might respond well to the coaching change. Unfortunatly it's too late now, as all viable coaching options have taken other jobs, and next year I don't believe there will be any attractive options available, with the possible exception of Al Golden. (Forget Kirby Smart, we've had our fill of Saban assistants and none of them pan out anyways) Plus, if he does pull of a miracle and win six games, he's not going to be fired, just prolonging the Tennessee fans agony for another year.


This is quite useful for a Missouri Tiger as we learn about the SEC. Thanks. Pinkel, by the way, is extremely loyal to his staff, a trait that some fans see as a fault. He has lost two coordinators or assistants in 12 years -- one to the NFL and one who became HC at Wyoming. Some argue that his coordinators, in particular, will be overmatched in the SEC. We'll see.

tradeassociation 1 Like

"Sumlin is known for his offensive system, but Sherman had the Aggie offense rolling quite well. Heading into a new conference, we believe Texas A&M would have been wise to simply hold on to Sherman and upgrade at defensive coordinator if a change needed to be made."

Sherman just hired a new defensive coordinator in 2010, Tim DeRuyter. He is highly respected, and is their interim coach through the bowl game. So ... rather than keeping Sherman and hiring their 3rd defensive coordinator in 4 years to try to prop him up, it is better to fire the guy with the 25-25 record, which includes going 0-5 against the SEC (0-3 against Arkansas, 0-2 in bowl games).

The defensive coaching wasn't the whole problem with A&M in their second half meltdowns anyway: the offense contributed more than their fair share. Put it this way: let's say that you're coaching a team that has a guy you moved from WR in the middle of the last season at QB and two excellent future NFL types who were BOTH listed as preseason Heisman candidates at RB. OBVIOUSLY throwing the ball 500 times was the best way to win games, right? Sorry ... Sherman had to go.



Deruyter should be held accountable. Terrible tackling,out of shape and gasping for air against ok. st. Third and long was automatic first downs for opposition.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator 1 Like


The highly respected Tim DeRuyter is being replaced. Our point was this -- the offense put up plenty of points, but the Aggies couldn't hold on to leads in 2011.

Now A&M has fired their coach and replaced him with another offensive guru... who's expected to need a good D-coordinator to go with him. All while entering the SEC.

That seems counterproductive. Especially at this point. And while I've seen the 25-25 thing thrown out everywhere, it should be noted that Mike Sherman went 4-8... then 6-7... then 9-4... before falling to 6-6 with four of those losses coming by 15 points. The idea that A&M couldn't afford to give Sherman a fifth season -- allowing themselves a smooth entry into the SEC -- is laughable.

Kevin Sumlin may be great, but we believe A&M just made their transition more difficult than was necessary.

Thanks for reading,John


@John at MrSEC

I agree with you John but Sherman for being an NFL coach could not make adjustments at halftime. He looked baffled. So he would have been fired next year when we go to NFL/SEC..


@John at MrSEC I agree with you John...on the surface this seems like a knee-jerk move led by a football happy regent. But as an Aggie, I support whoever our head coach is and am excited about Sumlin. The guy seems like a class act and has a good Southern accent (from Alabama) to match. Getting Stoops as DC sounds great. I liked DeRuyter but his schemes, while possibly brilliant, also may have been so complex they lost their efficacy.

But tradeassc., I gotta agree that play calling this year on offense was at times baffling. C-Mike was averaging over 6 yards a carry and we were throwing the ball to the other team instead of protecting our leads. That is how you get fired as an HC.


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