Ranking the head coaches in the SEC

Who is the top dog in the SEC among head coaches entering the 2024 college football season?
Kirby Smart, Brian Kelly, SEC football
Kirby Smart, Brian Kelly, SEC football / Todd Kirkland/GettyImages
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Adding the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners ushers in the new era of SEC football entering the 2024 season. During an offseason of major coaching shakeups around college football, especially in the SEC, it's interesting to project which head coaches could rise up to the top of the pecking order this coming season and beyond.

Official SEC football head coach rankings for the 2024 season

The jockeying for power among the top head coaches in the SEC will be to see who replaces the legendary longtime former Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban in this conference. Saban retired after nearly two decades as Alabama's head coach earlier this offseason, being replaced by former Washington Huskies head coach Kalen DeBoer.

The SEC is one of the deepest power conferences in college football regarding the status of its head coaches. Over a dozen of the SEC's head coaches are arguably ranking among the top 25 or 30 in the power conferences in 2024.

Adding Texas's Steve Sarkisian and Oklahoma's Brent Venables also adds another layer of complexity regarding the depth and ranking of the top head coaches in the SEC in 2024.

Here's a ranking of every head coach in the SEC entering the 2024 college football season.

16. Clark Lea, Vanderbilt

There's a valid argument to be made that the toughest coaching job in the Power Five in college football is the Vanderbilt Commodores. Not only does the Vanderbilt head coach have to compete against the very best college programs nationally every Saturday in the fall, but they also don't have the NIL budget to stay competitive with the rest of the schools in the SEC.

Clark Lea is currently in his fourth year as Vanderbilt's head coach. It's been tough sledding for Lea since he took the reigns at Vandy. He's had double-digit loss seasons in two of three years in Nashville. Vandy also posted one of the Power Five's worst defenses last season, allowing nearly 36 points per game.

Defense was supposed to be Lea's calling card at Vanderbilt, but it hasn't shown up during his tenure so far.

15. Jeff Lebby, Mississippi State

Former Oklahoma offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby got the job as the new head coach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs this offseason. This will be Lebby's first go at things as a college head coach. Lebby brings his high-flying air raid offensive system with him from Oklahoma.

The Sooners ranked fourth in the nation in points per game (41.7) and third in total offense (507.0 yards per game) with Lebby calling plays.

14. Shane Beamer, South Carolina

Things looked to be trending up for South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Shane Beamer entering the 2023 season. South Carolina put together a solid run in 2022, winning eight games and finishing 23rd in the AP Poll.

But South Carolina took a step back in 2023, winning just five games due to a difficult schedule and mounting injuries last season.

Can Beamer and the Gamecocks bounce back in 2024 with another challenging SEC schedule while losing over half its starters from last year's team this offseason is the question.