SEC Hot Seat Rankings: Week 8
This week marks the midpoint of the 2014 season — seven weeks behind us with seven weeks remaining in the regular season.
Is it too early to begin talk of the hot seat? Possibly. But coaching in the SEC isn’t easy, and someone’s always on the hot seat. So heading into Week 8, SDS is going to rank some of the SEC’s head coaches based on who has the hottest seat.
THE HOTTEST SEATS
1A. Will Muschamp: Muschamp continues to ride the hottest seat in the SEC as we make the turn to the second half of the season. His Gators are 3-2, but they don’t look to have improved much from last season, especially on offense. Florida blew a game it should have won at home to LSU last week, and it was wildly out-classed by the only ranked foe it has faced so far this season, the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Gators have done just enough to get by with a winning record, and even their wins over Kentucky and Tennessee have been close and ugly. Factor in the off-field storylines that have surrounded the program in recent weeks, and it’s obvious why Muschamp may already have a foot out the door.
1B. Derek Mason: Mason wasn’t expected to win nine games right away like James Franklin did at Vanderbilt the last two years, but he was expected to do more with the Commodores than he has so far this season. The ‘Dores are 2-5 through seven weeks, and those two wins (against lowly UMass and Charleston Southern of the FCS) came by a combined four points. The five losses, meanwhile, including a 30-point home loss to Temple on opening night, came by an average of about 24 points apiece. Vanderbilt has played multiple quarterbacks in every game this season, and four different players have taken snaps under center this year. The Commodores haven’t even come close to winning an SEC game, and they’re lucky to have won the non-conference games they won. Vandy is not just the worst team in the SEC, it’s one of the worst teams in the FBS. Mason wasn’t going to pick up right where Franklin left off, but he’s let this program free fall out of relevancy in just half a season. Unless he can find this team’s pulse in the final stretch of the season, he may only get this one year in Nashville.
THE WARM SEATS
3. Butch Jones: Tennessee is trending positively from years past, but it still hasn’t achieved anything more than it had during the disappointing seasons of its recent history. The Volunteers had chances to beat both Georgia and Florida, but couldn’t close out either game. They remain winless in the SEC, and this week’s road test against Ole Miss isn’t likely to be their first conference win of the year. Jones is still laying the foundation for his program, which is fine, and no one is expecting Tennessee to contend for national championships right away. But with the East as weak as it has ever been, it’s unacceptable that Jones hasn’t won an SEC game. If he hopes to lead Tennessee to a bowl this year that will have to change in the second half of the season. Eventually, fans will grow tired of Jones’ brick by brick approach if those “bricks” don’t begin translating into success on the field. That day hasn’t come yet, but with every missed opportunity this season the Volunteers will grow more and more impatient with their coach.
4. Steve Spurrier: Spurrier is a coaching legend in the SEC, but he’s beginning to show his age this season. The Head Ball Coach has made some questionable decisions in the fourth quarters of games, contributing to blown double digit leads in losses to Missouri and Kentucky earlier this month. There comes a time in every coach’s career when the game finally passes them by and they can no longer keep up with the times. It remains to be seen whether Spurrier has reached that point or not, but he’s certainly trending that way. South Carolina is a modest 3-3, and if it fails to win more than six games after starting the season ranked in the top 10 it could be a sign that Spurrier’s time in Columbia is up.
BONUS BLAST FROM THE PAST HOT SEAT
5. The ghost of Ron Zook: Okay, I know Zook isn’t deceased, but the Zook that was once the state of Florida’s human punching bag has been dead and gone for almost a decade. I’d love to pick the brains of Florida fans to see whether they’re more bitter over the Zook era or the ongoing Muschamp era. Zook may have been the subject of widespread hatred, but he never led Florida short of a bowl game like Muschamp did last season.