5 SEC Coaches Under Pressure: Who Has to Win Early in Non-Conference Play?
Coaching in the SEC is unlike coaching in any other conference. The fans, students, alumni and administration of each SEC school starve for the SEC championship and the national championship every year. Saturdays are pressure packed for each coach in the prestigious conference.
Just one average season or big loss can get you fired in the SEC. Just ask Mike Shula or Tommy Tuberville. Every year we see at least one coach get axed or resign from their position at the end of the year.
SEC coaches on the hot seat must be prepared in non-conference games. Losing a big opening game can get the whole fanbase down and put the coach closer to the edge.
Who's under the most pressure to win their big non-conference game in 2011? Would a huge loss get them fired? Here is a look at the coaches under the most pressure in non-conference play.
Mark Richt: Georgia vs. Boise State
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Mark Richt, the longest tenured coach in the SEC is going to be under the most pressure this season. Richt has delivered two SEC titles and has finished in the top 10 numerous times, but hasn't had much success in recent years. He also has never won the national championship. Would a Boise State loss this weekend be the last straw for Richt? Would a big win keep him safe?
Prediction: Georgia wins 34-28, coach Richt has a 10-3 season and stays.
Les Miles: LSU vs. Oregon
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We all know the shenanigans that Les Miles and his squad are known for. But, coach Miles is not silly about winning. He has compiled a 62-17 record at LSU. That is a little more than 10 wins per season on average. He's also won a national championship. But, there always seems to be a mirage of issues going on down in the bayou. A couple seasons ago, it was the mad hatter's clock management skills that got him in some hot water. This year it's his players acting up. Would LSU consider firing Les Miles if he has an off-year this season? Would a huge loss to Oregon heat up the water?
Prediction: Oregon wins 24-13. Coach Miles has a 8-5 season but keeps his job.
Houston Nutt: BYU at Ole Miss
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Houston Nutt was considered the savior of Ole Miss football after two great 9-4 seasons in a row. But, after posting a 1-7 SEC record and 4-8 overall record last season, coach Nutt is under the microscope in Oxford. Will Houston Nutt be able to endure through another one-win SEC season? Will a win against BYU help his cause?
Prediction: BYU wins 24-21. Coach Nutt is fired after a 5-7 season.
Derek Dooley: Cincinnati at Tennessee
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Derek Dooley's performance so far at Tennessee reminds me of the job Mike Shula did at Alabama. He has done a great job rallying his young players after the whole Lane Kiffin mess. Only in his second year, Dooley's job is relatively safe. A loss to Cincinnati would be an ugly loss for the Volunteers, but how much that would affect Dooley's standing is unclear.
Prediction: Tennessee wins 31-17. Coach Dooley finishes with a 7-6 record and Tennessee keeps him.
Nick Saban: Alabama at Penn State
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Nick Saban's job is about as safe as it can be. But, the big matchup against Penn State has major BCS title implications. If Alabama loses, Saban and his team will have to fight all year to get back up to No. 1. If Alabama wins, they could be ranked No. 1 the following week assuming Oklahoma falls to Florida State.
Prediction: Alabama wins 24-7. Coach Saban finishes with a 13-1 record and a national championship.