Welcome to The Hot Seat, where each week we will preview a game that could make a coach's season or maybe end his tenure. Let's travel on down to the SEC.
Let's get this out of the way first: There's no chance that Will Muschamp and James Franklin's jobs are in jeopardy right now. But this is a crucial game for the futures of each coach and the program he coaches.
Both Vanderbilt and Florida are 4-4, and the winner of Saturday's game at the Swamp. And as crazy as it sounds, this is more of a must-win for Florida's bowl chances than it is for Vanderbilt's.
Following the Commodores, Florida faces South Carolina, Georgia Southern and Florida State. A win in any other than the Georgia Southern game is a massive upset, and with the presumed 1-2 record, a win against Vanderbilt gets Florida to 6-6 on the season.
Crazy, but it's hard to overstate how much the injury bug has affected this Gator team. Hell, it's stronger than what happened to Missouri last year, and those Tigers were decimated. With Tyler Moore's broken elbow in a scooter accident, he became the 10th Gator lost for the season.
That's why Muschamp has some slack, much like Gary Pinkel did last season at Mizzou. There's only so much you can do with so many players getting hurt. Though in the interest of fairness, we do need to point out the records of Muschamp and Ron Zook, who was fired after three seasons at Florida. Zook finished with a 23-14 record overall and 16-8 in the SEC. In the midst of his third season, Muschamp is 22-12 and 13-9.
Entering the season, Franklin was one of the hottest names in coaching, and he immediately was mentioned when Lane Kiffin was fired at USC. His status hasn't changed too much, despite Vanderbilt's heavy losses to Texas A&M and Missouri. Beating Georgia helps with that immensely.
And the road to six wins is much easier. After Florida, Vandy still has games against Kentucky and Tennessee, as well as a season ending game against Wake Forest. That's a plausible 7-5 with a loss Saturday and 8-4 with a win. But, this being the SEC, 6-6 is plausible too. Tennessee has played well at Neyland Stadium.
Winning seasons at each program set up well in an increasingly competitive conference. .500 seasons still get a bowl, but questions arise. And they remove the margin for error in the future. Is Florida still capable of being kings of the East? Is Vanderbilt's improvement still continuing? Those questions won't be answered Saturday, but we may get pointed in the right direction.
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