Sunday, December 15, 2013

As the Carousel Turns: December Edition 4 (Mack Brown Edition)

By now, we all know the direction that the drama in Austin, Texas has taken, and Mack Brown is remaining on at Texas after the Alamo Bowl as an advisor to President Bill Powers at a tune of roughly $500,000 per year. Let us break down what happened and what is ongoing at Texas, as well as what else is happening and what has happened in the coaching carousel over the last couple of days.

The Longhorn administration and faithful can go on all day long about who they want and who they believe they will hire, but let us look at what the reality is here.
Jim Harbaugh and Mike Tomlin have both flatly turned down overtures and interest in the job. Harbaugh has told the 49ers that he won't be leaving for any job anywhere. Tomlin, who has some heat on him right now with the Steelers, has also said that he has no interest in being a college coach. Pete Carroll is another name that has surfaced, but that isn't happening either.
How about Jimbo Fisher and Gus Malzahn? With Malzahn, he's from Texas, so he's got to be interested, right? Flatly speaking, highly unlikely being where he has Auburn at the moment, and Auburn can pay him whatever Texas can. Fisher? Why would he leave Florida State right now, as he is playing for a national title, and has built a recruiting base that could have FSU as a top 5 program for a decade.
How about Jim Mora of UCLA...yet another name that has been tossed around senselessly, because we all know that Mora has such deep connections with the state of Texas, right? Seriously? Why don't we just name every coach who has had success anywhere in the last 5 years as a candidate. Soon enough you'll have a joke of a candidate list much like North Dakota's "candidate list".
There are two names that make some sense that have been tossed about. They are Mark Dantonio of Michigan State, and James Franklin of Vanderbilt. Franklin was on USC's early wish list, but something didn't click there, and according to the Vandy administration, nobody ever contacted them about Franklin. Franklin is getting a lot of credit for turning the Commodores into a competitive program in the SEC East, but there is a glass ceiling at Vandy, and Franklin certainly has to know that.
There is no such glass ceiling at Michigan State, but Dantonio could be had for a staggering sum of cash after leading the Spartans to their first Rose Bowl since 1988. MSU certainly cannot match a truck load of gold that Texas could offer, even with Big 10 network money backing them up. Texas is a job of infinite resources, which Dantonio, also a Texas native (but really, that probably has little to no play in this) would be hard pressed to ignore at this stage of his career. Dantonio is a winner, a solid guy, and would be a very nice fit.
On the Dantonio note, Pat Narduzzi was an absolute frontrunner for the UConn job, but pulled out at the last minute to stay on at MSU. Narduzzi is an absolute when it comes to head coaching material, and MSU has made a power play to keep him, even as a DC. What this means to me is that MSU is keeping him around, because they fear that if Dantonio leaves for Texas, they would need Narduzzi to step up as head coach, not just for the Rose Bowl, but for the full time job as well. Narduzzi is entrenched in East Lansing, and could very well be their next head coach.
My final bet on this job is that it'll come down to Franklin or Dantonio, with an outside shot that the game's biggest mercenary, Todd Graham of Arizona State could toss his name in the hat at the 11th hour as well, and join his old boss Steve Patterson.

Penn State
There is a large amount of information, especially from CBS Sports that the Vikings and Texans have reached out to Bill O'Brien about becoming their next head coach. CBS is also reporting that the Redskins could be next if they remove Mike Shanahan, who has already seen his son Kyle resign effective at the end of the season as Washington OC.
If this happens, Penn State could go a couple of ways. They could promote from the existing staff (continuity would be a huge bonus), or there are two candidates that could be in play here that would fit into the needs of this program. Those names would be Pat Narduzzi, if he hasn't been named Michigan State head coach, and Ball State's Pete Lembo. Both names have been mentioned for numerous jobs thus far, and both could be back in play once again, if not now, then in 2014.

Florida Atlantic
In yet another turn of events that seems senseless, FAU has agreed with Arkansas OL Coach Charlie Partridge on a deal as head coach for the Owls. Partridge's name had been dismissed in regards to this job, only to have him appear with job in hand less than three days later (See Bryan Harsin, Boise State). This hiring is by far not the best move that could have been made here, and it would appear that after everyone else turned down this job, and OC Brian Wright had been dismissed as a candidate, that FAU ended up picking someone who just wouldn't say no. That's always the path to greatest success...Yes, they are still FAUcked.

Of course, as I had spoken about last time, Nick Saban has officially been extended at Alabama. Seems about the time that Saban was going to be outed with just how much time he spent considering the Texas job, he jumped at the chance to sign that extension worth $7 million annually, and is more than willing to speak about how he never intended to go to Texas. If Saban's lips are moving, you should take the other side of the story, as we all know too well (again, see Miami Dolphins).

FCS Jobs

North Dakota State
After pounding Coastal Carolina 48-14 yesterday, NDSU named DC Chris Klieman as the next head coach for the Bisons, who are a major power house program in FCS football. Klieman will replace Craig Bohl, who is bound for Wyoming at the end of the FCS playoff run.

Stephen F. Austin
Central Arkansas coach Clint Conque, who I felt would be a major candidate for the Arkansas State job, has now taken the job coaching the Lumberjacks. This is a strange move, because it seems like a lateral choice for Conque, who moves to another school in the same conference (Southland). Conque had been at UCA for a decade, and was amazingly successful in helping transition the Bears from D2 to FCS football.

Weber State
The Wildcats have hired Utah TE/ST coach Jay Hill, and Hill will be bringing some Ute staffers with him for the ride. Weber State is replacing Jody Sears, who was given the job when John L. Smith jolted the Cats for Arkansas without ever coaching a game. One note of interest was that Gary Crowten was also a candidate for this job.

North Carolina Central
This job has been getting play lately, and the latest name to interview is South Alabama WR coach Jerry Mack. Connell Maynor, a former Arena League MVP and current Winston-Salem State coach, is still my favorite for this job. He has won big at WSSU, a former MEAC member who dropped down to D2.

James Madison
JMU has released a list of candidates, and it's not as impressive as I figured it would be. Oakland Raiders QB coach John DeFilippo, Arizona Cardinals OC Rod Smith, and current JMU OC Mike O'Cain are the latest candidates mentioned. I'm not jumping up and down about anyone on this list.

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