Published August 4, 2011 - 2:09pm
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Welcome to the preseason edition of the SEC coaches’ stock watch. I will update the stock watch midway through the season and at the end of the season.
The list will change throughout this season, depending on how their teams perform on the field.
Bobby Petrino, Arkansas – The Razorbacks have brought winning back to Fayetteville, thanks to Bobby Petrino. Petrino’s offense was dynamite this past season, and even though they lost the Sugar Bowl outright, the Hogs return a great team with a ton of playmakers. I’m buying this stock right now because I think the Razorbacks will surprise a ton of people this year.
Les Miles, LSU – Miles’ stock is on the rise because he did not take the Michigan job, and because he made a change at offensive coordinator, pushing Gary Crowton out and brining in Steve Kragthorpe. I have always liked Miles, but he has frustrated LSU fans with his lackadaisical attitude and the way he is so ballsy with the game on the line. I’m not sure where LSU will finish this year in the West, but I know they will always have a chance to win a ball game in an aggressive manner with Miles at the helm.
Dan Mullen, Mississippi State – Dan Mullen is a Mississippi man, and I believe he could run for governor of that great state right now and win it. Mullen has brought a winning history and foundation to this State team. He has a good offense this year in Starkville, and I think his future is very bright. How long will he stay at the helm of the Bulldogs’ program? It will be hard for him to consistently win in the SEC West at State, but will he stick around to see if it can be done? I’m buying Dan Mullen’s stock right now because I think his team will prove something this year – much like last year.
Steve Spurrier, South Carolina – It’s hard to believe that Spurrier’s stock is on the rise, but he has turned around another program, this time in Columbia. He has a cupboard stacked full of talent, and it’s getting even more talented all the time with the recruits who want to play for USC. Spurrier has a good shot to win the SEC this season, certainly the Eastern half anyway. He has arguably the best running back, best wide receiver and a veteran quarterback who, at times, can be very good. The thing that sets this USC team apart from the previous teams – he finally has a defense to complement the offense.
Nick Saban, Alabama – Nick Saban looks to have his team ready for an SEC Championship run this season. However, most picked this team to win it last year, and they vastly underperformed with the amount of talent they had on campus. Alabama only won nine games during the regular season last year, and the Tide lost the Iron Bowl in collapsing fashion. However, Saban did kill Michigan State, and the outlook for this season is very high. He is the best coach right now.
Gene Chizik, Auburn – Gene Chizik was booed for being hired as the Auburn head football coach a couple years ago. He had a below-average team his first year at Auburn, and they finished with an 8-5 record. While some have picked Auburn to finish fourth in the West, including myself, we could be in for a surprise because we know his offense will score points. The defense is what I’m most worried about. I’m going to sit tight on Chizik right now because no one has a clue about how good or bad Auburn will be this year and just let it all play out.
Will Muschamp, Florida – For me, there is not enough of a sample size for Will Muschamp in order for me to think he will have a great season at Florida. The talent level on offense is somewhat decimated under the previous regime. Don’t get me wrong, I think Muschamp was a great defensive coordinator, and he should eventually do well at Florida. I’m looking forward to seeing what he brings to the table.
Joker Phillips, Kentucky – Joker Phillips led Kentucky to their fifth straight bowl appearance in 2010, and he looks to be a formidable leader for the Wildcats. I think he can win there once he gets his talent in Lexington. I do know this team was decimated with the exit of key playmakers on offense last year, but Phillips has a strong offensive line he can lean on this year. I will wait and see on this one.
Derek Dooley, Tennessee – Some would argue the sample size for Dooley is simply not big enough to judge him yet. I do think Dooley is a good guy and a good football coach, but can he win? He finished under .500 in his first year in Knoxville. He lost to both UNC and LSU by three points or less. Can Dooley win the close games this year, or will barely losing be his mantra? Dooley is cleaning up the program and recruiting well right now. Let’s judge him after this season.
James Franklin, Vanderbilt – James Franklin has inherited a mess at Vanderbilt from the previous regime. He has made a splash at Vanderbilt with getting some top-rated in-state talent to commit to the ‘Dores already. Now, will Franklin’s permanent home be in Nashville? Probably not. This will be the toughest job he ever has, though. If he can win at Vanderbilt, he can win anywhere. I like his passion and enthusiasm, and he could be the one to change some culture at Vanderbilt.
Mark Richt, Georgia – Mark Richt is sitting firmly on the hot seat, and until he proves to me (and the rest of the SEC) that he can still push his team to have some passion and be exciting on the football field, I’m not buying any of Richt’s stock. He’s a great guy, but his teams, albeit talented teams, have vastly underwhelmed the last several years. There is no excuse why Georgia is not at least mentioned in the same sentence as National Championships every three to five years.
Houston Nutt, Ole Miss – Houston Dale Nutt has found it hard to win in Oxford. He inherited a good team with Dexter McCluster and Jevan Snead when he took over in 2008 and 2009; however, since then, his teams’ have struggled to find a rhythm. This year could be no different. He has a very young team, but his offensive line is full of veterans, and he has a top running back in the SEC with Brandon Bolden. I’m sitting tight on some Nutt stock right now.