Georgia's Mark Richt is now the dean of SEC coaches. Imagine that.
It doesn't seem as though he has been there that long, does it?
The dean isn't even in double figures, having just completed his eighth season as the Bulldogs' coach. No other SEC football coach has been at the same school that long.
Welcome to the what-have-you-done-for-us-lately era of SEC football, where "patience" has become a dirty word.
This didn't happen overnight. SEC football didn't make it out of the 20th century before coaches began editing "five-year rebuilding plan" out of their acceptance speeches.
Instead, they talk about "changing the culture." And they don't dare mention a time frame.
I knew coach Lou Holtz was finished at South Carolina when he talked about "changing the culture" - before his fifth season. It was obvious by then that more than the culture needed to be changed.
It won't be long before SEC coaches will be advised to change the culture between semesters. If they start talking about "years," some booster with deep pockets will start talking about "buyout."
Three SEC coaches - Phillip Fulmer at Tennessee, Tommy Tuberville at Auburn and Sylvester Croom at Mississippi State - just got bought out. Such yearly attrition could become commonplace in a league as competitive as this one.
Sure, it's costly making a change. But it can be even more costly if you don't make a change.
And it's not as though the SEC is having trouble making its mortgage payment.
The country might be in a recession. The SEC isn't. Its long-term billion-dollar deals with television networks will make it the richest football league outside the NFL. Its members will share the wealth, and fire and hire accordingly.
When you're making that kind of money, what's the big deal about spending a few million to get rid of one coach and a few more million to hire another one?
UT is paying Fulmer $6 million to leave. Auburn will pay Tuberville a little more than $5 million.
Sudden success stories also will contribute to a higher turnover rate among SEC coaches.
LSU suffered through losing seasons in 1998 and 1999. Enter Nick Saban.
Saban won seven games in his first season, won the SEC championship in his second year and won the national title in his fourth year. How's that for changing the culture?
After Florida lost five games in each of Ron Zook's three seasons (2002-04), it had seen enough. Out with Zook, in with Urban Meyer.
Meyer went 9-3 in his first season, won the national title in his second and is one game away from winning another national championship in his fourth season. Consider the Gators de-Zooked.
Now, Saban is at it again.
Former Alabama coach Mike Shula got a healthy raise and a contract extension after his team went 10-2 in 2005. A year later, after a 6-6 record, he got a pink slip.
Why keep Shula when you can get Saban?
Two years later, Saban has the Tide 12-1 and on its way to the Sugar Bowl. His $4 million a year deal that was once deemed "outrageous" is now termed "a bargain."
Alabama, like Florida, has been rewarded for its lack of patience. And every school in the conference has been rewarded by those historic television packages.
The combination could mark the end of coaching deans with double-digit years in tenure - unless, of course, Meyer or Saban decides to stick around.
Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or email@example.com.