Coaching in the SEC is a fickle business. With few exceptions, every coach is a divisive figure, his moves questioned by parts of the fan base and lauded by others. Every coach has a myriad of responsibilities on and off the field, serving as the commander in chief of their respective programs.

How are the West’s coaches viewed by the public?

Nick Saban, Alabama

Approval rating: 100 percent

There probably isn’t even an Auburn fan in the state of Alabama that could reasonably say something negative about the job Saban has done at Alabama. Sure, the Crimson Tide has lost its last two bowl games, but does that come anywhere close to outweighing all the good Saban has done in Tuscaloosa? We think not.

Saban isn’t without his flaws as a coach — for instance, the Tide still struggle with containing running quarterbacks — but he’s proven adaptable, hiring Lane Kiffin and allowing the offense to speed up and take to the air. With three SEC titles, three national championships, a dominant recruiting record, a bronze statue on campus and the restoration Alabama to greatness on his resume, Saban is as iron-clad as they come in college football.

Bret Bielema, Arkansas

Approval rating: 75 percent

Arkansas brought Bielema on at a low point after the ugly ending to the Bobby Petrino era and the bottoming out under John L. Smith that followed. It took Bielema nearly two full years, but he has the Razorbacks back on the track to being a contending team in the West.

Winning three of four to end the season, Bielema has Arkansas looking like a dark-horse candidate for 2015, or at the very least a team that can wreck seasons. He’s built a strong identity in Fayetteville, crafting a powerful team in the image of what he had at Wisconsin. Even better, Bielema clearly is passionate about his program, dropping a “Woo Pig” in just about every conversation he has with the media.

Gus Malzahn, Auburn

Approval rating: 80 percent

Coming off a national championship game appearance and SEC title in his first season, Malzahn gets a bit of a pass for a disappointing 2014. He gets a serious boost for reeling in Will Muschamp to run a defense that fell off majorly this past season and for bringing in his highest-rated recruiting class in his three cycles with the Tigers.

While no one seems to have really figured out Auburn’s offense under Malzahn quite yet, he’ll have a different challenge this year with Jeremy Johnson, more of a pro-style passer, under center. Will he be able to keep his potent rushing offense humming with a trio of fresh faces in the backfield? If he doesn’t, patience may start to wane; remember that Gene Chizik only coached two more seasons at Auburn after winning his title.

Les Miles, LSU

Approval rating: 65 percent

Armed with the most creative lexicon in the SEC, Miles’ perception in Baton Rouge is as muddled as some of his phrasing. The Mad Hatter won a national title in 2007 and has kept the Tigers competing at the top of the SEC in just about every season of his tenure.

Still, there are those that don’t like Miles’ style. His reliance on the run, his stubbornness, his inability to find an answer at quarterback. It’s not at all a stretch that, despite his 100-plus wins in 10 years, Miles is the most under-appreciated coach in the nation, perhaps because he’s coaching against the ghost of Saban at LSU. It’s possible that his naysayers are simply far more vocal than his many supporters, but there is certainly a contingent that wouldn’t be upset if LSU allowed Miles to walk.

Dan Mullen, Mississippi State

Approval rating: 85 percent

Losing three of four to end the year was a downer, but Mullen still brought Mississippi State to the greatest regular season in school history and the school’s first No. 1 ranking. Along the way, he garnered interest from major programs and whole-heartedly dismissed them publicly, calling his position with the Bulldogs the most desirable in college football. That’s not something the folks in Starkville are used to hearing about their football program.

Mullen also helped keep Dak Prescott in Starkville for another year, ensuring the Bulldogs will be at least dangerous in 2015. He also brought in the highest-rated recruiting class of his tenure, snatching top linebacker prospect Leo Lewis away from rival Ole Miss in the process. Mullen has come a long way since being on the hot seat not so long ago.

Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss

Approval rating: 80 percent

Like his rival at Mississippi State, Freeze has elevated Ole Miss back into national relevance, although on a much quicker timeline. Freeze has a reputation as one of the top recruiters in the country, buoyed by the 2013 class that included the top prospect in the nation. Freeze also blew off suitors from other major programs, instead inking an extension in Oxford.

Now that the only starting quarterback of the Freeze era, Bo Wallace, has graduated, the coach has decided to roll the dice. His decision to bring in Chad Kelly could end up keeping the Rebels’ trending up, or it could blow up in his face should the quarterback run into any more trouble. Freeze has already accepted that responsibility, and his public perception could swing either way depending on how the situation plays out.

Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M

Approval rating: 60 percent

Heading into his fourth year at Texas A&M, it’s all on Sumlin now. Gone are the all of the previous regime’s recruits, and Sumlin’s recent top-10 classes are now at the forefront. In 2014, the offense had the built-in excuse of inexperience and an awful defense. Now, both of those excuses should be gone.

With John Chavis replacing Mark Snyder as defensive coordinator, there’s no scapegoat left on that side of the ball. Chavis has a reputation for crafting top defenses in his sleep, and he’ll be expected to do that in College Station. It’ll be up to Sumlin to make sure Kyle Allen, his former top recruit at quarterback, is ready to run the offense full time after taking over mid-season in 2014. The Aggies will be wholly expected to bounce back from an 8-5 campaign. If they drop further, expect grumbling to grow louder.