SEC Football: Power Ranking Every Coach by Job Security
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It's not easy to be successful as a head coach in the SEC, which is why the job security of the men running the teams in college football's best conference is always a hot topic.
Gene Chizik was fired from Auburn just two seasons after winning the national championship because the Tigers couldn't compete.
However, guys like Nick Saban at Alabama and Les Miles at LSU will likely go down as some of the greatest coaches in the sport's history, and their jobs will be safe for as long as they want to be there.
With the start of college football just 80 days away, here's the ranking of each SEC coach's job security heading into 2013.
14. Gary Pinkel, Missouri
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There's no arguing that Gary Pinkel is a legend for the Missouri Tigers. He's amassed a 90-61 record in Columbia and has won four bowl games.
But it's a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world in college football, and lately Pinkel hasn't been that good.
In the team's first season in the SEC in 2012, the Tigers went just 5-7 overall and 2-6 in SEC play. What was more disconcerting was that the Tigers looked simply outmatched against nearly every SEC opponent, getting beat by 20 or more points four times.
In 2011, the Tigers weren't much better. They finished 8-5 overall in their final year in the Big 12 and finished fifth in the conference.
Pinkel's off-the-field behavior is not something he can fall back on either.
In November of 2011, Pinkel was arrested on and later plead guilty to charges of driving while intoxicated. The Tigers' athletic department came down harshly on the coach, freezing his salary for a year and losing his bowl bonus.
Pinkel also suffered a very public divorce where it was revealed that he would pay his ex-wife $276,000 a year so long as he is the head coach of the Tigers.
Well, that massive six-figure payment to his ex-wife may not be an issue much longer for Pinkel. If Missouri doesn't put up a better fight in the SEC in 2013, Pinkel could get the hook.
13. Butch Jones, Tennessee
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Butch Jones, the replacement for ousted head coach Derek Dooley, has yet to coach a game for the Tennessee Volunteers. But the leash he'll be on won't be long in Knoxville.
The Volunteers haven't been good as of late, going 5-7 with an atrocious 1-7 mark in the SEC in both 2011 and 2012.
Jones comes into the program with an impressive record, turning around a Cincinnati Bearcats team that went just 4-8 in 2010 to nine and 10 wins in 2011 and 2012, respectively.
However, the Volunteers haven't had a winning season since Lane Kiffin had his one-year affair with the team. And Tennessee probably stuck with Dooley a year too long.
So while Jones hasn't necessarily done anything to earn the short leash, the SEC has proved it has a low tolerance for failure with its head coaches. If he doesn't get the job done soon, the Volunteers will find someone else.
12. Gus Malzahn, Auburn
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It's not too often a coach that wins a national title is fired two years later.
Well, that's what happened to Gene Chizik with the Auburn Tigers. Now the 2010 BCS national champions have pegged Gus Malzahn to clean up the mess that the 3-9 season in 2012 left.
There are opposing forces that could negatively affect Malzahn's job security with the Tigers.
Because the team won the national title just a few years ago, fans and the athletic department will want to see that kind of success—and soon.
However, most head coaches that come in to a program that won just three games the previous season and went 0-fer in its conference is usually given more time and flexibility to build the team up.
Instead, Malzahn is going to be asked to be successful immediately in a conference and a state dominated by the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Auburn has already proven it has a short memory with its head coaches. If Malzahn can't get it done in 2013 and take the Tigers to a bowl, he could be ousted pretty quickly.
11. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
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Dan Mullen hasn't been incredibly unsuccessful as the head coach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs, but none of his teams have stuck out as big-time contenders either.
Since taking over the program in 2009, the Bulldogs have never won less than five or more than nine games. The Bulldogs have also never had a winning record in SEC play under Mullen.
2012 was another modest year for the Bulldogs. They went 8-5 overall, 4-4 in the SEC and lost in the Gator Bowl.
What may have been Mullen's biggest undoing as of late is something that wasn't even at his school. Ole Miss, the Bulldogs' in-state rival, brought in the nation's fifth-best recruiting class this season, according to ESPN. However, Mississippi State laid claim to just the 25th-best class.
If Mullen is getting that badly outworked on the recruiting trail in his own state, it will be even harder for him to hit the rest of SEC territory to build a contender.
So the Bulldogs may look elsewhere soon to find a coach that will take the team to the next level.
10. Mark Stoops, Kentucky
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The Stoops coaching family tree grew larger with the arrival of Mark Stoops as the new head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats.
The Wildcats went just 2-10 last season, so the basketball-centric fans in Lexington were yearning for a change of scenery on the gridiron.
Well, Stoops may very well be the answer for Kentucky. The Wildcats are currently ranked 23rd in ESPN's 2014 recruiting class rankings, which means Stoops has already hit the road hard looking for talent.
Slowly but surely it appears that Stoops may be working some magic in Lexington. But he has yet to face his biggest test yet, an actual game.
If his first two years go particularly bad, he could be yanked from the sidelines.
9. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss
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2012 was the first season that Hugh Freeze was the head guy at Ole Miss, and he brought the Rebels to a bowl for the first time since 2009.
Then, he went out and recruited the fifth-best 2013 class in the country, according to ESPN.
It appears that Freeze is turning things around for the Rebels.
However, Freeze only has four years of college football head coaching under his belt, with the first two being at Lambuth, an NAIA school.
So he's had a quick ascension up the coaching ranks, and as the old saying goes, "They'll fall as quick as they rise."
So far, there are no signs that Freeze is going downward. But if his Rebels don't start winning in a big way with the type of talent that he's brought in, then Freeze's seat may get hot.
8. Bret Bielema, Arkansas
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The Arkansas Razorbacks landed a big fish with the hiring of Bret Bielema, the formerly revered coach of the Wisconsin Badgers.
At Wisconsin, Bielema took the Badgers to three straight Rose Bowls and went 68-24. He also won three Big Ten titles.
Now though, he'll be asked to replicate that type of success at Arkansas, a team that's one year removed from a 4-8 season, but just two years removed from a win in the Cotton Bowl over Kansas State.
The Bobby Petrino scandal that cost the former coach his job followed by the subpar year delivered by John L. Smith after being ranked in the Top 10 nationally is a mess that Bielema must now clean up.
Expectations will be high going in, and the SEC is tough to win in. But Bielema is a great coach. If anybody can get the Razorbacks back on track, it's him.
7. James Franklin, Vanderbilt
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While James Franklin is not the biggest name in coaching, and the Vanderbilt Commodores are usually not at the forefront of the SEC landscape, there is quite a buzz building up in Nashville, Tennessee.
Franklin took over the program two seasons ago. After going 6-7 in 2011, Franklin took the Commodores to almost new heights in 2012. Last season, the team went 9-4 overall, won five games in the SEC and won the Music City Bowl.
And for the first time since 1948, Vanderbilt finished the season ranked, as the Coaches and AP Poll had the Commodores ranked at 20th and 23rd respectively when the season closed.
Now, the Commodores have become one of the more dangerous teams in the SEC.
Franklin will get one his toughest tests yet to start the 2013 season as Vanderbilt is set to square off against SEC foe Ole Miss, a team that's very much on the rise under head coach Hugh Freeze.
If Franklin can get the season started right in 2013, you could see the Commodores reach new heights yet again. However, a tumultuous start could unravel the work that Franklin has done so far.
6. Mark Richt, Georgia
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The longest-tenured coach in the SEC right now, Mark Richt has maintained a powerhouse at Georgia.
In his 12 seasons at the helm of the Bulldogs, Richt has made a bowl game all 12 years, has compiled a 118-40 overall record, won two SEC titles and made three Sugar Bowls.
2012 was simply business as usual for Georgia, as the Bulldogs went 12-2 overall and won the Capital One Bowl.
Richt signed a contract extension during the 2012 offseason that will keep him at Georgia until 2016.
5. Will Muschamp, Florida
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When Urban Meyer bolted the Florida Gators after the 2010 season, the Gators brought in Will Muschamp, the former Texas Longhorns' "coach in waiting" to replace him.
Muschamp hasn't skipped a beat since taking the job in Gainesville, and in 2012, the Gators appeared in the Sugar Bowl.
While the Gators were upset by the Louisville Cardinals in the game, it was still a great season for the Gators, and it proved that Muschamp, who didn't have any prior head coaching experience, can hang with the big boys in the SEC.
The job at Florida is certainly Muschamp's to lose, but it looks like he'll be the head guy there for a while.
4. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina
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Steve Spurrier is a 20-year veteran in the SEC coaching ranks, and recently he's brought the South Carolina Gamecocks to a high level of success.
In the past two years, the Gamecocks have gone 11-2 overall and 6-2 in the SEC. In 2011, Spurrier won the Capital One Bowl. Then last season, he won the Outback Bowl.
Also in 2011 and 2012, the Gamecocks finished ranked in the Top 10 in both the AP and Coaches Polls. Finishing in the Top 10 in 2011 was the first time the school had done so in the program's history.
The old ball coach is simply one of the best coaches in the country, and he'll be welcome at South Carolina for as long as he pleases.
3. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
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One of the hottest names in the college football coaching ranks, Texas A&M Kevin Sumlin has quickly become of the best coaches in the SEC.
In just his first season as the Aggies head coach, Sumlin brought Texas A&M to an 11-2 overall record, a second-place finish in the SEC West and a win over Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl.
He also coached the first ever freshman to win the Heisman Trophy in Johnny Manziel.
Before joining Texas A&M and the SEC, Sumlin was the coach at Houston for four years. There, he went 35-17 and in the 2011 season, was one loss away from a perfect season.
After his successful first season with the Aggies, the school granted Sumlin with a contract extension that will keep him there until 2017.
Expectations are high in College Station for Sumlin's 2013 squad. If he delivers, he'll either get another massive contract extension, or he could be in line for even more lucrative and desirable job.
2. Les Miles, LSU
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Les Miles is certainly one of the most interesting characters in college football. But he's also one of the best coaches to ever walk the sidelines in the SEC.
Since taking over at LSU in 2005, the Tigers have gone 85-21, been to three BCS bowls including two national title games and won the BCS national title in 2007.
2012 was another dominant year for the Tigers as they went 10-3 overall and 6-2 in the SEC.
It was announced in February that Miles received a contract extension from 2017 to 2019 as well as a pay raise.
LSU is one of the biggest powerhouses in college football today, so Les Miles should be there to stay.
1. Nick Saban, Alabama
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The head coach of the dynasty in college football that is the Alabama Crimson Tide doesn't have to worry about his job security even in the slightest.
Nick Saban has won three of the last four BCS national titles, and he'll be chasing his third consecutive at Alabama in 2013.
Since taking over the Crimson Tide in 2007, Alabama has gone 68-13 and only lost nine SEC games.
Not only has Alabama been so dominant recently, but it's been that way in the toughest conference in the country. And that's largely in part to Saban's leadership.
Saban will likely go down as one of the greatest college coaches of all time. Until then, his job will forever be safe at Alabama.