SEC football schedule created ‘contentious’ coaches call

sec football schedule

Nothing gets you ready for the college football season quite like some controversy in the SEC and for the first time in 2020, the world felt normal again. Yahoo’s Pete Thamel reported at least five SEC head coaches expressed frustration after not receiving much of an explanation as to how the new 10-game conference schedule was decided.

Did the SEC give its best teams preferential treatment? Of course it did. That’s how the league has operated and will continue to operate. The SEC is the best of the big boy conferences, and its top teams are aided by scheduling advantages. Combine those two factors and you’ll understand why the SEC has been in the College Football Playoff every year since it started and is the only conference to have two teams in the Playoff in a single year.

Sometimes it’s hard to see the slight scheduling edge, but the SEC didn’t even try to hide it with this one. No other details were reported as to which coaches were the most upset, but I think we’re smart enough as college football fans to figure out who it could’ve been.

I ranked the SEC head coaches 1-14 on who should be the most upset with his team’s revamped schedule.

1. Eliah Drinkwitz - Missouri

  • Alabama (Home)
  • LSU (Away)

Holy hell. Welcome to the SEC, Eliah Drinkwitz. He earned this job by beating up on the Sun Belt at Appalachian State in first year as a head coach. Louisiana-Monroe doesn’t appear on the schedule this year, but two of the best teams in the sport sure do. Drinkwitz has every right to be upset by this and if he’s a Christmas card guy, none of them should be send to the SEC offices.

2. Sam Pittman - Arkansas

  • Georgia (Home)
  • Florida (Away)

First-year head coaches are receiving zero respect early on as Sam Pittman now has a schedule that features Alabama, LSU, Auburn, Florida and Texas A&M. This could very easily be an 0-10 team in year 1, and the SEC is partially to blame. “Poor Sam Pittman” will be a phrase heard every year when talking about Arkansas until he’s fired after a few years just like the rest of ’em.

3. Jeremy Pruitt - Tennessee

  • Texas A&M (Home)
  • Auburn (Away)

I would be absolutely stunned if Jeremy Pruitt is not one of the five coaches to be upset about the schedule release. He seems to be a guy who could find a reason to get mad at anything, and the SEC sent him two games Tennessee will be underdogs in. The Volunteers were among the winners in pandemic recruiting but one of the losers in the new SEC schedule.

4. Jimbo Fischer - Texas A&M

  • Florida (Home)
  • Tennessee (Away)

Is this the year for Texas A&M? You can find articles with this headline every season since the program started. Jimbo Fischer’s team had a favorable schedule that I thought could lead to a 10-0 start. That was before non-conference play was canceled and games with Florida and Tennessee were added. Is next year the year for Texas A&M?

5. Mark Stoops - Kentucky

  • Ole Miss (Home)
  • Alabama (Away)

Kentucky football very recently became a respectable program under Mark Stoops, but it’s apparently not good enough to be treated like the big boys. Any road game at Alabama is damn near guaranteed to be a loss no matter the team, but a home matchup with Ole Miss should be fun.

6. Derek Mason - Vanderbilt

  • LSU (Home)
  • Mississippi State (Away)

Just take one look at Derek Mason and you’ll notice immediately he’ll kick your ass at any moment. I would’ve thought Vanderbilt would’ve received a worse draw than this, but that likely factored in and it’s why Mississippi State was added instead of Alabama. The spread against LSU could reach the 30s, and the Commodores should be handled fairly easily by Mississippi State. Not because Mississippi State is expected to be all that great but because it’s Vanderbilt. I’m sorry, Derek. I didn’t mean it.

7. Will Muschamp - South Carolina

  • Auburn (Home)
  • Ole Miss (Away)

Will Muschamp had to be in a fairly bad mood during the call as he’s in desperation mode to putting together a productive season. The SEC handed him a loss to Auburn and a tricky one at Ole Miss, which seems like a wild card in 2020.

8. Mike Leach - Mississippi State

  • Vanderbilt (Home)
  • Georgia (Away)

If I had to guess, Mike Leach turned the contentious conference call into a broader discussion on whether aliens would make good house guests at his new home in Starkville. This is far and away the most obvious 1-1 situation. A win at Georgia or a home loss to Vanderbilt would both be equally as stunning.

9. Gus Malzahn - Auburn

  • Tennessee (Home)
  • South Carolina (Away)

Gus Malzahn’s best seasons come in odd years and while 2020 is certainly an odd year, it’s an even numbered year where his Auburn Tigers haven’t met expectations. He could be mad about his fan base calling for him to no longer be employed on a daily basis despite his success, but Malzahn probably wasn’t too upset with his team’s draw.

10. Lane Kiffin - Ole Miss

  • South Carolina (Home)
  • Kentucky (Away)

Is Ole Miss going to be good? Are the Rebels going to stink? Is Lane Kiffin a good head coach? Nobody knows anything about this team, which is why the SEC gave them two of the most average teams in he conference. Kiffin strikes me as more of an instigator through a well-timed tweet guy than he is a confrontational guy.

11. Nick Saban - Alabama

  • Kentucky (Home)
  • Missouri (Away)

It’s Nick Saban. The SEC is going to do anything it can to make him happy. However, it’s still possible he caused a stir during the conference call since Alabama received the second easiest two-game schedule in the SEC West instead of the easiest. Just don’t let it happen again, SEC schedule makers.

12. Dan Mullen - Florida

  • Arkansas (Home)
  • Texas A&M (Away)

Dan Mullen might’ve been angry about a road matchup with Texas A&M, but the frustration likely simmered when he saw Arkansas at home. How could a team with a game at Texas A&M be considered the third easiest? Because the Razorbacks are going to be that bad.

13. Kirby Smart - Georgia

  • Mississippi State (Home)
  • Arkansas (Away)

When you are at the top of your division year in and year out, you get this type of treatment. Kirby Smart is looking for his fourth straight SEC East division title, and Arkansas and Mississippi State will not stand in his way of doing it once again. No way he had any issues with this schedule.

14. Ed Orgeron - LSU

  • Missouri (Home)
  • Vanderbilt (Away)

What’s the reward for winning a national title? A trophy along with a matchup with the worst Power 5 team in the sport and another with a first-year head coach during a pandemic. Oh, and some cash from Odell Beckham Jr. No arguments from Ed Orgeron.

Take a look at 11-14. Those four teams are the highest ranked four teams in the SEC with the fifth highest checking in at No. 9.

To the four first-year head coaches in the SEC, welcome. This is how this works. The conference sets up its top teams to succeed more than any other league. Need proof? Alabama adds Kentucky and Missouri, while the Big Ten eliminates every team from Ohio State’s schedule.

Things are done a little differently down South and it’s working, so this will not change.

MSU Athletic Communications photo