Twenty-five new coaches make their way into the SEC; all total, there were 27 coaching changes in the SEC. You can see every one of them here.
Here are the SEC’s best five assistant coaching hires for 2014:
1. Jeremy Pruitt, defensive coordinator/secondary, Georgia (FSU)
The Skinny: Jeremy Pruitt comes from a championship pedigree. Defenses he’s coached have won three straight national championships: two at Alabama and last year at FSU. The Noles led the country in scoring defense (12.1 ppg), and any time Mark Richt is energized for spring practice, you know Pruitt is having an effect. Could he be the one hire that helps Georgia finally live up to expectations?
2. Lane Kiffin, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks, Alabama (Unemployed)
The Skinny: Several have chided Nick Saban for hiring Lane Kiffin, but the fact is that everything Kiffin is bad at won’t be a problem. He’s not a head coach, and he’s shielded from the media to concentrate solely on the Tide’s offense. He’s a proven coordinator; he’s a proven recruiter. Kiffin venturing back into the SEC will be a major storyline headed into the 2014 season. How much will Saban let Kiffin change his offense?
3. Kurt Roper, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks, Florida (Duke)
The Skinny: Kurt Roper returns to the SEC where he coached at Tennessee and Ole Miss during prior stints. The David Cutcliffe disciple is all in on Will Muschamp and Florida, with Muschamp sitting squarely on the hot seat. He becomes Muschamp’s third coordinator in four seasons, and this is one of the most important seasons in Florida history. No pressure, Kurt. Roper was hired after coming off a record-setting Duke season that saw 54 touchdowns. Can Roper lead Florida to score 28 to 30 points per game, up from 18.8 in 2013?
4. Robb Smith, defensive coordinator/secondary, Arkansas (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
The Skinny: Did Arkansas just upgrade their defensive leadership? When Chris Ash bolted to Ohio State, many thought Bret Bielema would promote Randy Shannon, but Robb Smith was the guy Bielema targeted all along. He was the linebackers coach with the Bucs last year, after being Rutgers defensive coordinator in 2012. Can Smith totally transform one of the worst statistical defenses in the league?
5. Jeff Grimes, offensive line coach/running game coordinator, LSU (Virginia Tech)
The Skinny: LSU made one of the best hires in Jeff Grimes, who was formally Auburn’s offensive line coach under Gene Chizik. When Chizik was fired, Grimes was hired at Virginia Tech, until LSU came calling. Grimes returns four starters along the Tigers’ line, as well as a dominant running game. Twelve of his former pupils have played in the NFL, and he brings a development mentality to LSU.
Photo Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports