If you reside in the southeast and hear a clock ticking off in the distance, don't be alarmed. That's just the countdown on what will be the most insane coaching silly season the SEC has ever seen. It might sound like it's ticking a little bit faster than it was on Friday.
Following a 42-7 loss to Georgia to cap off a tumultuous week for Florida coach Jim McElwain that concluded when the third-year due to his public statements about receiving death threats, things are going to start moving fast and furious.
Why? Well, it's simple.
Even though it's 3-4, Florida is a giant. It's a destination. It's a program that's ready-made for instant and sustained success, despite not enjoying either for nearly a decade. The recruiting base, tradition and increased focus on facilities (that McElwain fought for and, to an extent, created part of the rift between himself and the administration) hasn't tarnished the shine off a proud program.
The thing is that it might be one of many giants in the market depending on how all of this plays out -- all of which will be jockeying for position in a condensed coaching silly season due to the presence of the new 72-hour early signing period that starts on Dec. 20.
How likely are these jobs to come open? Let's rank them, assuming Ole Miss is on top considering Matt Luke is an interim coach who took over for Hugh Freeze in July on a one-year basis.
T1. Tennessee: It's almost a certainty that Tennessee will make a change with Butch Jones after the Vols fell to 0-5 in the SEC with a 29-26 loss to Kentucky. Unless #GRUMORS are true this time and Jon Gruden lands on Rocky Top, one of the biggest mistakes of the college football season might be the fact that Volunteer athletics director John Currie delayed the inevitable with Jones after losing to Georgia 41-0 at home in late September and didn't get out in front of the pack. While Tennessee is still a great job that will be attractive, it's not Florida.
T1. Florida: There's no doubt that the death threat debacle from the week that was rubbed Florida's brass the wrong way. That coupled with a strained relationship with leadership within the university -- as detailed by Thomas Goldkamp of 247Sports -- and three straight seasons of stagnant, frustrating, mediocre offenses had McElwain under immense pressure that he clearly felt.
"At the end of the day, we were all brought here to win and we haven't done it," McElwain said after the Georgia loss. "The concern isn't about my job. It's about the players and my staff. That's the concern, it isn't about me."
The concern isn't about his job because he knew how that was going to end. Remember, this is a guy who just one week ago was assumed to be returning to Florida in 2018. (Note: Story was published before Florida officially parted ways with McElwain).
3. Texas A&M: Everybody thought Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin's job was safe after the Aggies seemingly got back on track, but a 35-14 home loss to Mississippi State Saturday night dropped him to 5-3 this year and 8-13 at home in conference games since he joined the program for its maiden voyage in the SEC in 2012. With Auburn next week in College Station, LSU ahead and a trip to a dangerous Ole Miss offense in between, things could get very dicey for Sumlin if things go south -- especially if it looks like another school has its eye on one a seemingly natural fit (looking at you, SMU coach Chad Morris).
Plus, even if Sumlin cruises into the garage with another eight-win regular season and Texas A&M decides to keep him, would that be enough -- given the youth on the offense -- to earn him offers that, while not as prestigious or as high-paying as Texas A&M, could offer more stability? Maybe so.
4. Arkansas: The Razorbacks stormed back from a 31-7 deficit on Saturday to top Ole Miss 38-37 on Saturday in Oxford for their first SEC win of the year. That was the good news. The bad news was that they were down 31-7 to a totally dysfunctional Rebel team that had quarterback Jordan Ta'amu making his first start. Describing the game as sloppy might be an insult to slop. That improved Bret Bielema to 11-26 in conference play since he took over prior to the 2013 season. That won't cut it at Arkansas, which is a program that at least expects to be relevant in the SEC West once every three or four years. With reports that his buyout might not be as high as initially reported, the question might not be cost. It's whether athletics director Jeff Long is the one to make the hire and if Arkansas wants to compete for coaches in a crowded market.
5. Auburn: The 6-2 (4-1 SEC) Tigers were off on Saturday, but play-calling and offensive philosophy issues with coach Gus Malzahn (read: ego) have arguably cost Auburn in their only two losses of the season -- at Clemson and at LSU. With Georgia and Alabama both on the schedule at home in November, plus that road trip to Aggieland, things could accelerate quickly on the Plains -- especially if the Tigers fall to the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide in the same season for the fourth straight year.
Malzahn lost a national title game to Florida State following the 2013 season because of poor play-calling, failed to build a big lead at Alabama the following year for the same reason, and that bug has bitten him twice already this year. What people forget is that Malzahn had a 37-17, fourth-quarter lead vs. Georgia in 2013, lost it, and was bailed out by the "Miracle on the Plains."
6. Missouri: The Tigers are coming off back-to-back big wins over Idaho and UConn, which don't exactly move the meter, but at least give people in Columbia something to feel good about after a September to forget. Will that last once SEC play cranks back up? That could tell the tale for coach Barry Odom. But if there's any school in the SEC that doesn't want to get into a crowded coaching market, it's Missouri.
The offense will have to go in the toilet, and the program will need to be embarrassed several times down the stretch for the administration to make a move on Odom after his second year.
Time is ticking, and the way McElwain's situation accelerated over the course of the last week isn't just an issue that will resonate in Gainesville. It's something that will have a major impact on other programs in limbo heading into the final month of the season.
Buckle up. The next month is going to get weird in the SEC.