SEC Coaches as Star Wars Characters
College football is almost in full stride. But before the gridiron battles begin across the galaxy, let’s take one more chance to have a little off-season fun. We’ve brought two of our favorite things: college football and Star Wars and mixed them together. What if SEC Head Coaches were cast as Star Wars characters?
What traits or flaws among the fourteen head coaches make them good candidates to play some of the most famous motion picture roles? We break each coach down and look at who his most likely galactic match would be.
The Cast of Characters
Ed Orgeron as Jar Jar Binks
This is the easiest comparison to make among the 14 head coaches in the SEC. Jar Jar Binks is one of the more unappreciated characters in the Star Wars canon. He was a hapless character that ascended to command in the Gungan defense forces simply from his connections to other, more powerful people, in the Naboo Queen’s Court. Similarly, Ed Orgeron has made his way through college football toiling under Jimmy Johnson at Miami, Pete Carroll at USC, Lane Kiffin at Tennessee and USC, and Les Miles at LSU. And, much like Binks, Orgeron has managed to come through several high profile “stumblings” seemingly for the better. He was dismissed from Miami. He has the stench of sanctions from the USC and Kiffin eras. And his previous head coaching stint at Ole Miss was less than memorable.
Oh, and there’s the funny talking part.
Gus Malzahn as Boba Fett
Poor Boba Fett. Always chasing the big stars, but never quite getting the big prize. Fett, whose father was the donor for the clone army, has to criss-cross the galaxy knowing all of these Empiral Stromtroopers are his half-brothers. Malzahn, who literally wrote a book about the spread offense, has to be a little somber as he looks around college football today. Is he known as the “Father of the Modern Offense?” No. He’s still known as the number two coach in his own state. Still trying to catch the big fish.
Dan Mullen as Lando Calrissian
You might have to be a Florida or Auburn fan to really understand this one. See, Lando is a pretty good guy when he’s on your team. But when the Empire comes knocking around, Lando is prone to selling you out to the bigger fish. Especially if he lost his prized quarterback — er, his prized Millennium Falcon — to you. Look, the galaxy is a tough place. A man has to take care of himself in a cut-throat world like that.
Much like Lando, Mullen has built a comfortable living in a small, remote outpost of the SEC. As long as he keeps winning seven or eight games a season, no reason to believe that the Mississippi State administration will alter the deal.
Nick Saban as Emperor Palpatine
OK, so maybe this one is easier than Orgeron/Binks. Saban is the architect of modern college football’s version of the Galactic Empire. Five-star recruits and NFL players marching in lock-step week in, week out; year in, year out. “The Process” has created a self-sustaining dynasty that is capable of reaching across the galaxy and destroying entire programs. And he does it with almost absolute control. He’s had many apprentices that have come and then vanquished elsewhere. Can he truly achieve immortality with more power? Well, there’s already a statue of him. That’s a pretty good start.
Kirby Smart as Darth Vader
The one Saban disciple that seems like he’s on the verge of building is own empire is Kirby Smart. Once the All-American kid from Georgia who seemed to have a natural knack for football. Much like young Anakin, he was on the natural progression to the Jedi Council — assistant coaching stops at Georgia and Florida State before short apprenticeships under Nick Saban at LSU and the Miami Dolphins. That turned into a Sith mentorship when Saban made Smart the defensive coordinator at Alabama. He had truly turned to the dark side at that point. Now Smart is on his own at Georgia, trying to dethrone his mentor atop the SEC.
Bret Bielema as Han Solo
The swashbuckling space pirate that always gets the girl? Well, that’s Bret Bielema. Bielema is the outsider in the league’s council of coaches. He came from a program that’s probably bigger than the one he’s at in the SEC. You never quite know if he’s in or if he’s out. Some weeks, Arkansas is beating a top ranked Ole Miss. Another week they’re laying an egg. He marches to his own beat, and if the league doesn’t like, well that’s OK with him.
That kind of attitude is what makes people love him. He knows.
Mark Stoops as Chewbacca
Poor Chewbacca. First, he is first captain for Lando on the Millennium Falcon. Then he first captains for Han. And when Han’s son offs him, he ends up having to take second seat to Rey. When will Chewbacca get to sit in the Captain’s chair? Probably never. Mark has worked in the shadow of brother Bob for years. And then at Kentucky, he’s played second fiddle in the second tier of the second division of the SEC. He has those intangibles. He’s capable. He’s loyal. But sometimes good guys finish last.
In Stoops’ case at Kentucky, he’s a really, really good guy.
Jim McElwain as the Mos Eisley Cantina Bartender
“Mos Eisley spaceport. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.”
Florida has ten players suspended for the opening week of the season. That comes off of first games suspensions from 2016 as well. And Florida is the alma mater of Aaron Hernandez, Percy Harvin, and the Pouncey twins. Jim McElwain might be a good guy, but he’s serving customers in a sketchy corner of the SEC galaxy.
Matt Luke as Admiral Akbar
What could be bad about landing a head coaching job at an SEC school? Well, impending NCAA sanctions, already imposed school sanctions, a dearth of talent lost to the NFL, and following a disgraced coach leaving the program under very questionable conditions. In a phrase, “It’s a trap.”
Oh, and Ole Miss plays in arguably the toughest division in college football. Luke better hope he finds some long-lost Jedi to single-handedly destroy the Death Star pretty quick. Or it’ll be the shortest offensive in history.
Will Muschamp as Kylo Ren
Oh, the anger. Kylo Ren has so much anger, so much frustration. You can see it on his face. How else could you stick a light saber through your dad’s gut? You’ve got to ask yourself if he’s burdened by the disappointment of his father. Or his mother? His uncle maybe? Or his mythical evil grandfather? Maybe disappointment is what makes Muschamp so angry. Muschamp played at Georgia and lost to arch-rival Florida four straight seasons. Then, as coach at Florida, he lost to Georgia until his final season. That’ll scar a man’s soul. Is he angry because he disappointed Mack Brown at Texas? Or Florida’s faithful as Urban’s replacement. His defense is great, but his offense can’t even beat an untrained teenager with a light saber she’s had for a day.
There’s no way to tell where the anger comes from, but its clearly there.
Kevin Sumlin as General Grievous
So many tools, so little victories. Kevin Sumlin has had as many top notch weapons at Texas A&M as General Grievous has light saber-wielding mechanical arms. Johnny Manziel, Speedy Noil, Myles Garrett. All for not. Sure, he’s struck down some Jedi here and there. But he’s never won the big battle. Never claimed his own title. And just like Grievous, it looks like the end might be near.
Derek Mason as Poe Dameron
The good-looking hero for the under-manned, under-equipped Rebel Alliance. Even sports the cool vest as he graces the cover of the galactic GQ magazine. Poe seems to get the best from everyone he comes in contact with. And he does it with style. You can almost see Dameron hip-hopping through the Rebel Air Base after another upset win against the First Order.
And even better, Dameron is a character from the story films, not from the trilogy. Vanderbilt’s in the big league, but it’s not quite part of the Jedi legacy.
Butch Jones as Mace Windu
Jones seems to have an understanding of the Force. He can recruit some of the best young talent in the galaxy. And he says some things that some people don’t understand. All of the power is there. But when it comes time to save the galaxy and kill the Sith Lord, he can’t quite close the deal. He’s that guy, much like Samuel L. Jackson, that just doesn’t look like a natural casting fit for the character. Not only does he let the Palpatine live, but he does so by losing to the young Anakin Skywalker.
He lost he fight and the future.
Barry Odom as Grand Moff Tarkin
Odom is the guy you kind of feel sorry for. He seems organized and disciplined. He almost seems like a guy that doesn’t really buy in to the whole “terrorizing the galaxy” thing that the Sith Lords have going on. But in the end, you know he’s the captain of the Death Star, and you know that he’s not going to make it to the next movie. If you know anything about Star Wars, you know that the Death Star in each movie is going down.
And if you know anything about college football, you know that Missouri is going to have a tough season ahead of it.
As we kick off the 2017 season, the coaches of the SEC galaxy have one thing in common: They do. Or do not. There is no try.