2023 SEC football preseason preview: coach superlatives edition

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 2: Alabama Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban speaks during an event to honnor the 2015- 2016 College Football Playoff National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide in the East Room the White House March 2, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 2: Alabama Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban speaks during an event to honnor the 2015- 2016 College Football Playoff National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide in the East Room the White House March 2, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images) /

SEC football is the top conference in college football with many teams that can compete with any squad in the nation.

Leading those teams is a group of men who can be best described as an out-of-control classroom – or more specifically a classic senior graduating class only seen in the movies.

From the class clown to class president there is a wide cast of characters that make Saturday all the more interesting.

So what better way to preview the 2023 SEC football season than handing out some superlatives to this years’ class.

2023 SEC football preseason preview: coach superlatives edition

Most likely to succeed: Kirby Smart

Kirby Smart has the Georgia Bulldogs primed for the first three-peat in college football since the AP Poll was introduced.

They are 29-1 over the last two seasons and after a 65-7 obliteration of TCU, it is hard to see anybody beating the Bulldogs outside of SEC football.

Georgia’s 2023 schedule was crippled with Oklahoma coming to the SEC as conference brass ordered them to reschedule. They ended up adding Ball State so now the only games on their regular season schedule that could trip them up is Florida and Tennessee.

High expectations loom for 2023.

Most likely to become President: Nick Saban

Nick Saban’s voice holds the most weight in the college football world and he pretty much already rules Alabama so the presidency isn’t far fetched.

In all seriousness, Saban has had a storied career and an unbelievable resume that includes 7 national championships and almost 50 years of coaching.

Saban is college football royalty and he’ll always be on or near the mountain top until he decides to walk away.

Most likely to crash a party: Josh Heupel

Heupel and the Tennessee Volunteers crashed the college football playoff race last year until Hendon Hooker went down with a torn ACL against South Carolina.

In Heupel’s second season he led Tennessee to 11 wins which were the second-most in program history and while the expectations for 2023 might not be as high, there is still some hope that Heupel can be the quarterback whisperer for which he was advertised prior to his arrival in Knoxville.

They will be hovering around the top 10 – they will start at No. 10 in the coaches poll – so it will be interesting to see if they can sneak into the CFP.

Class Clown: Lane Kiffin

The Lane Train stops for nobody and his memes and social media game is top notch.

Obviously this draws attention away from his coaching ability just as a class clown would draw attention away from his own grade in the class.

You figure with all of the joking around, they might be failing. But sometimes they’re not.

And that is the case for Kiffin. He’ll just need to lead Ole Miss to a stronger finish this season.

Most likely to become internet famous: Brian Kelly

Brian Kelly was up for a number of superlatives. He could have been ‘Most likely to crash a party’ due to having LSU in prime position to make a run last year and with starting out No. 5 in the coaches poll this season. He could have even been ‘Class Clown’ but we all know that had to be Kiffin.

Most likely to become internet famous felt right and it felt like something that has happened to Kelly throughout his career.

When he is in the national spotlight, the fans know they can expect a good soundbite and funny clip.

Whether his team is down 28-0 in the BCS National Championship Game or he is dancing with recruits, the internet loves some Brian Kelly content. So here’s to hoping for more in 2023.

Biggest Flirt: Jimbo Fisher

Jimbo Fisher is a relentless and masterful recruiter. Every year at Texas A&M he brings in an impressive class and in 2022 he brought in the No. 1 ranked recruiting class in the nation.

But unfortunately for Aggie fans it hasn’t resulted in much success on the field. Instead, what starts out fun and promising, eventually turns into an act all too familiar.

There is a lot of pressure on Fisher this season so Aggie fans will hope they can go all the way this time.

Most Likely to get ID’ed at the reunion: Zach Arnett

Zach Arnett takes over for the late Mike Leach at Mississippi State.

He is the second-youngest head coach in the Power Five and has built his resume on defense and recruiting since joining the Bulldogs staff in 2020.

There will be a learning curve and he is perhaps the biggest wild card out of all of the coaches in SEC football.

Most changed since freshman year: Shane Beamer

Shane Beamer has already overachieved with wins over Clemson and Tennessee last season which makes his first season at the helm feel like a distant memory.

Last year the Gamecocks went 8-4, and despite not winning their bowl game against Notre Dame, they ended up ranked No. 23 in the final AP Poll.

This season, with Spencer Rattler looking to take the next step, there is some cautious optimism around the South Carolina football program for the first time in while.

Most likely to be a millionaire: Eli Drinkwitz and Clark Lea

Every coach on here is a millionaire. The difference is both of these coaches – Eli Drinkwitz at Missouri and Clark Lea at Vanderbilt – just got pretty big extensions.

Despite not making a ton of noise just yet, Lea is getting paid through 2029 and Drinkwitz is on board until 2027.

Who knows if either of them will make it to those dates but the money sure sounds good.

Cutest Couple: Mark Stoops and Kentucky

There aren’t many coaches – or programs for that matter – that have been as consistent as Kentucky under Mark Stoops.

They are a match made in heaven, and with Stoops still going strong into his 11th season, there is no reason to see their path waver.

Most likely to cheat on a test: Hugh Freeze

This one might be the most accurate out of all of the superlatives so far… considering Hugh Freeze did get caught cheating at Ole Miss.

But you know how the saying goes, “If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’.”

Freeze takes over for Bryan Harsin who didn’t last 2 seasons at Auburn.

Most likely to be on the hot seat: Billy Napier

This isn’t to say Billy Napier will get fired but out of all of the coaches in the SEC he may have the most ground to cover.

Billy Napier had a rough first year at Florida. With Anthony Richardson at QB, the Gators weren’t able to finish above .500.

It’s hard to predict how this season will go with a new quarterback and while the recruiting has been good as of late, it’s just tough to bet on the Gators making a jump with a monstrous 2024 schedule even further ahead.

Conventional wisdom says he will be able to last through that time period without a ton of success, but after that anything is possible.

Most likely to overachieve: Sam Pittman

Shane Beamer could have qualified here but it felt right to give the honor to Sam Pittman; who might be the most underrated head coach in the SEC.

Since taking over at Arkansas, the Razorbacks have gotten back on track with 2 bowl wins and broke their tumultuous 20-game SEC losing streak. But expectations for Arkansas aren’t anything crazy.

And with KJ Jefferson healthy and returning for another year, they might just be able to surprise some people and return to their 2021 form.

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