Is Your SEC Football Team Heading Up or Down?
In SEC Football as in life, whether you’re on the way up or down at some point you’re equal to someone else, like passing cable cars. You can look over, smile and wave at the tourist in the other car, but for one the ride is half over and the other just starting out.
South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier is one of the most anticipated SEC Football coaches at SEC Media Days, because he comes with enough colorful commentary to fill newspaper columns, radio shows and sports blogs with content for weeks. The recent event in the scorching heatwave in Hoover, AL, July, 2015 was no exception. Of his team’s record, Coach Spurrier said,
“We were 7-6, same as Tennessee and the same as Arkansas, and I think they’re sort of celebrating big seasons last year. So we were celebrating also.”
Someone should tell “The Head Ball Coach,” formerly known as “Ol’ Ball Coach,” that while he may be looking across from his cable car and seeing Arkansas and Tennessee in the next car beside his, the difference is, while the Vols and Razorbacks are experiencing an upward trend, the Gamecocks are headed the other way.
Those two SEC Football teams both have Freshman Coaches with only two completed seasons at their respective jobs and both improved their records in the SEC from their first season to their second. Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema won zero SEC games his first year and two his second. Tennessee’s Butch Jones won two SEC football games last year up one from his first year, which was also one more win than his predecessor Derek Dooley. And if you don’t think that trend is important at Tennessee, ask Dooley who was asked to pack up his fancy London-made custom Vols-Orange died pants and leave after his first three seasons trying to find that checker-board end zone and was unable to improve on his predecessor’s record, Lane Kiffin.
South Carolina’s football team hasn’t won a game against Tennessee since Butch Jones’ arrival in Knoxville, which adds to the weirdness of the comparison.
Coach Spurrier could have said we had seven wins and that’s the same as Florida. Maybe he would have said that until he remembered that seven-win record got the Gators head football coach Will Muschamp fired from his job after his fourth season even though the team had one more SEC football win in 2014 than the year prior. Florida lost to two teams that played in the inaugural College Football Playoff, Alabama and Florida State. In basketball terms, those are good losses. It could be that losing to South Carolina was such a ‘bad loss’ that it was paramount to Coach Muschamp being shown the door.
Texas A&M Coach Kevin Sumlin said Spurrier told him: “You guys had same record as Auburn last year right? You should tell (the media) that.” Sumlin might have been better off not mentioning that either. Have you ever been on a cable car and when it crosses the poll it rocks and drops abruptly. Another Freshman coach, like Butch Jones and Bret Bielema, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn has completed two seasons with his team. But unlike those two teams Auburn took the most dramatic drop in the conference cutting their SEC wins from eight in 2013 to four last year. For three years Coach Sumlin watched through his sunglasses (even at night games) as the Aggies football team steadily declined their SEC win column from six to four to only three wins last year. Spurrier was correct, Texas A&M had the same overall record as Auburn, but neither Sumlin or Malzahn want to be seen on the same downward headed cable car as the other.
If they were on the same cable car, maybe they talked and that explains how they came up with the same solution to their problems. Both Sumlin and Malzahn fired their defensive coordinators at the end of the 2014 college football season. Both of these Freshman head coaches made changes on their coaching staffs quickly before anyone could ask them to get off the ride. In the dot com business trends, that’s called, “fail fast.” We’ll see if it works.
Eventually every cable car reaches the bottom, turns and heads back up. It’s important to know which cable your car is riding on.
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