Which new SEC coach can duplicate Smart's early success?

Savannah Richardson
June 12, 2018 - 9:14 am
Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher

© C. Morgan Engel-USA TODAY Sports

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On Monday during The Midday Show with Rick and John, the two ranked the five new head coaches in the Southeastern Conference on how they thought they’ll do in Year 1 in the conference.

John ranked the coaches the following:

  1. Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M
  2. Joe Moorhead, Mississippi State
  3. Dan Mullen, Florida
  4. Chad Morris, Arkansas
  5. Jeremey Pruitt, Tennessee

Rick ranked the coaches:

  1. Jimbo Fisher
  2. Joe Moorhead
  3. Dan Mullen
  4. Jeremey Pruitt
  5. Chad Morris

Despite six coaches receiving contracts, Rick and John decided that Matt Luke isn’t considered a new coach since he coached a majority of last season.

After listening to them talk about their rankings, I decided to rank the coaches myself. I took a decidedly different approach.

While Georgia head coach Kirby Smart had a rather pedestrian first season at 8-5, he took the Bulldogs to the national championship game in his second year. That was a monumental accomplishment.

Can any of these five new SEC front men mimic Smart’s success in a two-year window?

Probably:

Jimbo Fisher

I have to agree with Rick and John on this one. Jimbo Fisher has a pool full of talent in College Station. After going 7-6 last season and 4-4 in the SEC, the only way to go is up for the Aggies. There’s a quarterback battle brewing between Nick Starkel and Kellen Mond, and that will be a crucial component for the success.

Fisher inherits a lot more talent than the other four coaches, and with what he did at Florida State University, I expect him to mimic that in College Station. In fairness, I think that he’s two years away at least because his team’s on the most robust side of the SEC and they have to face Alabama every season. However, it’s feasible for him to reach where Smart did.

Maybe:

Dan Mullen

Mullen’s in the Maybe category because he was a quarterback guru while at Mississippi State. Well if Florida needs anything, it’s a quarterback whisperer. The Gators have plenty of options, but none of them seemed able to get the job done. Florida’s quarterback battle is between Emory Jones, Feleipe Franks, Kyle Trask and Jake Allen.

Mullen needs to revamp his offense and find some grit to his defense. The final thing he could do is continue the success on the recruiting trail. After finishing 14th last year on 247Sports, the Gators must continue getting top-20 classes if they want to attempt what Georgia did.  Finally, if he can get the players to buy into his program, the Gators should challenge Georgia by Year 3 or 4.

Joe Moorhead

Coach Moorhead inherited one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC West with Nick Fitzgerald. However, after he got hurt last season, he hasn't competed on the field. I think if he can come back healthy and ready to go, Mississippi State could challenge some of the lower tier SEC West teams. Could Moorhead produce an 8-5 season like Smart did his first season? Yes, but can he take Mississippi State to the SEC Championship and farther? No, I don’t think he can with what he has in Starkville, at least not by Year 2.

Moorhead needs to recruit well and make a name for Mississippi State the way Mullen did. If he can keep them on the radar, he shouldn’t have much trouble getting the players he needs to take the Bulldogs to the next level.

No chance at All:

Chad Morris

Coach Chad Morris has a tough road ahead of him. Arkansas had a lot of ups and downs last season, but more downs than anything. The Razorbacks are in the SEC West which adds a lot of difficulty because of the fact they play teams like Alabama and LSU. On top of that, recruiting efforts haven’t been that good, and he has a deep hole to dig out.

Jeremy Pruitt

Jeremy Pruitt took on a complete dumpster fire in Knoxville. There isn’t much going right for Tennessee right now, and it’s going to take more than two years for him to get the program back on track. Will Tennessee eventually be a force? Yes, but it’s probably going to take 4-5 years with the right process and frame of mind. Pruitt’s big on “the process,” similar to Georgia and Alabama, and I expect him to change the culture of Tennessee football completely, but it’s going to take a while.