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SEC a hot spot for football coaches in 2017

By: Wally Hall
Published: Thursday, October 19, 2017
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn, left, talks with Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema before an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn, left, talks with Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema before an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Saturday's critical game between the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville and Auburn could be the Hot Seat Bowl.

Bret Bielema fell from the No. 1 spot on to No. 2. Apparently losing to Alabama by 32 is better than losing to South Carolina by six. Tennessee's Butch Jones, who lost to the Gamecocks 15-9, moved in to the No. 1 spot on the website's list of coaches on the hot seat.

Auburn's Gus Malzahn is now No. 8 on the list after a meltdown at LSU that saw a 20-0 lead become a 27-23 loss.

Auburn is a great school in a beautiful setting, but it may have the most fickle fans in the world. Of course, the Tigers Nation is having to live in the shadow of Alabama and its football program, which is the most successful in the country the past decade.

Throwing out Nick Saban's first season when the Tide was on probation, he is 119-13 overall and 68-8 in SEC play.

The Auburn faithful read and hear about that on a daily basis.

Remember this is the school that wanted to fire Tommy Tuberville a season before the Tigers went undefeated in 2004, then fired Gene Chizik two seasons after winning the national championship in 2010.

Actually, half the coaches in the SEC are on the website's list for coaches who are on a hot seat, including No. 5 Barry Odom (Missouri), No. 21 Kevin Sumlin (Texas A&M), No. 22 Jim McElwain (Florida) and No. 24 Ed Orgeron (LSU).

It is no coincidence that five of those are in the SEC West and play the Crimson Tide every season.

At the midway point of this season the SEC has three teams with losing records, the Hogs from the SEC West and Missouri and Vanderbilt from the SEC East.

The league does have two undefeated teams in Alabama and Georgia.

The rest of the Power 5 conferences stack up like this:

The Pac-12 has one team with a losing record, Oregon State, but has no undefeated teams.

The Big Ten has two schools with losing records and two teams who are undefeated, Penn State from the East and Wisconsin from the West. Rutgers and Illinois are the losing teams.

The Big 12 has two teams with losing records and one undefeated team, TCU, who still must play at Iowa State, Oklahoma and Texas Tech, and hosts Texas. It also has games in Fort Worth with Baylor and Kansas, but they are the two teams with losing records.

The ACC has three teams with losing records and one undefeated team, Miami, who has replaced Florida as the luckiest team in America. Boston College, Pittsburgh and North Carolina have losing records.

It was a little surprising to learn Saturday that Alabama had scheduled Arkansas as its homecoming opponent. That's generally not considered a compliment.

Seven other SEC schools scheduled conference opponents for homecoming, and Missouri is your 2017 homecoming queen because it was chosen twice.

Jesse Branch is being inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.

Branch, a native of Pine Bluff who coached the Missouri State football program for nine years (1986-1994), finished 55-44-1 and became the only Bears football coach to record multiple conference championships (Gateway Conference in 1989, 1990).

Those two teams remain the last Bears teams to reach the playoffs. Under Branch, the Bears were 27-3 at home from 1988-1993. Branch was recognized as the NCAA Football Regional Coach of the Year in 1989 and 1990.

Branch arrived at Missouri State from the University of Arkansas, where he played (1959-1962) and coached in various roles from 1975-1985. After his Missouri State days, Branch was an associate athletic director at Arkansas from 1995-2000.


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Sports on 10/19/2017


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