The Picks: SEC coaches feeling the heat

FILE - These are file photos showing college football coaches, from left, Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn, Tennessee head coach Butch Jones and Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin. The Southeastern Conference coaches who entered the season with questions about their job security haven't done much to quiet them. In fact, the heat from fans has intensified. (AP Photo/File)

The SEC has this marketing slogan that you have heard a million times with that young lady walking into your living room telling you … “It Just Means More.”

It’s an easy target for SEC bashers when something goes wrong, but it certainly is an accurate statement.

Think about it this way — of the 14 schools in the conference, 10 of them have had at least part of the fan base that has wanted the head coach to be fired at some point this season.

Not Alabama, of course (the fan base may be crazy, but not that crazy). Or Georgia. South Carolina fans may not have wanted Will Muschamp at first, but they have warmed up to him. Mississippi State fans know Dan Mullen didn’t hire Jimmy Sexton to negotiate a better deal to stay, but they hope he does.

The others?

• Arkansas: Bret Bielema is now 10-25 in SEC games and his seat is getting warmer than a Fayetteville sidewalk in the summer.

• Auburn: You blow a 20-point lead in a place where you haven’t won this century and the lunatic fringe gets pretty loud.

• Florida: Gator fans are not happy with consecutive home losses and another year of bad offense.

• Kentucky: What? The Wildcats are 5-1. But you should have heard the call-in shows after Mark Stoops’ team left two wide receivers uncovered against Florida.

• LSU: They’re back in Ed Orgeron’s corner now, but after Troy it was so noisy that everyone started checking his buyout.

• Ole Miss: Only a miracle finish is going to allow Matt Luke to continue after this “interim” season.

• Missouri: Barry Odom has the worst defense in the conference and it feels inevitable that his stint is a short one.

• Tennessee: Speaking of inevitable.

• Texas A&M: Kevin Sumlin seems to have righted the ship, but after the opening loss remember how even a regent went public with his desire to have him fired. And he’s not out of the woods yet.

• Vanderbilt: Four straight losses during which you allow one point shy of 200 will turn a fan base pretty quickly.

It Just Means More.

Fortunately, Dr. Football rallied so The Picks will not be fired. A 9-1 week (now 47-23 for the season) was much needed and perhaps I should take the bye week off. But that’s not how it works.

TENNESSEE AT ALABAMA: Who has Sunday in the Butch Jones firing pool? Is it possible the Vols could go 0-8 in the SEC? Alabama, 38-13.

MICHIGAN AT PENN STATE: As crazy as college football has been, you could see Mr. Khaki Pants pulling this one off. Right? Nah. Penn State, 28-19.

LOUISVILLE AT FSU: Nobody can explain Louisville giving up 45 to the Fighting Addazios last week. FSU, 27-21.

SYRACUSE AT MIAMI: The amazing thing is that both Mark Richt’s old team and his new team are unbeaten. Miami has just made it more interesting in its wins. Miami, 34-24.

KENTUCKY AT MISSISSIPPI STATE: Big game for Stoopsie. Don’t count the Wildcats out of the race in the SEC East. OK, now you can. Mississippi State, 23-21.

LSU AT OLE MISS: There has to be a letdown for the Tigers after last week and the emotional win over Florida the week before. And yet … LSU, 27-17.

USC AT NOTRE DAME: This might be the biggest game of the week and the most difficult to pick. USC is just too erratic. Notre Dame, 30-28.

AUBURN AT ARKANSAS: Memo to Gus Malzahn — stay out of the offensive playcalling. Your ego will survive. Auburn, 34-21.

OKLAHOMA STATE AT TEXAS: The Cowboys still have a shot at the playoff. I think. Oklahoma State, 38-28.

UCF AT NAVY: UCF leads the nation in scoring. Enjoy Scott Frost while you have him. UCF, 30-21.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at And follow at


  1. ”Florida: Gator fans are not happy with consecutive home losses and another year of bad offense.”
    Pat, ”not happy”? Well, you could have said, Florida’s Franks hasn’t thrown a T.D. since Sept.., or Florida hasn’t thrown double-digit (like 10 or more) T.D.’s all season, and it’s already half way over!
    It’s just that ”bad offense” doesn’t really seem to get to the heart of the matter, does it?
    It’s been 7 years of ”bad offense”! That’s 84 months! And I don’t know, but calling us, ”Gidiots”, and/or ”Wacko-club”, because that seems to ”bother us unfairly” -in your mind- really isn’t fair at all!
    But I guess, that’s only accurate ‘IF’ you’re completely honest with Gator fans, and the ”real numbers”. And not simply just blame ”Gator fans for being unhappy”.

  2. Gator fans want a “real” coach, not some huckster from the backwoods who does not know what”real” football is. First the administration gives us coach Muschump, then they give us a cheesy side dish with coach Mac and Cheese. Enough with these coach wannabe’s. Hire a “real” coach. The players deserves it, the fans deserve it, and the school deserves it. Bring Gator football back to greatness.

    • This Gator fan would like to have one season without multiple injuries to starters or suspensions to the best players on offense to actually see what this coach can do before starting all over again, especially since this coach has 2 top 5 recruiting classes lined up and finally a QB coming in who looks like he might be legit. The fire Mac fans need to realize he isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, cause the people who call the shots aren’t blind to reality like the fans are. All the negativity is going to do is turn off potential recruits.

      • The only reality we see is an offense, in 3 seasons, which is yet to crack the top 100. Didn’t Mac recruit every QB we have on the roster, as well as take the two transfers we have on the roster? Did we have 9 suspended players last year or the year before? We see that Mac recruited the 9 suspended players, only two would’ve helped the offense, and we haven’t missed a beat at RB, meaning only one would make a difference. And that one should’ve been booted off the team long ago. And I’m guessing the putrid offense is more of a turn off to recruits than the fans complaining about the putrid offense!

      • Exactly, friends, coaches, and …
        injuries equals conditioning.

        Strength coach!

        Injuries weren’t an issue back pre ‘08, like they have been since ‘08.

        Injuries have plagued Florida, since tebow left, interesting…who has been the strength coach since then?

    • Don’t quit your day job; comedy is not your strong suit. Perhaps you would like to try your hand at coaching missing around fifteen percent of your scholarship roster.

      Losing isn’t fun and nobody likes it. But if you think all of those missing players is not a huge handicap then you’re pretty thick.

  3. • Kentucky: What? The Wildcats are 5-1. But you should have heard the call-in shows after Mark Stoops’ team left two wide receivers uncovered against Florida.

    • Tennessee: Speaking of inevitable.

    I guess we can take some pride in these two. The Tenn win doesn’t mean so much after the two home loses but at the time it was oh so sweet.

  4. Who are all these so called “Gator Fans”? All I hear is a bunch of spoiled whinny brats. Boo hoo hoo, we lost some games – guess what? There is a chance to loss every time we play. There’s also a chance to win. That what makes it fun! Try enjoying the game, whether we win or loose. (in all types of weather) Wanna help this team and its coach out? Stop crying about everything like a soar loser. Show some gamesmanship. We expect our players to show some class after a loss, how about our fans? You can point to whomever you want to for the losses, but our boys play hard – every week. Let’s try encouraging our team. How is going on social media and cursing out Franks going to help his confidence? Now, I’m not sure, but I bet a team and a coaching staff that has the support of its fans – and they deserve it – would do better on the field and on the recruiting trail. The way these so called “Gator Fans” are acting is shameful. I hope our players and coaches know that there are a lot of true Gator fans pulling for them and appreciate all the hard work. – Go Gators!

    • Wasn’t gonna say it but…they sound like a bunch of ANTIFA punks that just had their Starbucks hours cut back. The constant whining on this site is a real turnoff for us older guys. I don’t like it any more than the rest of you but good God man…RELAX!

    • The big difference between Houston and Florida is the fact their QB sees the entire field and the majority of their passes are 10-15 yards down field or vertical….The majority of Florida passes are at the line of scrimmage or behind it …most of UF’s passes are horizontal to the line of scrimmage and mostly bubble screens, or the receivers run out 3-4 yards on these crazy little curls, standing still where their back is to the goal post…Nuss’s, passing scheme drives me crazy…and they wonder why they can’t make first downs or move the ball down field consistently ….every team in the league knows that our bread band butter pass is the bubble screen…after Muschamp left I was hoping would never see that pass again…but, here we are…after watching Houston you can see a clear difference in our passing scheme verses theirs…I must say I’m disappointed in Mac…he’s more interested in his relationship with Nuss rather than the well being of the University of Florida…at this point in time Nuss has to go!!

    • I totally agree with everything you said Chris. These so called fans who cowardly bash our players on social media are probably some of the very ones who probably went around bragging during the years of Spurrier and Meyer when we won our National Champships as if they should take the credit for it. Now, we are no longer competing for a National Championship but I for one am still a proud Gator who will continue to cheer my team on. Sure, they are going to make mistakes but they play their hearts out. In my opinion any finger pointing should be done toward the coaches. They’re certainly being paid enough to produce better results. Meanwhile I will continue to cheer for my Gators!!

    • Chris,
      I always laugh at the Gator fans who claim “greater fandom” because they accept the status-quo instead of speaking out on the obvious deficiencies the team faces.

      That’s just stupid.

      If the fans are bitching while we have an Urban Meyer or Steve Spurrier at the helm, well yes, your arguments have merit.

      It’s LITERALLY been 7 years since we have had an AVERAGE offense. How you become an apologist for this team is truly inconceivable.

      Claiming you are a “better fan” because you stick your head in the stand while waving pom-poms, is just stupid. Did I say that already?

  5. he Gator Fan base has a well earned reputation of running our head coaches out of town. SOS and Myer left because of the constant negativity that permeates the fan base. Mac has done good job with infastructure and recruiting. He made changes to the coaching staff to fo the same this year. We also had difficult when looking for a new coach of getting our first choice.Why would a top of the line coach want to emerse themselves in that type of environment? Beware Gatr Nation we might get change but that change may not yeild the results we want. I do not know the details of Mac’s contract but I’m sure their is a buyout situation that would make it difficult for hin to leave early. However I can understand him wanting to leave. We think just becuase we love the the Gators that coaches lined up for the gig. It is doubtful any coach in America could have made this team good based on the circumstances that has played out this season. I believe the offense has been conservative by design to shorten the games and give us a chance in the fourth quater to sreel a victory. I personly do not agree with that philosophy but I understand the logic behind it. We had 2 great coaches since I have been watching the Gators for 49 years. I think Mac has alot going for him. Caution Karma can be a bitch. As for what is happening on the feild this direct result of the NINE and QB who is not ready. Yet we have been in every game except Mich. inspite of poor playing calling and lack luster special teams. The Mich game was one that the we had to throw out the game plan out 48 hours before kick off after practicing a certain way all camp. Gator Fans call them excuses and they may be, but like it or not they are also facts.

    • I remember reading or hearing something back in the Spurrier days that it would be well into a QB’s 3rd year before he had the offence down pat. I just thought that was incredible that it would take that long to learn Spurrier’s playbook and how to run it. I’ve never forgotten that when seeing the long line of QB’s coming through the different systems here in Gainesville. And I’ve often wondered, were Spurrier’s offences that complicated that it took 3 years to grasp, or did he think it took that long to go from high school fenom to SEC caliber QB, or are all the other offensive schemes that have come through here so much more simplistic than what SOS was running? That’s just something that runs through my head when I see the type thing we are seeing now in a young Franks,(I realize Franks’ inability to see the field has nothing to do with the playbook, at least I don’t think so), or a myriad of other QB’s since Spurrier left.

    • 1. “Mac has done good job with infrastructure and recruiting.”
      A. infrastructure, yes, recruiting, no. We have been scooping up the 4-stars that have academic and behavior issues at the last moment to scrape out “descent” recruiting classes.

      2.” Why would a top of the line coach want to immerse themselves in that type of environment?”
      A. They wouldn’t. Take a job at Arizona, live life, never buy a meal or get a speeding ticket as long as you get 8 wins a year.

      3. “However I can understand him wanting to leave.”
      A. Mac does NOT want to leave. His only options in coaching, not having ANY success at UF is Tulane and Duke. Mac needs to have a good season before he thinks about leaving.

      4. “It is doubtful any coach in America could have made this team good based on the circumstances that has played out this season.”
      A. Well that’s simply not true. Richt is undefeated in year two, Kirby Smart is going to the championship in year two … the list goes on. This simply isn’t true.

      5. “I believe the offense has been conservative by design to shorten the games and give us a chance in the fourth quarter to steal a victory.”

      A. The offense has been conservative because they lack the ability to grasp a larger playbook, Mac has failed at installing a system that grooms and builds QB’s and the offense.

      6. “I think Mac has a lot going for him.”
      A. If you’re talking about his salary, then yes. If you’re talking about his coaching prospects, well he has one foot back in Colorado State, Tulane, Duke …

      7. “As for what is happening on the field this direct result of the NINE and QB who is not ready”
      A. And exactly who’s fault do you think it is that we have a culture that allows 10 players to be caught up in a credit card fraud case and a 2nd year red-shirt Sophomore is not ready to play ball?

      • Gotta laugh at #7…when you say “we”, surely you mean this country and not UF football? To insinuate Mac created a culture here that allows players to commit felony crimes at will is just stupid. I’ll say it again…”you can take the brutha’s outa the hood, but you can’t take the hood outa the brutha’s.” There is a snippet every single day in my newspaper about college players committing big time crimes in this country. Sorry, Mac might not run a great offence but he aint got nuthin to do with the stuff the Knucklehead Nine did.

  6. I wonder what was the record of the team before Jim McElwain got to UF? What’s been the record since? How much time has he had? How good have the QBs been that he’s had to work with? How many players does he have this year?

  7. Mark Richt is doing a hell f a job at Miami. My point was if Mark Richt was at UF this year given the conditions I don’t feel his record would be better than than it is. I agree play calliing is terrible but I believe the over all coaching philosophy is try to keep it close and win late. I also acknowledged it is one I like.
    Recruiting is trending up and thats a great thing because great players make great plays. As for his past recruiting 1st year he just held together a class recruited by Muschamp. 2nd year he did a better job job, 3rd year he did great until poor decisions by eighteen year old kids turned it into a poorly ranked class. You can blame Mac for that if you want I personally don’t find that a reasonable stance. I’m not here to persuade anyone I’m just expressing my views. My view is Nord & Nuss must go. I also feel the fastest way back to relavance is to stay the course with Mac.
    Lastly my bringing up Mac leaving was from a interview he did expressing his frustrations and that he felt underappreciated.

  8. Mac held the first recruiting class together. He lost Byron Cowart and Dooley and UF fans panicked and cried to Fienbaum. Byron Cowart became a total bust. The number one player in the country. In his junior year he made three tackles with AU. Then he transfered. But circling back Mac was blamed for Cowart’s departure. You judge Mac by hindsight. I return the favor and judge you fools by hindsight.

    Grier is another example. Bear Bryant and Vince Lombardi would have handled Grier Mac the same as Mac did. All of the criticism of Mac on this point is foolish.

    Mac has made some mistakes this year. But, I liked it better when there were a lot of mythical titles and the wealth of coaches was spread around more. I liked it better when MOST coaches had 7 years to be evaluated.