Mark Richt is gone, and Les Miles is still standing — much to the chagrin of his bosses. Two good coaches got caught in the whirlwind of coaching security throughout this fall. Two man entered, and one man was left standing. But why are these guys coming under fire?
LSU has three SEC West crowns, two SEC titles, and one national championship during the Miles tenure. This is the fourth season in which LSU will not finish with 10 wins under Les’ watch, never once reaching the average 7-5 season. Georgia has six SEC East crowns, and two SEC titles in Richt’s 15-year stint with the Bulldogs. If Georgia wins their bowl game, they will only have four seasons in which they didn’t reach ten wins. Those are good numbers for any college coach. That is, unless you’re Nick Saban.
Since Nick Saban arrived at Alabama in 2007, the Crimson Tide have won three national championships and seemingly every SEC title. Alabama went 7-6 in Saban’s first year, but has had 10+ wins in each season since. To put it bluntly, the devil himself has created a powerhouse that is wrecking havoc on the SEC. You can look at the list of every SEC coach who has been fired since Saban took the reigns.
• Tennessee fired their famed head coach Phillip Fulmer in 2008 after suffering two beatdowns from Saban. They are now on their third head coach since, and it’s not looking good for Butch, either.
• Even the Auburn Tigers can’t seem to navigate the power of Saban. Yes, they won a title in 2010 and lost to FSU in 2013, but they have gone 38-37 since 2008 and are on their third coach since Saban came to town.
• Arkansas is on their third head coach. Bielema was supposed to be the answer to the power game that Bama runs, but he hasn’t been. Gotta think Petrino and co. would have a good squad if he never got on that motorcycle with his mistress.
• Mississippi State and Ole Miss have been, well, Mississippi State and Ole Miss since Saban came along — muddling around the middle or bottom, never really in it at the end. That’s not their fault; they just don’t have the devil running things on the sidelines.
• Sumlin and A&M were supposed to be the kryptonite for Bama, using their spread attack and running QB. They pulled it off in Sumlin’s first season, but have come crashing down ever since. Maybe the Big 12 sent the wrong spread attack to the SEC and should have picked Oklahoma. It would not surprise me to see a coaching change if things don’t get better after next year.
The only coach who gave Saban some fits is Urban Meyer at Florida (and again in last year’s College Football Playoff). But even Meyer couldn’t escape the power of Saban. Entering the 2009 SEC title game on a 22-game win streak, the Tide beat Meyer’s Gators, sending Urban to the hospital that night. Meyer would step down as coach shortly after, only to return the next day. Florida has never really been the same since.
So is Saban the reason that the SEC coaching carousel is in full motion? I wouldn’t doubt it. Saban has set the bar and schools are pressuring their coaches to meet those expectations, or else. Florida hopes that, by hiring his old offensive coordinator, if they can’t beat him, get the next closest thing to him. If Florida somehow beats Bama this weekend (they won’t), Kirby Smart will be the next coach an SEC school tries to grab to emulate that same success from McElwain.
I respect what Saban has done down in Tuscaloosa. Not only is he pumping out NFL-ready talent (minus Trent Richardson) each year, he’s also giving the kids what they really need: an education. When you are recruited by Bama, and eventually sign with them, you’re essentially committing to four years under Saban. Even when kids are good enough to leave after three, it’s not surprising when they stay for their senior season, win a bunch of games, and get degrees.
It’s Saban’s world in the southeast, and the rest of the conference is just living in it..
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