Which SEC coaches could be on the hot seat in 2015?
Life as a coach in the SEC is tough.
We’ve coaches go from national champions to out the door in a matter of seasons, and coaches who took over programs have promising starts, only to be out in a few years.
Whose seat will be warmer as the 2015 season kicks off?
1. Derek Mason, Vanderbilt
Mason will enter his second season in Nashville in 2015, and his first year couldn’t have gone much worse. The rookie head coach finished 3-9 and dismissed several staff members after one year on the job, symbolizing how much pressure is on coaches to win the SEC, even at the conference’s toughest job.
Quarterback troubles highlighted the Commodores’ problems this season, and the new offensive coordinator is going be tasked with injecting some life in the Vanderbilt offense. Should Mason limp to another two or three-win season in 2015, his leash could be very short.
2. Gus Malzahn, Auburn
Malzahn’s seat is not hot, but it could be getting warm as the 2015 season approaches. The second-year Auburn CEO did himself a disservice by making it to the national championship game in year one, all but obliterating reasonable expectations for his encore.
The Tigers started strong, going 7-1 and ranking as high as No. 3 in the College Football Top 25, yet lost three of its last four to finish a disappointing 8-4 mark. The defensive ineptitude led to the firing of Ellis Johnson, and now Malzahn is in the midst of a search looking to right the ship on that side of the ball.
Malzahn is still rebuilding the program, however, with a SEC championship already under his belt, the timetable is getting any longer.
3. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
Sumlin is a member of the $5 million club after leading the Aggies to impressive seasons in his first two years with Johnny Manziel under center.
Texas A&M disappointed in 2014, after a strong opening statement in the win over South Carolina. The Aggies finished 7-5 and made a quarterback change late in the season giving true freshman Kyle Allen the nod over Kenny Hill, whose performance in the season-opening win over the Gamecocks earned him a nickname in his own right.
The defense couldn’t stop air, which led to Mark Snyder’s dismissal, thus A&M joins Auburn on the search for a new coordinator.
Like Mazahn, Sumlin’s seat isn’t hot yet, but another mediocre season could make like in College Station very uncomfortable.
4. Mark Stoops, Kentucky
The Wildcats extended Stoops during Kentucky’s 5-1 start to the season, which very easily could’ve been 6-0. Stoops had his team looking much improved and like the program was heading in the right direction.
An 0-6 finish to the season quickly changed the tone of the season and — while Stoops has improved the recruiting and has raised funds for new facilities — you can’t survive, even at Kentucky, closing the season on a six-game skid.
Kentucky needs to make a bowl game in 2015, or that extension could be looking quite grim.