The SEC has seen big changes to the crop of coaches in the conference over the last few seasons, with schools that are generally considered football schools making a concerted effort to improve the standing of their basketball programs. While John Calipari and others are safe in their job status, not many coaches has the same job security going forward. We broke down the status of every coach in the SEC heading into the season. The categories are Ice Cold, Not In Jeopardy, Heating Up, Hot, The Honeymoon Phase, First Year Coaches, and Safe But Could Warm Due To NCAA Issues.
John Calipari (Kentucky)
Career Record: 750-211
Record at Kentucky: 305-71
A national championship in 2012, 4 final fours, and 3 elite eights in 10 years to go with always hovering around 30 wins a year and 38 draft picks is a recipe for job security. The only way Calipari leaves Kentucky is for the opportunity to coach again the NBA which lead to those rumors every summer, and so far they have stayed just rumors.
Rick Barnes (Tennessee)
Career Record: 692-364
Record at Tennessee: 88-50
Barnes took over a program coming off of sanctions, and he has brought the Volunteers back to the level of success they saw under former coach Bruce Pearl. Tennessee won 29 games and the regular season championship in 2017-2018 and then followed it up with a 31 win year in 2018-2019 before losing in the Elite Eight. The administration has to be happy with the quick turnaround after back to back down years to start off the Barnes era.
Not in jeopardy:
Ben Howland (Mississippi State)
Career Record: 477-264
Record at Mississippi State: 78-56
Howland had success at UCLA but the expectations in Westwood are off the charts, not so much the case in Starkville. Entering his fifth season, the team has steadily improved culminating in making the NCAA tournament last year. If you can win 20 to 25 games a year while consistently playing in the postseason at Mississippi State, you should have no problem with holding onto your job.
Frank Martin (South Carolina)
Career Record: 246-160
Record at South Carolina: 129-106
Martin took over a program that had not had much success and slowly built a winning culture. The Gamecocks improved in the winning column every year in his first five seasons on the job, culminating with a Final Four appearance in 2017. If you look at his body of work as a whole, the Final Four year was the teams only NCAA tournament appearance in seven seasons total. Since their 26 win year in 2016-2017 they took a step back and have gone 17-16 two years ago, and 16-16 last year. If the team has a repeat of the last two seasons this year then we could see Martin have his job performance being called into question by the administration.
Mike White (Florida)
Career Record: 190-93
Record at Florida: 89-53
White took over for Billy Donovan when he headed to the NBA, and it is never easy to follow up a coach that has had that type of success. Add in the fact that basketball often takes a backseat to the programs football program leading to a tough job, although the draw of the sunshine state does help in recruiting. White has not been able to sustain the same level of winning that happened under Donovan but again those are loft expectations to live up to. The Gators won 27 games and went to a Elite Eight in 2017 followed with a 21 and 20 win season, both ending with a second round loss. Coming into this season he should be leading one of the top teams in college basketball with the amount of talent on the roster so he will have a chance to get the program back to the Final Four.
Still In The Honeymoon Phase:
Kermit Davis (Mississippi)
Career Record: 423-251
Record at Mississippi: 20-13
Ole Miss hovered around 20 wins a season under Andy Kennedy but that was not enough leading to Kermit Davis taking over in last season. He inherited a team that had a talented backcourt that led the team to 20 wins and an appearance in the NCAA tournament where they lost in the first round. Kennedy was kept on for 12 seasons so the school has shown it is willing to patient and allow a coach to built the program, so he should get a few more seasons before being considered a success or on the hot seat.
Tom Crean (Indiana)
Career Record: 367-252
Record at Indiana: 11-21
Crean had success at Indiana but the expectations in Bloomington is championships, something that he was unable to bring. Last season was not a great start with 11 wins, but he took over a program that struggled to get to the postseason under Mark Fox. His 2019 recruiting class was loaded with many of those freshman expected to major contributors this season, especially potential 2020 #1 overall draft pick Anthony Edwards. Considering the amount of talent on the roster this season the fans will want to see Georgia not only win games but get to the NCAA tournament. This year will also be big for Crean on the recruiting trail making it much easier to sell the program with a season proving they can be competitive against the top teams in college basketball.
Cuonzo Martin (Missouri)
Career Record: 221-151
Record at Missouri: 35-30
Martin has had some bad luck since arriving at Missouri after recruiting the Michael Porter Jr., and Jontay Porter duo to campus leading many to pick them as a dark horse contender heading into the 2017-2018 season. Neither highly regarded of the Porters were able to stay healthy enough to make a big impact and the team as a whole has been average since Martin took over the job. Last season ended with a 15-17 record and although he still could be in the honeymoon phase, another year under .500 could lead to a quick trigger from the administration.
First Year Coaches:
Nate Oats (Alabama)
Career Record: 96-43
Avery Johnson was given four years to build the team but he just could not get the program over the hump and become competitive nationally. Oats was able to do that at Buffalo having the Bulls ranked in the top 25 last season and making three NCAA tournament appearances in three of our four years on the job. There will be some expectations to win this year with a solid recruiting class joining the roster, but as long as Oats can continue to do what he did at Buffalo he should have the Crimson Tide becoming one of the better teams in the SEC. Given his track record there is no reason to think that he can not build a winning culture in Tuscaloosa, but this is going to much more difficult than the MAC.
Eric Musselman (Arkansas)
Career Record: 110-34
Musselman stepped in and for the most part immediately had Nevada not only competing within the conference but being one of the top teams in the country. He takes over a program that can have success but it is an uphill climb with the 2019 recruiting class being a good start. Musselman utilized transfers very well while with the Wolfpack so it will be interesting to see if he continues to use that route going forward.
Jerry Stackhouse (Vanderbilt)
Career Record: 0-0
Entering his first season as a head coach on the college level after spending time in the NBA and the G League since 2015, Stackhouse led the Raptors G League team the championship in 2017. Having a long career playing in the league at a high level to go with multiple seasons coaching gives him not only name recognition but also a upper hand selling recruits on preparing players for the next level. Vanderbilt has tough academic requirements which always makes the job more difficult, so he will have somewhat tampered expectations to start his tenure.
Buzz Williams (Texas A&M)
Career Record: 253-155
Williams returns to Texas where he grew up and attended college after building Virginia Tech into a competitive team within the ACC, making the NCAA tournament the last three seasons with the Hokies. Billy Kennedy had some success on the job but it was not consistent enough to stay at the helm, something that is easier said than done. Williams has been able to change the culture and win at both of coaching stops with Marquette and Virginia Tech, so given the resources he will have with the Aggies there is a good chance the same if not more success will occur.
Safe But Could Warm Due To NCAA Issues:
Bruce Pearl (Auburn)
Career Record: 331-171
Record at Auburn: 100-72
Pearl was one of the top coaches in the country at Tennessee before dealing with sanctions that ultimately cost him his job. While the situation with the NCAA is much different that Auburn is dealing with, but Pearl has similarly taken the Tigers to the next level, much the same that he did in Knoxville. The team went to the Final Four last season winning 30 games so his job on the court has exceeded expectations and most reports coming out around the investigation say there will be no additional sanctions or anything like that coming to Auburn. Nonetheless the NCAA works at a slow pace so only time will tell, but as long as this is not an ongoing issue he has nothing to worry about regarding his job security.
Will Wade (LSU)
Career Record: 137-67
Record at LSU: 46-22
On the court Wade led the Tigers to a 28 win season and an SEC regular season championship, which is obviously a very good season. Off of the court he reportedly was recorded by the FBI talking about an offer to pay a recruit to choose the school, which is obviously not very good. It resulted in his suspension and then a reinstatement that added stipulations to his contract, so it is safe to say that he is on thin ice in that regard. It is always tough for an administration to deal with possible sanctions while the coach continues to win games and recruit at a high level like Wade has been doing. Much like Pearl, Wade has been confident in interviews that there is not a notice of allegations coming to LSU and if that is the case he will be staying in Louisiana.