Daily Mountain Eagle
Members of the Daily Mountain Eagle staff are ranking the SEC coaches in order, from 1 to 14, starting this week.
Publisher James Phillips, Sports Editor Johnathan Bentley, Sports Writer W. Brian Hale and New Media Coordinator Jeffery Winborne are releasing Nos. 11 to 14 this week.
Today we look at Phillips’ and Bentley’s bottom four.
The two have the same four coaches on their list — South Carolina’s Will Muschamp, Vanderbilt’s Derek Mason, Missouri’s Eli Drinkwitz and Arkansas’ Sam Pittman.
Here is a look at the their bottom four.
11. Derek Mason — Vanderbilt
I like Vanderbilt. The Commodores are easy to cheer for because they aren’t expected to ever do anything positive on the gridiron. I feel like Derek Mason is a good coach, but following James Franklin was difficult and keeping up with the academic standards at Vandy is even more difficult. This will probably be his last season in Nashville, but I give Mason the edge over the other three.
12. Will Muschamp — South Carolina
Will Muschamp seems to be known more for being a head case than a head coach. We all remember him screaming his face off as an assistant coach during an Iron Bowl more than for any actual head coaching victories. South Carolina regressed last season, and I probably wouldn’t even be talking about him if the Gamecocks had not upset Georgia in 2019.
13. Eli Drinkwitz — Missouri
The only reason Eli Drinkwitz is higher than Sam Pittman on my rankings is because he had a stellar year in 2019 as the head coach of Appalachian State, leading the Mountaineers to a 12-1 record and a Sun Belt championship. That Sun Belt title is great, but Drinkwitz is where the big boys play now. The SEC, even the East, is so far above the Sun Belt that Drinkwitz may be in over his head.
14. Sam Pittman — Arkansas
Sam Pittman hasn’t been a head coach since I was a freshman in high school, and he didn’t have an impressive record at that time, going 11-9-1 over two seasons at Hutchinson Community College. Arkansas probably has less talent than any other SEC team, and they play in the SEC West. While I think Pittman has the heart and fire to get the team to play hard, it won’t be enough to add up to many wins.
11. Will Muschamp — South Carolina
South Carolina had one of the biggest upsets of the season in 2019, winning at No. 3 Georgia in double overtime. The rest of the season was utterly forgettable as the Gamecocks didn’t make a bowl game and scored just 24 points in the last three games combined, losses to Appalachian State, Texas A&M and Clemson. Since winning nine games in 2017, Muschamp has led the team to seven wins and four wins over the last two years. Another four-win season could end his tenure in Columbia. Muschamp’s early success at South Carolina was a surprise. Now we are getting what I expected all along.
12. Eli Drinkwitz — Missouri
Scott Satterfield built Appalachian State into one of the top group of five schools in the nation before heading to Louisville. Then Eli Drinkwitz followed for one year and didn’t mess it up. He parlayed that one good season — the Mountaineers went 13-1 in 2019 — into an SEC job, taking over for Barry Odom at Missouri. The Tigers were all over the place last year, finishing 6-6 after a 5-1 start. The schedule is manageable this year, but Drinkwitz is largely unproven, especially entering the SEC.
13. Derek Mason — Vanderbilt
After finishing at or near the .500 mark in three consecutive seasons, Vanderbilt took a huge step backward in 2019, winning just three games. The losses weren’t particularly close as the Commodores had trouble scoring points. Vanderbilt averaged just 12.8 points per conference game with the bulk coming in a 66-38 loss to national champ LSU. If the team isn’t more competitive in 2020 this could be Mason’s last season in Nashville. Also, last year’s season was the worst for Vanderbilt since the Robbie Caldwell debacle of 2010.
14. Sam Pittman — Arkansas
The new Arkansas coach comes in last on this list because, well, he’s the Arkansas coach. He inherits a team that has lost 19 straight SEC games and is 4-20 over the last two years. Pittman has not only never been a head coach, but he’s never been a coordinator at the Division I level. If Pittman can get the Razorbacks to 3 or 4 wins — and maybe beat an SEC team — I would consider that a good season.