Below are the SEC’s top coaches looking to lead their teams to the game’s biggest stage.
1) Nick Saban — Alabama
Though Alabama came up short last year, there is no denying Saban’s job as headman of the Crimson Tide. One could argue that he is not only the SEC’s best but the best in college football. A master recruiter, Saban brings in top-tier talent year after year. As he is a five time champion with Alabama, look for Saban to get the Crimson Tide rolling and back into a championship contender.
2) Ed Orgeron — LSU
Having led LSU through a magical 2019 and its first national title since 2007, Orgeron has elevated himself into the SEC’s elite. Can he do it again in 2020? It will be that much more difficult following the losses of quarterback Joe Burrow and wideout Justin Jefferson to the NFL. LSU still has superstars in Biletnikoff award winner Ja’Marr Chase as well as the game’s best corner, Derek Stingley Jr.
3) Jimbo Fisher — Texas A&M
Give him time. Fisher, a championship winner at Florida State, has been inconsistent in College Station. But with a multitude of players returning, he should lift the Texas A&M in the win column. Look for Fisher to impact the SEC and maybe shake things up early in the year.
4) Kirby Smart — Georgia
As much of a powerhouse as Georgia has become, Smart has fallen short of the ultimate goal time and time again. But that may change this year. A defensive savant, Smart will have pass rusher Malik Herring, a lethal weapon and true leader at his disposal. Having George Pickens at wideout cannot be overlooked either. There is no reason to believe Smart will not have Georgia atop the SEC East in 2020.
5) Dan Mullen — Florida
Though Georgia should be atop the East, Florida has a shot, and Mullen may just get it done. Quarterback Kyle Trask is due for a career year. Mullen, like Smart, has reliable weapons on both sides of the ball. Do not be surprised if the Gators find themselves in the playoff rankings.
6) Mike Leach — Mississippi State
Leach knows a thing or two about offense, and the Bulldogs have the requisite pieces to be one of the SEC’s best. While Mississippi State is known for their defense, as they should be formidable in 2020, the Bulldogs offense will be the team’s leading factor this year. Expect Leach to lead Mississippi State to a respectable record, certainly better than 2019.
7) Gus Malzahn — Auburn
Auburn, underrated, is always a wildcard. And it starts with Bo Nix coming off a roller-coaster season. With Big Kat Bryant leading the way on defense, Malzahn should have the Tigers ready. But although the Tigers may upset some teams, their overall record may not be the best. But, as seen in years past, that could change, and Auburn could shock the conference.
8) Mark Stoops — Kentucky
Like Auburn, Kentucky is a hit or miss. When at his best, Stoops can have the Wildcats in position to shake up the SEC East. Can Kentucky upset both Georgia and Florida? Though it is not likely, there is always a chance. However, look for Stoops and the Wildcats to make things interesting.
As it pertains to the Bulldogs, Leach brings experience to Starkville. The Bulldogs boast a three-headed monster on offense with KJ Costello, Kylin Hill, and Osirus Mitchell. Mississippi State will be fun to watch in 2020 with Leach at the helm.