53.6 F
Huntsville
56 F
Muscle Shoals
54.7 F
Albertville
54.3 F
Fort Payne

Rating the coaches of the SEC East — and Auburn

During the offseason, college football fans have little to sink their teeth into. The NFL Draft is fun, but this year’s has the potential to be a snore. The addition of an early signing period has vacuumed out most of the drama from February’s National Signing Day. Spring practice is a great bone to throw to fans, but it doesn’t fill our plates.

In the spirit of this time of year, the college football desert, your Throw the Flag hosts like to take an early look at who’s on the hot seat in the SEC coaching carousel.

Are we manufacturing news? No. We’re manufacturing top-flight audio and written content for you, the visitor of 256Today.

For this week’s update, we’re going to rate the coaches of the SEC East. It is the official position of this column that Auburn should be in the SEC East, so Bryan Harsin will be scrutinized with his colleagues in the first part of Throw The Flag’s Rating the Coaches.

RATING THE COACHES

Your standard rating systems typically range from one to five or 10. That’s not good enough for the readers of 256Today. Since this website offers smart news for smart people, our system is different.

  • (6) Rename the stadium. Your name will grace our field or stadium until someone comes along who performs better than you do. Think Shug Jordan or Bear Bryant.
  • (5) Build the statue. We’re building a statue in your likeness. Think Nick Saban or Pat Dye.
  • (4) Extend the contract. We like what you’re doing, and we want to keep you on campus. Expect a raise and a sensible car to drive around like a nice Kia Sorento or Dodge Stratus.
  • (3) Stay the course. You’re not fired. That, in itself, can be one of the highest honors a college football coach can receive.
  • (2) Fire the coordinators. You’re on thin ice. Fire some assistants and blame them on the way out the door.
  • (1) Call the movers. We appreciate your service to our program. Please clean out your desk.
  • (0) Throw the brick. You have besmirched the good name of this school and someone just threw a brick through your office window. Think Bill Curry.

It is also the official position of the Throw the Flag podcast that no one should throw bricks at any time, least of all Bill Curry. He did his best.

CLARK LEA, VANDERBILT COMMODORES

Lea went 2-10 in his first season at Vanderbilt, only beating Colorado State and Connecticut. He has the potential to perform among Vandy coaches like James Franklin or Derek Mason, but will not be around long enough for us to find out unless he improves this year. GRADE: (3) Stay the course.

BILLY NAPIER, FLORIDA GATORS

2022 will be Napier’s first year in Gainesville, but he has a long road ahead of him to fill big roster needs and contend for the division title. If Florida doesn’t finish at least third in the East, fans will start grumbling. GRADE: (3) Stay the course.

ELI DRINKWITZ, MISSOURI TIGERS

Drinkwitz has posted an 11-12 record in two years at the helm for Missouri. That’s not good. Especially for teams who aren’t Vanderbilt. It’s a far cry from the Tigers’ first two years in the conference where they won the division each time. Eli must figure something out. GRADE: (2) Fire the coordinators.

SHANE BEAMER, SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS

We love everything about Beamer. He’s the son of a special teams guru. There is nothing but potential in his second year at South Carolina. He took a mayonnaise bath after winning a bowl game. Quarterback Spencer Rattler will instantly improve his offense in 2022, and Beamer has an outside lane to win the division if everything falls into place.  GRADE: (4) Extend the contract.

JOSH HEUPEL, TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS

Another coach entering his second year, Heupel has the quarterbacking pedigree to get over the hurdles Jeremy Pruitt never could in Knoxville. He showed the qualities that NFL teams want in a coordinator in his first season and Tennessee should lock him down. GRADE: (4) Extend the contract.

KIRBY SMART, GEORGIA BULLDOGS

What can you say? He finally did it. If it weren’t for Jimbo Fisher, Kirby would be the first among Nick Saban’s assistants to beat him. This will be a pivotal year for the program, but seasons like 2021 don’t come around often for any program, let alone Georgia. Kirby should get the credit he deserves. GRADE: (5) Build the statue.

MARK STOOPS, KENTUCKY WILDCATS

Fans love him. Stoops landed Kentucky in the division’s runner-up spot in two out of the last four seasons. He’s built a respectable program over the last decade in Lexington and is coming off a 10-win season. His entire body of work isn’t spectacular, but his athletic director should lock him down for the same reasons mentioned for Heupel. GRADE: (4) Extend the contract.

BRYAN HARSIN, AUBURN TIGERS

What can we say about Bryan Harsin we haven’t already in our previous column? This season will be a marriage of forced convenience for both parties. Auburn will improve in Harsin’s second year, but they’re still staring down the barrel of an eight-win season. That won’t likely move the needle away from staying the course. GRADE: (3) Stay the course.

What did we get wrong? Let us know on Twitter or Instagram, and take a listen below to this week’s episode of Throw the Flag.

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