The SEC football coaching fraternity has certainly seen its fair share of turnover over the past two season. Since 2019, the conference has seen eight new head coaches enter the league.
While none of the four new coaches have Power 5 experience at the highest level, there are high expectations for early success in places like Tennessee and Auburn.
- Nick Saban (Alabama). Who else? Saban is coming off his sixth championship season in Tuscaloosa and will be at the top of this list until he is no longer at the helm at Alabama.
- Kirby Smart (Georgia). We’ve admired Smart’s recruiting prowess for five years now but it’s time to take things to the next level. Currently, Smart is trending closer to Mark Richt than Nick Saban but hope certainly remains.
- Jimbo Fisher (Texas A&M). The arrow is pointing up here in a major way. Fisher led the Aggies to their highest final ranking since 1939. He has a national championship pedigree and has his program ready to compete with Alabama.
- Ed Orgeron (LSU). The shine may have worn off that 2020 national title trophy just a bit during a wacky 5-5 campaign last season. Key injuries, hurricanes and COVID did the Tigers dirty but expect a major rebound in 2021.
- Dan Mullen (Florida). Gator fans will want to forget the final two games last season, specifically the no-show against OU in the Cotton Bowl. The truth is Mullen has recruited speed in droves at the skilled positions and it should come down to Florida and Georgia once again in the east.
- Bryan Harsin (Auburn). Call this one a hunch but Harsin is going to be a great fit at Auburn. There is a solid nucleus already on board on the plains and his success at Boise State is undeniable.
- Marks Stoops (Kentucky). Hard to believe that Stoops is the second-longest tenured coach in the conference at this point. He’s old reliable. For Kentucky, is there a giant ceiling here? No, but sometimes the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.
- Eli Drinkwitz (Missouri). We saw Missouri exceed expectations last season and Drinkwitz has backed it up with nearly unprecedented recruiting success. This could be THE dark horse program moving forward in the east.
- Sam Pittman (Arkansas). A massive climb for Pittman (he began last year 14th). The expectations were low in Fayetteville but he managed to win three games at a school that hadn’t had a conference win since 2017. Perhaps Pittman is just the guy to steady the ship for this program.
- Lane Kiffin (Ole Miss). The Lane Train is off and running and the results have been acceptable. His offense was outstanding a year ago and quarterback Matt Corral might be the SEC’s best quarterback heading into next season.
- Mike Leach (Miss. State). It’s going to be interesting to see if Leach’s style can win consistently in the SEC. After starting off with an upset win over LSU last season, things fell apart for the Bulldogs as they finished just 2-7.
- Josh Heupel (Tennessee). It’s been a revolving door of mediocrity for the past decade-plus for the once proud Vols. Heupel was able to keep things afloat at UCF after Scott Frost’s departure and he had reasonable success as Mizzou’s offensive coordinator prior. How quickly will the natives become restless if this is Derek Dooley 2.0?
- Shane Beamer (South Carolina). Beamer certainly has the coaching bloodline on his side as well as successful stops at Georgia and Oklahoma.
- Clark Lea (Vanderbilt). This was a good hire for Vanderbilt. Lea played at Vandy and was a very successful defensive coordinator at Notre Dame. The truth is, as we’ve seen, you have to overcome so many obstacles to win consistently at Vanderbilt.