Lots of SEC Football coaches enter this year surrounded by questions. Some are on the hot seat, others are unexpected newcomers, and a few have to prove they aren’t flukes. Here is a ranking of every Southeastern Conference head coach for this year.
14. Zach Arnett – Mississippi State Bulldogs
The only newcomer on this list, Zach Arnett simply hasn’t proven anything. He takes over Mississippi State under the worst circumstances after the death of Mike Leach, but he obviously can’t be any higher than last given the fact that he’s never been a head coach.
13. Billy Napier – Florida Gators
A rocky first season can be forgiven. However, Billy Napier has humiliated himself this offseason, and maybe it wasn’t him, with Florida’s NIL issues and inability to lock down recruits. They are now picked fifth in the East, so this SEC Football season is huge for Napier.
12. Shane Beamer – South Carolina Gamecocks
Two weeks to end the season went from Shane Beamer being on the hot seat to him being a rising star. Sorry, we can’t overreact like that just yet. Beamer is ahead of Billy Napier and could rise up this list, but he’s got to do more than an 8-5 season.
11. Eli Drinkwitz – Missouri Tigers
Right now, Eliah Drinkwtiz is still coasting from surprisingly taking Mizzou 5-5 his first year there during the COVID season. However, he has done little else sense, and you get the feeling that this will stay a .500 program. Still, they were three plays away from 10-3 last year, so a turnaround is possible.
10. Clark Lea – Vanderbilt Commodores
Going 2-10 and 5-7 his first two years would seem to put Clark Lea at the bottom, but the improvement Vanderbilt showed last year was drastic. Scoring two SEC Football wins over Florida and Kentucky takes it to another level as well and is more impressive than anything anybody else did last year.
9. Sam Pittman – Arkansas Razorbacks
Similar to Eli Drinkwitz, Sam Pittman generated lots of hype for his early success. However, he went from a decent 2020 to a top 10 ranking at one point in 2021, so it lasted longer, which is what puts him here. After going just over .500 last year, though, Pittman has a lot to prove this year.
8. Hugh Freeze – Auburn Tigers
Whatever you think of him as a person, and there’s not much to think of him on that front, Hugh Freeze can coach. He’s an offensive genius who has Nick Saban’s number. That’ll show at Auburn. However, he only really had two elite seasons at Ole Miss, so he still has more to prove.
7. Jimbo Fisher – Texas A&M Aggies
Legacy alone keeps Jimbo Fisher in the top half of these SEC Football head coach rankings. Fisher has gotten paid more than anybody else off that one national championship in 2013, but it’s looking more and more like a fluke. With Bobby Petrino on staff, he’ll either rise or get fired after this year.
6. Lane Kiffin – Ole Miss Rebels
Utilizing the transfer portal because of his recruiting limitations, Lane Kiffin consistently keeps Ole Miss on the fringe of the top 25. He’s maxing out what can be done there, and honestly, there may be no better game planner in all of SEC Football than Kiffin.
5. Mark Stoops – Kentucky Wildcats
Speaking of maxing things out as a program, Mark Stoops and Kentucky went 7-6 last year, and it was considered a bad year. Remember when anything near .500 was elite for Kentucky? That’s what he’s built this program into, which makes him top five.
4. Josh Heupel – Tennessee Volunteers
Yes, you can do more at Tennessee than Kentucky, but going 11-2 with the Vols in his second season there given the disaster he inherited was next level impressive for Josh Heupel. It vaults him into a top four spot in the SEC for now. UT was a three-year job. Heupel needed two.
3. Brian Kelly – LSU Tigers
Taking Notre Dame to the College Football Playoff and the national title game in different seasons is maxing out what can be done there. It’s the worst job in America. Winning the West his first year at LSU only adds to Brian Kelly’s resume. He’s a national title away from being solidified as one of the greatest coaches ever.
2. Kirby Smart – Georgia Bulldogs
Right now, Kirby Smart is running a dynasty with Georgia. There’s an argument that he’s the best head coach in the country. However, legacy has to matter to a degree, and at the end of the day, in seven years, he still has just two SEC championships and two national championships.
1. Nick Saban – Alabama Crimson Tide
Six national titles and eight SEC titles in 17 years is slightly more impressive than two and two in seven years, and that’s enough to keep Nick Saban at No. 1 on this list. It’ll be a long time before anybody knocks him off, as he is probably the greatest coach ever right now.