I was on ESPN-680 with Bob Valvano on Tuesday, and the host said he just felt like Kentucky needed a proven head coach to take over its football program. It’s a popular view out there and there’s a reason to get behind that point of view.
And yet two of the best SEC hires in recent years are coaches who did not have previous head coaching experience.
One is Dan Mullen, who was offensive coordinator for Urban Meyer at Florida when he was hired by former UK associate athletics director Greg Byrne at Mississippi State.
In four years as the Bulldogs’ coach, Mullen is 28-19 overall. He took the team to a blowout win over Michigan in the 2010 Gator Bowl, which cost Rich Rodriguez his job in Ann Arbor. (Byrne then hired him at at Arizona.) This year, Mississippi State is 7-2 overall and 3-2 in the SEC.
The other coach is Vandy’s James Franklin, whose Commodores just beat the Cats 40-0 last Saturday, which was the final straw in the Phillips’ Era.
Franklin was Ralph Friedgen’s offensive coordinator at Maryland when he took the Vanderbilt job. He is now 11-11 overall with the Commodores and 5-9 in the SEC. His team is 3-3 in the conference. Remember, UK has not had a winning SEC record since 1977.
Not saying that UK should hire a coach without head coaching experience, but it should not be seen as an impediment.