After a flurry of hiring activity in the last several days, the SEC’s coordinator carousel appears to have stopped spinning.
Since the end of the season, 14 coordinator jobs in the conference have changed in some way. A majority of that change occurred on the defensive side of the ball -- including big-name hires at some of the league’s most prominent programs.
Here are the defensive-coordinator changes that have already taken place at nine SEC programs:
Alabama: With Kirby Smart returning to become head coach at his alma mater, Georgia, that left open the door for Jeremy Pruitt to come back to the program where he put himself on the map as a college coach. Pruitt worked under Nick Saban at Alabama from 2007 to 2012 before serving as defensive coordinator at Florida State in 2013 and at Georgia in 2014 and 2015. The Bulldogs ranked seventh nationally in total defense last season (305.9), eighth in scoring defense (16.9 ppg) and first against the pass (156.5 ypg).
Auburn: Family ties, among other things, brought Kevin Steele to Auburn. Steele spent last season at LSU as defensive coordinator after stints at Alabama, Clemson and Florida State in the last decade. He was also head coach at Baylor for four seasons. The Tennessee grad and former Volunteers assistant replaces Will Muschamp -- now head coach at South Carolina -- as the Tigers’ DC. His LSU defenses ranked 25th nationally in total defense (347.2 ypg) and 41st in scoring defense (24.3 ppg) last season. Steele’s brother Jeff is an associate athletics director at Auburn.
Georgia: Mel Tucker is making his third SEC stop as Smart’s defensive coordinator at Georgia, following previous stints coaching defensive backs at LSU (2000) and Alabama (2015). The 44-year-old has extensive experience as a coordinator at the professional level -- he held that title for seven seasons between stops with the Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars and Chicago Bears -- and spent the 2004 season as co-DC at Ohio State. Tucker even served as interim head coach with the Jaguars in 2011, posting a 2-3 record.
Kentucky: D.J. Eliot remains as the Wildcats’ defensive coordinator and playcaller, but Kentucky coach Mark Stoops added a co-coordinator title for assistant Derrick Ansley. Stoops told reporters last week that other programs had pursued Ansley, also Kentucky’s defensive backs coach. The promotion not only helped keep Ansley in Lexington, but it helps him take a step toward his goal of becoming a coordinator.
LSU: Les Miles made an enormous splash within days of Steele’s departure by bringing in Wisconsin’s Dave Aranda as his new defensive coordinator. In Aranda’s three seasons in Madison, the Badgers were neck-and-neck with Alabama as the nation’s top defense in virtually every statistical category. Adding a rising star in the profession is exactly the boost that LSU needed after a shaky conclusion to the 2015 season.
Mississippi State: Former NFL linebacker Peter Sirmon -- most recently the linebackers coach and recruiting coach at USC -- agreed earlier this week to return to the SEC, this time at Mississippi State. Sirmon served two years alongside former Oregon teammate Justin Wilcox on Derek Dooley’s staff at Tennessee. Sirmon will replace Manny Diaz, who departed after one season back in Starkville to join Mark Richt’s staff at Miami.
Missouri: With Barry Odom moving up the ladder to replace Gary Pinkel as head coach, the Tigers’ former defensive coordinator had several new hires to make. He tabbed former Missouri teammate DeMontie Cross as his defensive coordinator roughly two weeks after taking the job. Cross has made multiple coaching stops in college and professional football in the nearly 20 years since he got his start coaching outside linebackers at Mizzou. The former all-conference safety for the Tigers most recently worked as co-defensive coordinator at TCU last season after serving as the Horned Frogs’ linebackers coach the previous two years.
South Carolina: Travaris Robinson followed Muschamp to Auburn last year after spending four seasons assisting him at Florida. Now he has his first coordinator job under Muschamp at South Carolina. The 34-year-old enjoyed a brief NFL career after his days as an All-SEC safety at Auburn. Robinson coached defensive backs at five different schools between 2008 and 2015.
Tennessee: Another of the big-splash hires, Butch Jones managed to lure Bob Shoop back to the SEC, away from James Franklin and Penn State. Within days of parting ways with John Jancek, Jones had hired Shoop, who spent three years with Franklin as Vanderbilt’s defensive coordinator (2011-13). Despite working with roster limitations in two seasons at Penn State, Shoop fielded impressive defenses. The Nittany Lions ranked second nationally in total defense in 2014 (278.7 ypg) and 14th in 2015 (324.5).