Tuesday, November 24, 2015

As the Coaching Carousel Turns: 11/24

Virginia Tech, Whit Babcock Lock In On Fuente
The Big news today comes from Blacksburg, where Whit Babcock has seemingly found his man for the Virginia Tech job, and is so seemingly convinced that he isn't looking at other candidates at this moment. According to several sources, Whit's man is none other than Memphis coach Justin Fuente, and he's locking in.
Fuente was asked about this story today, and while he did not admit to anything, he certainly was in no mood for denial. There could be gravity here, so we are watching this one closely, as it could go down sometime early next week.
Fuente was recently offered a huge extension deal to stay at Memphis, and so Memphis must be working on something to keep Fuente, but whether or not they have the resources to retain him remains to be seen.

Hawaii Narrows Search to Three
June Jones did reapply to come back to the program, and is a favorite of all involved as of now. Jones made Hawaii into a big winner during his tenure, but there is something off about this hire, and just wreaks of desperation from within the program. There is very little experience in the search committee and they may just be going with familiarity instead of what's right for the program now. Tulsa Co-DC and Nevada OC Nick Rolovich are also in the mix, and both have strong ties as well as former players. In my opinion, UH would be wise to move into the future, not to return to the past.

Syracuse Moving On From Shafer, Already Have Interested Parties
Ed Orgeron held himself out of a couple of jobs last season for a better opportunity. Apparently, he has found the job he wants and has gone public about his interest in the Syracuse gig after the Orangemen parted ways with Scott Shafer yesterday. Shafer, who coached a team bereft with injuries and a thin depth chart, really could have used one more season, and many thought he would get one. It's not one of the better jobs out there right now, so the timing seems off with all the competition out there for new coaches.

Miami Search Is Muddled
News out of Miami isn't great. The search committee cannot agree on candidates, and the one name that was the top of a messy list was Charlie Strong, and he has stated again and again that he doesn't want anything to do with this job. Strong feels, according to sources, that if he leaves Texas now, it may damage chances for other African-American coaches at major universities. I'm not sure that's true, but the truth may just be that he finally feels that he is moving the needle in Austin and doesn't want to start over again at the dumpster fire that has become Miami.
As of now, the students and former players on the committee want Butch Davis. The administration looks at Davis as a fallback option, and would prefer to keep looking in another direction, such as Rob Chudzinski (just one name). In any event, this seems no closer to getting locked in.

Change Could Be Coming at Tulane
Curtis Johnson is likely on his way out at Tulane, and started answering questions to the press today about his future. Of course, there is also an AD search underway. Current AD Dickson could end up making the move at a meeting this week, or early next week, but Johnson regressed big time this season. His excuse for losing in 2015? He thought the league was too tough for his squad. Boo hoo.

Big Names In UCF Search
UCF is drumming up a ton of interest, as Will Muschamp, Gene Chizik, and now Brian Polian join Florida Assistant Geoff Collins as possible candidates. The job has been on the high end of mid-major programs, and so it has gained some serious attention. The success rate of the AAC at the top of the league also adds to intrigue as well. One more name interested...Lane Kiffin. Start your swearing now.

Iowa State Drawing Interest
The Cyclone job is unsurprisingly open after Paul Rhoades was let go this week. ISU has always been a coaching graveyard of sorts, so anyone interested must have a plan of attack before taking it, and must not move in blindly. The first name interested in the job happens to be a favorite of mine, Willie Fritz of Georgia Southern according to coachingsearch.com quoting a report from Dennis Dobbs. Fritz is one solid football coach, and may be one of the best options available to the Cyclones.

Bill Snider Is Coming Back
Snider will not retire as many believed was possible after Kansas State failed to qualify for a bowl game this season. I felt now was an appropriate time for him to step aside given the state of the program and the need to rebuild, but he feels otherwise, and nobody will tell him differently in Manhattan.

Illinois Job Still Wide Open
The Illini have not locked in on anyone as they continue to also search for an AD. Bill Cubit is not out of the running officially, but it's hard for me to see him getting the job full time, and it is largely thought that the Illini would fight hard to hire Les Miles if and when he is let go at LSU. Of course, they'd have serious competition. Matt Campbell of Toledo, PJ Fleck of Western Michigan, and Rod Carey of Northern Illinois are all getting close looks here as well.

All Quiet on the Maryland Front
This job is currently generating zero buzz, and is one of the quietest searches of the major jobs that are open. I will report more as any info comes available, but this job isn't generating as much buzz as anyone initially thought it may.

Kendal Briles Applied For North Texas Job, Now denies Interest
Kendal Briles absolutely applied for the UNT job in recent days, but now has basically pulled himself away from the job, stating that he has zero interest in taking it if offered. No telling what has happened, and it may all be a smokescreen, so I would not count him out just yet. Mike Norvell of Arizona State is still a candidate, and there are others as well, but this thing isn't close to being resolved. One other name to watch here is Ed Lamb of Southern Utah, as he has done wonders in Cedar City, and has also applied.

Les Miles Likely To Be Officially Let Go Next Sunday
Miles has already had about all the conversation with administration officials as he's likely to have at this point, and all of his counter offers to remain have been shot down. LSU will likely cut the $15 million check next weekend, and the bidding war will be on. I see Miles lasting mere days on the open market, as every major school with an opening will be vying for his services. Jimbo Fisher is at the top of the list for the Tigers as a replacement, and if that happens, you could even see a Fisher for Miles swap, with Miles replacing Fisher at Florida State. It makes sense on so many levels.

Missouri's Top Target Is Herman
Tom Herman and the current AD worked together previously, so there is no doubt that Missouri is gunning for Herman, but will likely have to top the $3 million per year deal on the table for Herman to remain with Houston. If Herman stays at Houston, look for Justin Fuente (if not already snatched up by Virginia Tech), Matt Ruhle, Matt Campbell, and current DC Barry Odom to all get looks.

South Carolina Job Will Not Go To Shawn Elliott
Elliott was convinced as the interim coach that he was almost a lock to stay on next season, but after the loss to Citadel, and South Carolina's all around poor play this season, that is not going to happen. South Carolina is still targeting Kirby Smart of Alabama for the gig, but will make a hard run at Les Miles once he is let go at LSU.

UL-Monroe Situation Isn't Good
ULM has named a search committee for their open job, but it seems they are struggling to name an AD, as two of three candidates dropped out, and the third may not be available either. Stay tuned on that story, as a resolution will hopefully present itself in the next few days. Thus far, there is zero buzz about interested candidates for the job.

Clay Helton Strongly Considered For Permanent Job At USC
Program insiders are saying, eve after a 20 point loss to Oregon, that Helton has a major shot to stay on at USC as full time head coach, but it would seem that much rides on the UCLA game for the PAC-12 South title this weekend at the Coliseum. If the Trojans lose, that story could change, and the Trojans will be just one of many programs getting in a bidding war for Les Miles. The Trojans have the resources to go after him, but there is no telling as of now about any mutual feelings. You can bet that the Trojans will be involved, but they have not had a great deal of luck luring top talent to LA in recent years in the coaching ranks.

Montana State Pulls a Stunner, Fires Rob Ash
So much for the three year extension the school signed Rob Ash to last month. It's all out the window as after finishing 5-6 (his only losing season), Montana State fired him. This is one of the best jobs in FCS football, so it should generate lots of interest, and according to the Bozeman Chronicle, Oklahoma State assistant Jason McAdoo and Southern Utah coach Ed Lamb (a popular guy this offseason) are both early candidates. Carroll Coach Mike Van Diest is also a candidate. AD Peter Fields states that he plans to have a new coach in two weeks.

Maine Legend Jack Cosgrove Is Out
Jack Cosgrove has been removed from the head coaching job at Maine after 23 seasons. There is a search underway, and Cosgrove will move into an assistant AD role.

Dean Hood Out at Eastern Kentucky
In another surprise move, Hood is out at EKU after finishing 6-5. No word on replacements, but it was largely believed that his ouster came after EKU failed to come up in the FCS Playoff picture in a season when they were expected to make a run at the Ohio Valley title. EKU is making a move to try to move up to FBS football.

Cannon Done at Austin Peay
After a 1-34 run as head coach at APSU, Kirby Cannon is out as head coach of Austin Peay, long one of the worst football programs in FCS football. We will update as more info on the search comes available.

Chip Kelly Likely Out In Philadelphia At End of Season
There is no love lost in Philly between Kelly and the Eagles front office, and so it would seem, according to multiple reports, that Kelly is going to leave the Eagles one way or the other at the end of the season. While it is unlikely that Kelly winds up in college football in 2016, one cannot count it out as of now. Word is that Kelly and the Eagles are "sick of each other". Stay tuned

That's all for now...more as it becomes available.

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