Every SEC head coach's last stop before landing current job
With LSU set to officially announce the hiring of Ed Orgeron as its head coach, let’s take a look at all the SEC programs and from where each plucked its current head coach.
Alabama — Nick Saban: Testing the waters of the NFL, Saban was head coach of the Miami Dolphins for two seasons before returning to the SEC. His first season in the NFL was a rocky one until the Dolphins won their last six games to salvage a 9-7 season. But the Saban-led Dolphins slumped to 6-10 the following year. In 2007, the Crimson Tide signed Saban away from the Dolphins with an initial 8-year, $32 million contract and the rest, as they say, is history.
Arkansas — Bret Bielema: In his fourth season with the Razorbacks, Bielema was lured away from Wisconsin after the 2012 season. He was defensive coordinator for two years before becoming the Badgers’ head coach in 2006. It was his first head coaching job and over the next seven seasons, Bielema compiled a 68-24 record at Wisconsin, including a 12-1 record in his first season there. His teams advanced to consecutive Rose Bowl games over his final years in Madison.
Auburn — Gus Malzahn: In 2012, after three seasons as quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator, Malzahn left Auburn to take his first job as a head coach. In one season at Arkansas State, he went 9-3 and won the Sun Belt Conference — beating Middle Tennessee 49-0 in the championship game. The following year (2013) he was lured back to Auburn to become the Tigers’ head coach.
Florida — Jim McElwain: Before taking over at Florida last season, McElwain cut his teeth as a head coach at Colorado State from 2012-14. With the Rams, he improved steadily. After an inauspicious 4-8 first season, McElwain’s Colorado State team recorded a winning season (8-6), culminating in a victory at the New Mexico Bowl. That momentum carried over to his final year at Colorado State, which rose to a No. 21 ranking nationally and a final record of 10-2.
Georgia — Kirby Smart: The long-time defensive coordinator at Alabama, Smart is in his first season as a head coach. He was DC at Alabama from 2008-15 and had previously been on Saban’s staffs at LSU and in the NFL with Miami. At Alabama, he earned the Frank Broyles Award in 2009 as the nation’s top assistant coach. In 2013 he became the highest-paid ($1.28 million) defensive coordinator in college football.
Kentucky — Mark Stoops: The Wildcats’ head coach since 2013, Stoops is in his first stint as head coach. Before coming to Kentucky he was the defensive backs and defensive coordinator at Florida State from 2010-12. There he inherited a defense ranked 42nd in the nation in average yards allowed per game (353.7) and in three years turned it into the No. 2-ranked defense (253.8).
LSU — Ed Orgeron: In his second go-round as an SEC head coach, Orgeron came to LSU from USC. Prior to being named the Trojans’ interim head coach in 2013, he had been the Trojans’ defensive line and recruiting coordinator from 2010-13. He was 6-2 as the USC interim head coach following the firing of Lane Kiffin but was not offered the job as permanent head coach. At LSU, he was the defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator before replacing Les Miles. Orgeron was 10-25 as Ole Miss’ head coach from 2005-07.
Mississippi State — Dan Mullen: After an impressive stint as quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator at Florida from 2005-08, Mullen landed his first job as head coach in 2009 with Mississippi State. He followed Urban Meyer from Bowling Green (2001) to the 2004 undefeated season at Utah, and then on to Florida where he coached Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow.
Missouri — Barry Odom: Odom was promoted to head coach after serving as Missouri’s defensive coordinator in 2015.
Ole Miss — Hugh Freeze: Like Malzahn, Freeze was head coach at Arkansas State for one season before moving up to the SEC. Freeze was the offensive coordinator at Arkansas State in 2010 before becoming the school’s head coach a year later. Freeze led the team to a Sun Belt Conference and a 10-2 record.
South Carolina — Will Muschamp: After one season as defensive coordinator at Auburn, Muschamp got a second chance at becoming an SEC head coach. He landed at Auburn last season after being dismissed from Florida following four seasons as head coach of the Gators from 2011-14. Last season at Auburn Muschamp was the highest paid defensive coordinator in college football.
Texas A&M — Kevin Sumlin: The Aggies snatched up Sumlin in 2012, after four seasons as head coach at Houston. He guided the Cougars to two Conference USA West Division titles during his first stint as a head coach. His last Houston team went 12-1 in 2011, including an undefeated conference slate and a high ranking of No. 7 in the Associated Press Poll.
Vanderbilt — Derek Mason: An assistant coach on the Stanford staff from 2010-13, Mason got the opportunity in 2014 with Vanderbilt for his first job as head coach. He was the defensive backs coach at Stanford in 2010, moved up to assistant head coach/co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach the following year, and in his final two years at Stanford was the team’s assistant head coach and defensive coordinator.