SIDELINE OBSERVATIONS: Changing faces in the Southeastern Conference

Published: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 06:16 PM.

If you drive through a parking lot at any large retailer, you will probably see cars with bumper stickers, decals or license plates that proclaim an association with any or all of the four schools listed above.

And don’t think fans of the four schools were the only ones watching the searches unfold.

Alabama fans wanted to see who would fill vacancies at Auburn and Tennessee, the Crimson Tide’s two biggest rivals.

Early last week, I received an email from Crestview principal Bob Jones, a former Kentucky football player. While the email focused on another issue, he also asked how the coaching search at Tennessee was going.

Butch Jones reportedly declined offers from Kentucky, Purdue and Colorado, hoping Tennessee would fall into his lap. His patience paid off when the Volunteers came calling following two or three other coaches’ rejections.

I didn’t watch the press conferences introducing Bielema, Malzahn or Stoops, but I watched the Tennessee press conference introducing Butch Jones as the new man dedicated to lead the Vols. Jones said all the right things about winning in the classroom and on the field. He spoke of winning both conference and national championships.

I’m sure the other coaches said similar things as they embraced the challenge of SEC coaching and the big checks that go with it.

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