Which SEC coaches could remain on job in 10 years?
Nick Saban turns 65 on Halloween.
If he wants to chase Bear Bryant’s records, Alabama no doubt will let him. Odds are, Saban will retire before his 75th birthday.
Removing Saban from the equation, is there an SEC coach who will be on the same sideline in 10 years?
It’s unlikely, at best, given just one current coach — LSU’s Les Miles — has survived 10 seasons, though Saban is very safely entering his 10th at Alabama.
Turnover is part of the new world order. More than half of the league’s programs have redshirt seniors with more time on campus than their head football coach.
Best bet to make it to 2026 SEC Media Days
Jim McElwain, Florida: To stay that long, two things need to happen: First, a coach has to win, and second, he has to think he can’t win bigger somewhere else. Florida has won national championships. Its recruiting pool has no shallow end. Unless Alabama comes calling, it’s hard to imagine McElwain leaving Florida for any other college job.
Butch Jones, Tennessee: Is there any football coach in the country who looks, sounds, walks and talks more like a football coach? The passion he shows for Tennessee and VFL seems too real to be part of a plan to land a better gig. And if he takes Tennessee where he wants to, there might not be many other better gigs.
Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss: He has it rolling, and he not only knows it, he appreciates it. Texas A&M, with all of its money, is a natural to jump on any transitional opening created by Saban’s eventual retirement from Alabama, but Freeze’s Rebels likely will be in the best position to do so.
Dan Mullen, Mississippi State: He seemingly is a candidate for just about every job, but each time he’s stayed. Roots are beginning to grow, and Mississippi State is the kind of program that will stay with you through a 7-6, 7-6, 6-7 stretch. He’s just their fourth coach since Rockey Felker started in 1986. He soon turns 44 and no longer is the “hot coach.” Just like Mark Dantonio at Michigan State, Mullen could go a lot of other places, but why would he?
Better days ahead …
Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M: He’s a good situation in that he recruits well and he’ll win enough to attract another job, perhaps in the NFL. He might not find a better payday, but rather a better situation. Ten wins soon won’t be enough for the big-spending Aggies. He’s in a get-out-before-they-force-me-out situation.
Derek Mason, Vanderbilt: James Franklin got his and got out. Mason, a defensive guru, is trying to put together the pieces, and it will get interesting — and expensive — the minute he does.
Will Muschamp, South Carolina: Coach Boom isn’t afraid to load up the moving van. Sometimes it’s not his choice, but the next time it could be. Steve Spurrier couldn’t win it all with the Gamecocks. If Muschamp can get them close, opportunities will come.
Bret Bielema, Arkansas: He jumped from Wisconsin, where he was Barry Alvarez’s hand-picked successor and job security was not a concern. When will he grow tired of finishing third in his own division? That’s the key question in this equation.
It won’t be their call …
Les Miles, LSU: Miles barely survived his 11th season. He’s already 62. If he doesn’t win the SEC West this season, it’s unlikely there will be another fourth-quarter comeback on his tenure, allowing him to go out on his own. If he does win, they’ll just want another title next season, and when that doesn’t happen. … It’s too romantic of a notion to think coaches can ride off into retirement.
Gus Malzahn, Auburn: Google “Gus Malzahn hot seat.” He’s regressed every year, and if that continues in 2016, he might not get a chance to fix it. He’s a good offensive mind, so if/when it ends, he’ll rebound quickly.
Kirby Smart, Georgia: Smart could stay in Athens for the next 25 years. He clearly loves the program and is ready to make it his. But he’s a first-time head coach, and if he doesn’t win — and win big — in the next five years, then what? Georgia just fired a coach who won 10 games almost every year.
Mark Stoops, Kentucky: He’s entering Year 4, but he’s still a first-time head coach with a 12-24 career record. He’s still looking for his first winning season. It better come quickly … or it likely will come somewhere else.
Too soon to tell
Barry Odom, Missouri: Like Smart, Odom is taking over at his alma mater. Like Stoops (and Mason and others), he’s a first-time head coach in the toughest conference in America. Lasting 10 years in your first job seems unlikely, but he’s already home, in the SEC, so where else would he want to go?