Bielema becomes the Arkansas Razorbacks head coach after spending seven seasons at the helm of the Wisconsin Badgers. This hire was widely considered to be the top head coaching hire made this year in the SEC, although many didn’t have Bielema on the Arkansas “short list.” He brings a hard-nosed mentality to Fayetteville, having spent his time prior to becoming a head coach as a defensive coordinator at both Kansas State and Wisconsin. Bielema’s record at Wisconsin speaks for itself – over 60 wins, multiple Rose Bowl appearances, and three Big Ten Titles. Not to mention two wildly successful young NFL stars in Seattle Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson and the Houston Texans’ defensive end J.J. Watt. But how will Bielema’s Big Ten success translate to the SEC? As offensive minded as college football is today, the one common denominator in any national title contender remains a stout defense. I think Bielema’s defensive, tough nosed style will be a good fit for Arkansas in the end.
After spending three seasons leading the Auburn Tiger offense, Malzahn left the Plains to become the head coach of the Arkansas State Red Wolves. In a move that left some scratching their heads, it may have worked out for the best for both Auburn and Malzahn. Malzahn returns to the Plains after leading Arkansas State to a Sun Belt conference championship and a 9 – 3 overall record in his first and only season as the head coach. As one of the most innovative offensive minds in all of college football, the return of Malzahn and his explosive offense has to be a welcome sight not only for Auburn’s offensive players, but also the Auburn fan base. One would have to imagine Auburn quarterback Kiehl Frazier is especially excited to be reunited with Malzahn. Frazier struggled this past season in a more pro-style offense, but who can blame him? It was like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. With Malzahn’s offensive prowess, SEC coaching experience, and proven offensive success, this seems to be a great hire for the Auburn Tigers.
Butch Jones becomes the head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers after a wild coaching search in Knoxville. Jon Gruden, Charlie Strong, and Mike Gundy all appeared on the Tennessee coaching search radar, but after all was said and done former Cincinnati Bearcat head coach Butch Jones is the head man in Knoxville. Jones brings head coaching experience from Central Michigan and Cincinnati where he spent three seasons at each University. He amassed a 50 – 27 overall record with two Big East Championships at Cincinnati and two Mid-American Conference Championships while at Central Michigan. Prior to becoming a head coach, Jones spent his time as an assistant on the offensive side of the ball. He brings an up-tempo, no huddle style of offense that has become extremely popular in college football today. Jones is poised to deliver a spark to the Volunteer team and fan base that they have desperately needed over the past few years. Even though Tennessee may not have gotten their first choice, they undoubtedly got a proven winner in Butch Jones.
After another disappointing football season in Lexington, the Kentucky Wildcats parted ways with longtime Wildcat Joker Philips. After a relatively quick coaching search, Mark Stoops was named the head football coach of the Kentucky Wildcats. Yes, those Stoops. Mark is the brother of Oklahoma Sooner head coach Bob Stoops, one of the elite head coaches in all of college football, and also Mike Stoops, the former head coach of the Arizona Wildcats and current defensive coordinator of the Oklahoma Sooners. Mark Stoops comes to Kentucky after spending three seasons as defensive coordinator at Florida State. His success in Tallahassee must have struck a cord with Kentucky Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart. One has to think with the hiring of Stoops, Barnhart realizes the importance of a strong defense in building a winning program. Despite Kentucky’s recent slide under Joker Philips, the Wildcat football program has had success in the past decade under head coach Rich Brooks, who led the team to 4 straight bowl games during his tenure in Lexington. The task may seem a bit daunting, and some patience may be required, but Stoops seems up to the challenge to turn around the football program in Lexington.
By: Bryant Bean