With the Tennessee Volunteers and Auburn Tigers struggling immensely this season, it's no surprise to see head coaches Derek Dooley and Gene Chizik on the hot seat.
Dooley's record at Tennessee worsens to 15-20 and 4-18 in conference play. Chizik, on the other hand, entered this week at 2-7. That said, Tennessee is the more attractive head coaching position for someone new.
The Volunteers have a richer tradition throughout history, despite Auburn being arguably the better program since the beginning of the 21st century. Tennessee, though, has been a small coaching carousel since Phillip Fulmer's last season, but that's also courtesy of Lane Kiffin.
SEC Divisional Supremacy
Although the Florida Gators, Georgia Bulldogs and South Carolina Gamecocks are tough opponents in the SEC East, the SEC West is currently the stronger division.
Solely because of the Alabama Crimson Tide and LSU Tigers, this duo has accounted for three of the last five outright SEC champions. Auburn's 2010 season that resulted in a BCS National Title gives the West four conference titles since 2007.
In short, the East is a slightly less difficult division to make a run at the SEC Championship Game.
We also have to factor in the newbies: the Missouri Tigers and Texas A&M Aggies. Texas A&M is making the West a much rougher division, whereas Mizzou is lucky to be .500 overall and 2-5 in the East.
Since winning a national championship, Auburn is only 4-10 in conference play (before kickoff versus Georgia this week) and two of those wins have come from the East (also during the 2011 season). So if Auburn does open up, it would be hard-pressed for a new coach to see immediate success even within the division.
Potential Shoes to Fill
By a direct comparison, filling the shoes of Gene Chizik is much bigger than those of Derek Dooley. When taking over Auburn in 2009, Chizik went 8-5 and logged victories over Tennessee, Ole Miss and then Northwestern in the Outback Bowl.
Factor in a national title in 2010 with a perfect season—much thanks to Cam Newton—and Chizik's record improved to 22-5 (2-0 in bowl games). Although 2011 was a down year, Auburn still finished 8-5 and got key wins over Mississippi State, South Carolina and Virginia in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
As for Dooley, no winning seasons and loss to North Carolina in the 2010 Music City Bowl. That's it. Even worse, Dooley was only 17-20 while at Louisiana Tech of the WAC before joining the Vols.
The pressure to immediately win just won't be as emphatic at Tennessee because Dooley's lack of success has to lower expectations. Not to mention the guy dealt with all kinds of pressure courtesy of Vince Dooley being a legend.
If you're a coach, which potential job is more appealing?
The Offenses and Defenses
The Volunteers present a stronger passing attack in Tyler Bray, who has 25 touchdowns to just 10 picks entering this weekend. Obviously Bray not leaving early for the NFL is another story, but he's certainly more appealing than Kiehl Frazier or anyone of Auburn.
Add in receiver Justin Hunter, despite his talent level capable of leaving early for the draft, and Tennessee's offense provides to important elements for a new coach. Auburn, unfortunately, doesn't offer that with Emory Blake and Onterio McCalebb being seniors.
Defensively, each school needs to rebuild. Auburn ranks No. 85 in total defense and Tennessee is No. 112 prior to this week. Both are more consistent against the pass; however, neither are reliable versus the run: Tennessee is No. 90 and Auburn ranks No. 96 through nine games.
Combine all the elements and it's a wash defensively, but the Volunteers simply offer more offensively—provided that at least Bray comes back. Include the difference in SEC divisions and the coaches and Tennessee is more appealing.
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