Building the perfect SEC coaching staff for 2021
Players may matter more than coaches, but with this coaching staff, we’d feel pretty good about winning every game this season.
For this exercise, we kept all coaches at their current positions at their respective schools. The ability to name Dan Mullen offensive coordinator and Kirby Smart defensive coordinator would be nice, but it wouldn’t be very realistic.
Having said that, here is the perfect SEC coaching staff for the 2021 season.
Head coach: Nick Saban (Alabama)
The easiest selection to make. There’s no debate here, Nick Saban is the greatest coach in college football history.
Offensive coordinator: Kendal Briles (Arkansas)
This selection may surprise some, but it wasn’t difficult for me to make. Keep in mind, there are 7 new offensive coordinators in the SEC this season, and several head coaches serve as their own play-caller/offensive coordinator.
I gave some consideration to Jeff Lebby, but the offensive system being run at Arkansas is very similar, and Briles doesn’t have Lane Kiffin to lean on. Briles also has a stronger track record of identifying and developing quarterbacks than Lebby, who has only been an OC at the major college level since 2017.
Defensive coordinator: Mike Elko (Texas A&M)
There were several good options to pick from, but I’m going with a coach who I think has built what could be the SEC’s best defense in 2021. This may be the final season Mike Elko is roaming the sidelines in College Station as the defense could be so good that it propels the Aggie assistant to a head coaching position elsewhere in 2022.
Offensive line coach: James Cregg (LSU)
If we were really putting this staff together, Randy Clements (Ole Miss) would make a ton of sense as he is familiar with Briles’ system, but I went with the offensive line coach who has managed to turn arguably LSU’s biggest question mark entering the 2019 season into the Joe Moore Award winners by the end of the team’s title run. LSU is returning its entire starting offensive line and has openly talked about returning the trophy to Baton Rouge in 2021.
Running backs coach: Dell McGee (Georgia)
The run of successful running backs who have come through Athens during McGee’s time at Georgia has been very impressive, and the best may be yet to come. Zamir White and James Cook both decided to return for another season, but the running back garnering the most buzz in spring camp has been Kendall Milton. Considering the talent and the depth of Georgia’s running back room, there’s no better running back coach in the league than McGee.
Tight ends coach: Tim Brewster (Florida)
Brewster has made many stops in his college (and NFL) coaching career, but it doesn’t seem to matter where he is or which players he has, he seems to always produce an elite tight end that goes on to a career in the NFL. His latest pupil, Kyle Pitts, looks to be the best one yet and could prove to be a top 5 selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. Not only is Brewster an elite teacher, but he has also proven to be one of the best recruiters in the country. He may be the most underrated assistant in the country.
Receivers coach: Mickey Joseph (LSU)
With LSU having fully embraced the spread offense under Ed Orgeron, the Tigers’ outstanding collection of receivers has stood out as some of the best in the country. Mickey Joseph is the man responsible for recruiting and developing that talent. When you’ve coached Ja’Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson, Terrace Marshall, DJ Chark, Russell Gage and Kayshon Boutte, you deserve to be on this list.
Defensive line coach: Rodney Garner (Tennessee)
Defensive lines are another position that has seen a ton of turnover this offseason (there were 8 defensive line hires made in the SEC) and while Rodney Garner is technically one of them — he was previously coaching at Auburn — there may not be a more veteran SEC assistant in the conference this season. It’s not just experience and wisdom that gets Garner on this list; he’s still getting the job done at an elite level after recently sending multiple draft picks to the NFL and continually recruiting at a high level. 247Sports credits Garner for being a primary or secondary recruiter for 64 prospects rated as a 5-star or 4-star.
Linebackers coach: Glenn Schumann (Georgia)
When Kirby Smart moved from coordinator at Alabama to head coach at Georgia, he made sure to bring along Glenn Schumann. Schumann may not have been a big-name at that time, but Smart must have seen something special in the young coach. Now Georgia’s inside linebackers coach, he has helped develop some of the best defenders in the SEC, such as Roquan Smith, Monty Rice, Nakobe Dean and Tae Crowder (a former running back who left Athens after being named a semifinalist for the Butkus Award). Schumann has done so well for Georgia, Smart named him co-defensive coordinator in 2019.
Defensive backs coach: Corey Raymond (LSU)
How can you go wrong with the defensive back coach that leads DBU? During Corey Raymond’s time in Baton Rouge, he’s coached 7 first-team All-Americans and 9 NFL Draft picks, including 3 first-rounders. Derek Stingley Jr. and Elias Ricks look to add to that list in the years to come.
Special teams coordinator: Justin Lustig (Vanderbilt)
Vanderbilt’s special teams unit has been a disaster in recent seasons, and Clark Lea really needed to ace this hire to push the Commodores in the right direction. The first-year Vanderbilt coach appears to have done just that in Justin Lustig, who was nominated for the Broyles Award at Syracuse, coached the 2018 Lou Groza Award winner Andre Szmyt and helped lead Syracuse’s punting unit to the best net punting in the ACC in 3 seasons and top-10 finishes in 2019 and 2017.