While head coaches receive most of the credit for their team’s success and most of the blame for its failures, coordinators and assistant coaches play valuable roles within every program in the nation.

With that in mind, we asked our SDS staffers which current SEC coordinator or assistant coach is most important to his particular team as we move closer to the 2015 season.

Do you agree with the nominations? Check out the responses below:


Jon Cooper (@JonSDS): Will Muschamp, Defensive Coordinator, Auburn

Will Muschamp is the easy answer and the most popular answer. However, knowing Auburn’s offense will put up points, the defense has a chance to be the most improved unit in the SEC, including Texas A&M with John Chavis. Under Muschamp, Auburn’s defensive line will improve, as will the secondary. I still think Texas A&M is a year away from competing for the division, but Auburn is ready to win a national championship right now. Therefore, Muschamp’s impact, or lack thereof, will be the most important for 2015.

Brad Crawford (@BCrawfordSDS): Jeremy Pruitt, Defensive Coordinator, Georgia

If this team is going to get over the hump and win a national championship under Mark Richt, the time is now and that starts on the defensive side of the ball with returning playmakers Leonard Floyd, Jordan Jenkins and Lorenzo Carter. Pruitt’s won everywhere he has been and during his second season in Athens his defense should be among the nation’s best.

Christopher Smith (@CSmithSDS): John Chavis, Defensive Coordinator, Texas A&M

It’s difficult to differentiate Chavis from Auburn’s Will Muschamp. Both are getting paid somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.6 million as defensive coordinators, an absurd figure. But I believe the Tigers would’ve played much better on defense regardless of the coordinator, because the natural ebb and flow of talent and injuries appears to be on Auburn’s side compared to ’14. Meanwhile, this season is a — no, the — critical juncture of Kevin Sumlin’s tenure at Texas A&M. He’s getting paid $5 million to chase division titles, not to languish in the middle of the SEC West. And he no longer has a fall guy at defensive coordinator. The Aggies need Chavis to turn the defense from a huge weakness into at least a small strength immediately.

Ethan Levine (@EthanLevineSDS): Mike DeBord, Offensive Coordinator, Tennessee

I’m on record in an SEC Debate earlier this week as saying I still believe defense wins championships, and I really do believe that. However, I also think an offensive coordinator is the most important to his particular team in the SEC this year. DeBord is a new face leading Tennessee’s offense, and he’s been gifted plenty of playmakers. I believe Joshua Dobbs has the makings of the next first-team All-SEC quarterback, and believe that between he, Jalen Hurd, Alvin Kamara and a bevy of talented wideouts, the Vols offense has a chance to be among the conference’s best. Tennessee took a massive step forward a year ago winning its first bowl game since the Phillip Fulmer era, and it’ll have a chance to win perhaps the weakest SEC East since the conference split to two divisions come the fall. DeBord’s ability to lead the offense to its full potential could decide the fate of the season.

Brett Weisband (@WeisbandSDS): Chavis

You can look at either of the two highest-profile defensive coordinator hirings in the West and make a compelling argument about why they’ll matter the most in 2015. Will Muschamp comes to Auburn with a reputation as one of the best defensive minds in college football, while John Chavis built a string of top-15 defenses at LSU prior to his arrival at Texas A&M. Both teams were undone by porous defenses in 2014, and both made the moves to rectify that. The difference between the two is that Gus Malzahn has proven he can win at Auburn with just a mediocre defense, as he did when he led the Tigers to the 2013 national title game.
Meanwhile at Texas A&M, the Aggies have seen their record drop precipitously from an 11-2 campaign in 2012 as the defense went from middling to cover-your-eyes awful. Even with some inconsistency, the Aggies were still tops in the SEC in total offense last year, they just couldn’t tackle or cover anyone, leading to an 8-5 record and a 3-5 mark in the SEC. For the last two seasons, we’ve wondered what Kevin Sumlin could do on offense with a defense that was just average. With Chavis’ track record, we can expect major improvement from that side of the ball. Even if Texas A&M’s defense doesn’t reach the level LSU has been at for the last half-decade, simple improvement could turn the Aggies into a terrifying matchup.