Which SEC school made the best hire this offseason?
The SEC is college football’s toughest conference and only got better with the addition of new coaches Gus Malzahn, Bret Bielema, Butch Jones and Mark Stoops. All four schools (Auburn, Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky) made solid hires, which should help each program get back to winning records and bowl games over the next few years.
Ranking the new hires is no easy task, but with the SEC’s head coaching carousel likely finished for 2013, it’s time to take a look at how the new coaches stack up in the conference for next year.
Kentucky has picked Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops as its new head coach.
Kentucky was the first BCS program to make a coaching change this year, and the Wildcats are the first team to hire a replacement. Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops landed his first head coaching gig, as he was hired as the replacement for Joker Phillips in Lexington.
With Tennessee and Kentucky both having lame-duck coaches on the sidelines, there was very little excitement for Saturday's game. The Volunteers pulled away for a 37-17 victory, but the highlight of the day didn't come between the two teams or a play on the field.
Instead, it was Smokey - Tennessee's mascot - that stole the show. Smokey broke loose from his handler, which caused him to go after a Kentucky kicker.
Needless to say, it was an entertaining moment between two teams staying home for the postseason.
There isn’t a ton of drama remaining in the regular season. Assuming Alabama beats Auburn — and Nick Saban’s team is favored by over four touchdowns — the SEC Championship Game is set: Georgia vs. Bama. Two teams are fighting for bowl-eligibility; Ole Miss must defeat Mississippi State and Missouri needs a win at Texas A&M to reach the six-win mark.
Dores rout Tennessee; Bama, Georgia back in play for national title
There were no changes in the power rankings, but it was still a huge weekend for the SEC. Thanks to losses by both Kansas State and Oregon, the winner of the SEC title game between Alabama and Georgia will be in position to play for the national championship. Also of note, Vanderbilt beat Tennessee in Nashville for the first time in 30 years.
All 14 SEC teams are in action this weekend, but there are only three games involving two league teams. And all three feature at least one team that needs to win to keep its bowl hopes alive. Tennessee is 4–6 and needs to beat Vanderbilt this week and Kentucky next week to get to the six-win mark. Arkansas, also 4–6, has a tougher road.
There was a huge upset in the SEC over the weekend, but not a lot changes in our power rankings. Alabama held on to its No. 1 spot — even after losing at home to Texas A&M — due to its body of work throughout the 2012 season. Vanderbilt and Ole Miss switched spots after the Commodores beat the Rebels in Oxford, and Missouri jumped Tennessee following its four OT win in Knoxville.
Johnny Manziel & the Aggies take on the Tide in Tuscaloosa
Georgia can secure its second straight SEC East title with a win at Auburn. If the Bulldogs stumble, Florida, which has already concluded its SEC season (7–1), would make the trip to Atlanta. Alabama can wrap up the West with a victory at home against Texas A&M.
Joker Phillips was fired after a 1-9 start in 2012.
The first major domino in college football's coaching carousel fell on Sunday, as Kentucky's Joker Phillips was fired after a 12-23 mark through three seasons. Phillips led the Wildcats to a bowl game in his first year, but the team never showed major progress in his tenure. Athletic director Mitch Barnhart has a difficult coaching search to lead, especially with the pressure to get it right.