How will the five new SEC coaches play out in their first years?
Published 4:06 pm Tuesday, June 12, 2018
The SEC has five new coaches starting at programs in both the East and the West. Some have coached before to varying successes, and others have never had a program of their own to run. How will they fall into the conference landscape this season?
Jimbo Fisher is easily the biggest name on the list of SEC newcomers this season. The national media will have their eyes on College Station, whether Texas A&M produces good results or not. As if I need to remind anyone in this neck of the woods, Fisher coached the Florida State Seminoles to an undefeated season and a national championship in 2013. It was one of the most dominant seasons of the decade. Then, things fell apart. I probably don’t need to remind anyone how that happened, either.
Obviously, Fisher wanted new scenery, and he’s got it at Texas A&M. So far, his work on the recruiting trail is picking up steam with two 5-stars and a handful of 4 and 3-stars. If he expects his program to rise faster than Texas, he’ll need to continue the good work. I doubt we’ll see a big difference in production from the team in relation to last season under Kevin Sumlin, though. In September alone they play Clemson and Alabama. That’s tough no matter who you are. I see the Aggies going 7-5.
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Joe Moorehead, former Penn State offensive coordinator, has the luxury of coaching one of the Top 3 quarterbacks in the conference with Nick Fitzgerald. As one who has proven he can run a high-power offense, I look for Mississippi State to be the surprise of the SEC West, once again. I doubt the Bulldogs will beat Alabama and Auburn, but I would write them in for wins against the Aggies, LSU and rival Ole Miss.
Chad Morris is a big unknown for me. He had middle of the road success at Southern Methodist University, going 14-22 overall. Being in the SEC West already pits him against some of the best competition in the country, but he’ll need to really hunker down on his recruiting efforts to make any great strides, and I just have a hard time believing that will happen for the Razorbacks.
Dan Mullen at Florida has my attention for a variety of reasons. He’s coaching Bainbridge running back Dameon Pierce. He’s taking over one of Georgia’s biggest rivals. He has the experience under his belt to make the Gators a contender. He’s a quarterback whisperer. All of these are reasons to be afraid of the Gators. With a talented roster, I think Florida will surprise a few teams this season, going 9-3 or possibly 10-2, a major leap forward from last season. The question is, will the players already there buy into what Mullen is selling them?
And lastly, there’s Jeremy Pruitt at Tennessee. His tenure has gotten off to a strange start. He’s called out the fans for a lackluster attendance at the spring game, he’s been a little confrontational with the media and, to me, he gives off an air of not knowing what in the world he is doing.
All of this may be true, but Pruitt can still coach a heck of a defense. It’ll take a few seasons for Pruitt to get the feel of running a program and not just running a defense, but he won’t have much success this year. The Vols have seen rock bottom, not winning a single conference game in 2017. They’ll at least win one in 2018, I think.