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Evaluating SEC’s Fourth-Year Head Coaches


Year four is one of the most critical years for college football head coaches. Three SEC head coaches are currently in their fourth year. Two have had success, one has not.

Bret Bielema of Arkansas and Butch Jones of Tennessee have turned their football programs around. Mark Stoops, simply, has not.

Bielema has lead his Razorbacks to a 20-20 record, starting 2-0 this season. Bielema has gone from 0-8 to 2-6 and 5-3 in SEC play in Bielema’s first there seasons. Arkansas did not make a bowl game under Bielema’s first season, but have the past two seasons. Arkansas is 2-0 under Bielema in bowl games with wins at the Texas and Liberty Bowl.

Since Jones look over the reigns at Tennessee, he has posted a record of 23-17 and started this season 2-0. After going 5-7 in his first season, Jones turned the table and took his Volunteers to two straight bowl games with a win at both the TaxSlayer and Outback Bowl.

Mark Stoops’ resume at Kentucky does not look anything like these other two coaches. Kentucky has never had a winning record under Stoops, with a 12-26 record. Despite a third straight top 30 recruiting class, Kentucky only has one win over a ranked opponent (No.25 Missouri) and no bowl game appearances.

If you could trade Stoops for either Bielema or Jones, who would you pick?

Article written by Kindsey Bernhard

Lover of dogs, sports and beer. @kindseybernhard

35 Comments for Evaluating SEC’s Fourth-Year Head Coaches

  1. TorpedoVegas
    3:16 pm September 11, 2016 Permalink

    I keep hoping to see an article about how Stoops has been axed or decided to step down. Much like UK football, I continue to be met with immense disappointment.

  2. ukkatzfan
    3:25 pm September 11, 2016 Permalink

    I would keep Stoops. Quickest minor success is not the goal.

    • Kernel Sanders
      3:48 pm September 11, 2016 Permalink

      Apparently quickest major disaster is the goal. Mission accomplished.

    • maximsm
      4:07 pm September 11, 2016 Permalink

      HAHA…keep Stoops…only the insane would keep him

    • runningunnin.454
      4:16 pm September 11, 2016 Permalink

      Agree with katzfan; we have to stay the course, as disheartening as growing pains are.
      Who would we get? Neither Strong nor Tom Herman are going to leave football paradise to come to Kentucky. I don’t think we could even persuade Klieman to leave the frozen tundra at NDSU.Don’t know about Briles; just don’t know about the perception that would create……, no matter the cost?

    • Kernel Sanders
      4:39 pm September 11, 2016 Permalink

      Growing pains? What growth? We are getting worse, not better. There comes a time to cut losses. Every week he stays employed is another week we slide deeper into the abyss. He has lost the fans and apparently lost his players. If a team has any respect and love for its coach, it simply does not allow itself to perform like we have seen the last 7 games or so…especially the last 2!!

      I hate the lame philosophy that we should stick with this coach simply because we can’t think of who would replace him! Just hire Chuck Smith from Boyle Co. Could he be worse??

    • runningunnin.454
      5:48 pm September 11, 2016 Permalink

      I still think rebuilding in the toughest conference in the country is a 6 year job. I share the frustration; but, we have to have common sense and be practical.
      Ordinarily, I would think bringing in a HS coach would be insane…do they recruit? Maybe, I seem to recall Owensboro HS used to rival UCLA in basketball recruiting.
      However, Kernel, your suggestion about Smith is not bad. He was an assistant at UK; and, I think he had something to do with recruiting as well. Or were you being facetious….it does beat some of the ideas I’ve seen last couple of days.

    • Kernel Sanders
      7:02 pm September 11, 2016 Permalink

      I don’t think it should be a 6 year rebuild (build?) job, but that’s beside the point. This team, from the last half of the season through our 0-2 start has pretty much regressed on every level.

      If we were trending upward, sure I’d say he just needs another year or 2. He is supposed to be a defensive coach, and our defense is awful. He is supposed to be a defensive back guru and they can’t even line up right. His players should be fighting for him and themselves, and they look like they don’t care.

      I don’t know what or who the answer is, but it doesn’t take a genius to see who it’s not. No offense to Chuck Smith, but yes I was being facetious.

    • ukforthewin
      8:56 pm September 11, 2016 Permalink

      You guys who talk about “building in the toughest conference in the country” are hilarious. You got beat by Conference USA’s runner up! The SEC isn’t the problem. You are bad at football. Period. No matter what conference you played in, you’d be bad.

  3. EdC
    3:33 pm September 11, 2016 Permalink

    We all know that’s easy.

    Stoops’ record is 12-26. Who hired him?
    Joker’s record was 13-24. Who hired Joker?
    Brooks’ record was 39-47 Who hired Brooks?

    The coaches are just the symptoms of the problem #FireMitch

    • maximsm
      4:08 pm September 11, 2016 Permalink

      I totally agree… Brooks was just bad hire didnt do anything

    • Kernel Sanders
      4:32 pm September 11, 2016 Permalink

      What did Brooks do? I liked him okay, but he was 39-47 overall at UK and 16-39 in the SEC. He only managed 1 year of a non-losing SEC record. Speaks volumes about how bad UK FB sucks when people act like Brooks was Bear Bryant. Lol, he was simply the “least bad” coach we’ve had in the last 40 years or whatever.

    • EdC
      7:56 pm September 11, 2016 Permalink

      Exactly Kernel. UK fans get all happy if they get to go to a bowl game earned by fans travelling more than by the team being impressive.

  4. Souf beach Lou
    3:54 pm September 11, 2016 Permalink

    Bielema’s wife

    • Catsby80
      4:18 pm September 11, 2016 Permalink

      ^^^^^^ this guy gets it…

  5. jomani
    3:54 pm September 11, 2016 Permalink

    Ask anybody who’s had to interact with Stoops outside the public eye and they’ll all tell you hes an a-hole. With the exception of a few players, they are all entitled punks. Womens bball, baseball, and football have all regressed. Mitch and stoops need to go and UK needs a culture change ASAP

  6. nagnuggts
    3:58 pm September 11, 2016 Permalink

    its not mitch’s fault that stoops cant coach… stoops has talent on this team, he just doesnt know how to coach them.. i mean seriously who would want to come and coach kentucky football. its doesnt matter if we got new AD or a new head football coach we cant get a GOOD coach to come here, it would end there coaching career.. football is a lost cause here @ Kentucky.. basketball right around the corner!!

    • BluKudzu
      4:02 pm September 11, 2016 Permalink

      Yeah, um, mitch hired him. So yeah the fact that he is coaching here, at all, is mitch’s fault.

    • nagnuggts
      4:16 pm September 11, 2016 Permalink

      yea ur right BluKudzu wasnt taking up for mitch by any means, either way mitch and stoops needs to be GONE,

    • EdC
      4:31 pm September 11, 2016 Permalink

      What is Mitch’s fault is that 100% of the 3 coaches he was responsible for hiring have losing records. It is the AD’s job to hire talent appropriate to the position. In this case the position is as an SEC caliber football coach. In that regard, even grading on a curve Mitch has FAILED since 2002.

  7. AllBall
    4:04 pm September 11, 2016 Permalink

    Either would be nice, but if I had to pick one it would be Bielema. He isn’t afraid to say what’s on his mind and seems connected to his players.

    • runningunnin.454
      4:26 pm September 11, 2016 Permalink

      Why would Bielema want to leave Arkansas; he seems to have a good thing going. I don’t think we have enough money for the coaching wish lists I’ve seen today.
      Might as well call Harbaugh or Saban.

    • Catsby80
      5:10 pm September 11, 2016 Permalink

      The question posed in the blog simply asked which coach you’d rather have out of the 3 fourth year head coaches in the SEC… I don’t think there was any implication in the post that we should go after Bielema or Jones…

  8. east-ky-boy
    4:47 pm September 11, 2016 Permalink

    Not sure why everyone is a Mitch hater. YES he made a mistake w billy Clyde (on paper he was a good choice imo). Then he redeemed himself. No one is perfect. Joker was a great choice in theory and it didn’t work. As far as stoops, I’m a 12 year straight season ticket holder and I’ve missed ONE game n 12 years and I live in pikeville , I REFUSE to leave any game until the buzzer sounds and I am very dissatisfied to say the least. But let’s say we do fire him (we won’t this year because of 12 million dollars ) who do we get that’s head and shoulders above him that would ACTUALLY come here??? No one!

    • ukforthewin
      8:57 pm September 11, 2016 Permalink

      Art Briles. Man, you guys are dim.

    • east-ky-boy
      10:18 pm September 11, 2016 Permalink

      First off, what does “dim” have to do with anything? Secondly, art shouldn’t be allowed to coach for years imo

  9. bluecat15
    5:06 pm September 11, 2016 Permalink

    I refuse to support the UK athletic department until Stoops is fired!! Will not spend one more cent on ANY sporting event,apparel, or anything related. My voice means absolutely nothing, but my money means everything doesn’t it Mitch?

  10. channell
    5:28 pm September 11, 2016 Permalink

    Uk hasn’t had a winning program in decades, so what’s the problem? They could have hired a coach that would cost less money so if you are going to loose consistently, why not do it cheaper. Loosing is loosing. The talent level from what I read is above average so it must be coaching. I will admit we had mid major talent or less when Stoops came but he has recruited well on paper. It’s sad to say that Louisville is the dominate program in the state except for basketball. Ky is the states university. So sad.

    • ukforthewin
      8:58 pm September 11, 2016 Permalink

      WKU owns UK too. Eastern pretty darn close. The nation laughs at UK football.

  11. Willis talkin bout....
    5:36 pm September 11, 2016 Permalink

    Until the boosters or serious money doners want change. Nothing will. I wish the SEC profit sharing was performance based on non-conference records. That’ kinda money would bring instant change. Till then we are stuck with bottom feeder coaches hired by an AD that doesn’t have to answer to anyone because the school still gets paid.

    • Luether
      6:23 pm September 11, 2016 Permalink

      Sorry, but don’t think the problem is money. That’s what Democrats say about EVERY problem. If only we spent $20 trillion on government programs instead of only $17 trillion – everything would be fine. That’s BS. Somewhere along the line, personal responsibility, competence and accountability need to enter the equation…

    • Willis talkin bout....
      6:33 pm September 11, 2016 Permalink

      Huh? Was stating that if sucking at football was costing the school SEC profit sharing money. They would take it more serious. As it stands now. We get paid for just fielding a team. Not sure how polical party affiliations play into that. Cause I’m neither. But I assume you think we should have Trump as the head coach. Maybe. He will prolly be available in a few months.

  12. Bulldawg
    6:22 pm September 11, 2016 Permalink

    Shuld have hired Petrino… Cats would be going g to 3rd straight bowl game. But Kentucky football had this holier than thou approach. How’s Petrino doing at UofL, by the way?

    • cats paw
      6:56 pm September 11, 2016 Permalink

      preach it!!!! all these sunshine pumpers are just to scared to admit they were wrong! if he was anywhere but Louisville they wouldnt care a bit about his past. much like they have embraced Cal which is considered the cheatingest coach in college by all other schools

    • ukforthewin
      8:59 pm September 11, 2016 Permalink

      Hookers! Motorcycles! Oh god, anything to not have to think about Bobby and Lamar dropping 70 on us this season.