Eight conferences down, just two to go. This week we move cross country from the west coast to the southeast. Next up is the SEC. Here are the 2017 SEC standings.
When Jim McElwain was relieved of his duties in late October, I realized no current coach in the SEC East at that point had ever won the division! In fact, the last three head coaches to win the division (McElwain, Pinkel, and Richt) had all departed within three seasons of winning the division! Is this standard practice in the SEC? To find out, I looked at all SEC coaches that have won division titles since the league expanded in 1992. I then calculated how many seasons they coached at their school after their most recent title. For example, Steve Spurrier won pretty much every SEC East title in the 90’s at Florida, but his most recent title with the Gators came in 2000. He coached just one additional season at Florida before resigning to become head coach of the Washington Redskins. Obviously, Spurrier was not forced out at Florida, but I still wanted to get an idea of how long each coach lasted after their last division title. I rounded partial seasons up, so Jim McElwain gets credit for one full season and Les Miles get credit for five even though they did not finish out their final campaigns. The following table lists the SEC division winning coaches who are no longer employed by the schools where they won titles. I have highlighted coaches who were removed for performance based reasons to differentiate those from coaches who moved on voluntarily. We
can quibble with a few of those distinctions, but for the most part, I think they are accurate.
Examining the SEC in a vacuum allows us to gleam a little information, but a comparison is what we really want. Are SEC coaches on a much shorter leash? To answer that, we need to look at the other Power Five conferences. The SEC had a decade or more head start on every other major conference except the Big 12, and the Big 12 ended divisional play eight seasons ago, so I have decided to lump the other four conferences together. Once again, I have included all division title winning coaches while highlighting those that were fired or forced out for performance-based reasons.
It does appear life is tougher for coaches in the SEC, at least in regards to longevity. Winning a division title doesn’t buy you a lot of time. Of course, the compensation, on par with the GDP of some Central American countries and the guaranteed contracts that are the envy of NBA players helps keep the fired coaches above the poverty line.