Tuesday, December 1, 2015

As the Coaching Carousel Turns: 12/1/15

As the Coaching Carousel Turns: 12/1/15
Thanksgiving 2015 has come and gone, and several coaches across the nation aren’t feeling very grateful or thankful right now, while others are getting amazing opportunities to further their careers. Last weekend was full of change, some good, while others were questionable. I am back from the road, so here is what is going on with all of the available jobs across the nation in FBS and FCS Football.

Mark Richt has officially been let go, and while this was probably coming for some time, expectations for the program were too high in 2015 to begin with. Richt never had a decent QB to run with this season, and once Nick Chubb went down for the season about midway through, the Bulldogs had little chance to compensate for what was becoming a bad offense at that point. Of course, hiring Brian Schottenheimer to run the offense was never a good fit, and Jeremy Pruitt was a divisive force on the staff at DC, so there were several recipes for a big mess, which is exactly what was apparent by the end. Richt is a winner, and even though he never produced an SEC title during his tenure, he will likely get another job lined up before too long. His family wants him to take a year off, but the reality is that Richt has a really good shot at a few different jobs now, so that time off think is not going to happen.
As far as who is in line to take the job, Georgia has few options that are as stable as Richt was with the Bulldogs, even now. Even Vince Dooley stated when asked about what kind of coach would succeed at Georgia, that they should just hire Mark Richt, the man they just fired.
Prospect number one is Alabama DC Kirby Smart, but Smart has never been a head coach before, and even though he has a sterling reputation, he may not be the best fit for a program that demands conference titles and wins over the likes of Florida, Auburn, and Alabama. A search committee is being put together, but other than Smart, no other names are buzzing about this job just yet.

The ULM job is probably one of the worst available as of this moment, with the worst pay for both a head coach and assistants available, and the facilities aren’t up to par as well. ULM is going to have to dig deep to find a candidate that would work in Monroe, because the logistics are not attractive. Even hiring a Power 5 assistant would be a stretch at this point, as most of those candidates would be taking a pay cut to get to this job.
ULM should look at a pool that consists of Southern Utah’s Ed Lamb, Charleston Southern’s Jamey Chadwell, Coastal Carolina’s Joe Moglia, James Madison’s Everett Withers, Brock Spack of Illinois State, John Grass of Jacksonville State, Kerwin Bell of Jacksonville, Mike Houston of Citadel, and Matt Viator of McNeese State. Another interesting fit would be former 49ers coach Mike Singletary, who is desperately seeking another job, even one in the college ranks.

This job has not been as popular as the administration hoped it would be, as the Under Armor money buzz has not seemed to factor in here whatsoever early on. The three top candidates at this point appear to be Mark Richt, who is expected to meet with Maryland shortly, San Diego Chargers assistant Frank Reich, and Toronto Argonauts coach Scott Milanovich.
If Richt does not end up going to Miami, he could be the top choice here.

Miami lowballed Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen last time they talked about the job, but the two sides are negotiating again. Mullen is looking to get out of Mississippi State before the roof caves in with the departure of Dak Prescott, as the program is likely to take a nice sized step back without him at QB. Mullen makes $4 million per year at Miami, so that is the ball park of what this will cost them. I am not sure they have that kind of money to spend here, so the fall back options appear to be Greg Schiano, who has seemingly shown no interest in returning to Rutgers, and Butch Davis.
Mullen is clearly the top target as I type this article, unless Mark Richt comes into play late, and all indications are that both sides have an interest in the other.

It appears that with the departure of Justin Fuente to Virginia Tech, all eyes are on former Tigers assistant and current Missouri DC Barry Odom as the replacement. The Tigers administration has not seriously entered into talks with any other candidates, and it seems like a matter of getting the details right to lure Odom away from Missouri.
The only hitch appears to be whether or not Missouri intends to give serious consideration to offering Odom the job to remain as head coach in Columbia in 2016. He has had talks with the administration about staying, and so we are at the point where a decision must be made.

Speaking of Missouri, Odom has had talks, and has interviewed, but the Tigers are looking at other parties as well. That may cost them Odom, who could leave at any moment for Memphis. Matt Ruhle of Temple interviewed with Missouri in the last 48 hours, and has since announced that he has no interest in the job. Matt Wells of Utah State, who is coming off of a very disappointing season in Logan, is also interviewing very soon. With Ruhle bowing out, it seems that Missouri is running out of top tier options.
Update: Add the names of Air Force coach Troy Calhoun and Colorado State’s Mike Bobo as options. Both interviewed in the Denver area this week, while Sonny Dykes is expected to interview later this week.

North Texas
All signs are that North Carolina assistant Seth Litrell is getting this job after Dusty Meacham bowed out today. Meacham, co-OC at TCU, was reported as having accepted the job, but that news was clearly premature, and left Meacham with no recourse but to publicly deny his interest, and subsequently pull his name out of the hat altogether. Litrell seems to be the only candidate remaining after Kendal Briles also pulled his name last week.

Rutgers finally made their change over the weekend after a loss to Maryland ended the 2015 season for the Scarlet Knights, which was followed by the firings of both Kyle Flood and AD Julie Hermann. Neither of those moves were a shock, and so the Scarlet Knights find themselves in a rather bad situation all the way around.
It appears that nobody, and I mean nobody, really wants this job openly. Rutgers is said to have severe financial restrictions, and the department isn’t doing very well at all. Money is tight for a hire, and so the program has to look hard at whom they can bring in. The AD situation has been ironed out, as former Seton Hall associate AD Pat Hobbs was immediately hired to fill the void. Now that there is a boss on campus, the pause may ease, but I do not see Rutgers being the kind of job that will generate huge interest.
One name Rutgers may want to consider is Harvard coach Tim Murphy, a man who has had his name attached to multiple jobs for years now. Murphy knows how to navigate a difficult situation academically, while producing on the field, and could be a very nice fit. Stay tuned here.

South Carolina
Like Georgia, the Gamecocks are aiming for Kirby Smart of Alabama, and just today, Georgia DC Jeremy Pruitt, who’s reign with the Bulldogs ended in chaos this week, is also a name in the mix, as is Auburn DC Will Muschamp. None of those names will excite the fan base other than Smart. The AD wants a new coach within the next two weeks, but there seems to be a drain in top tier candidates for the gig right now.

With Scott Shafer having been shown the door, the Orange job is open. The primary name attached to the job is still Ed Orgeron, who has publically stumped for the gig. Other than Orgeron, there have been few other candidates of note. I fully expect Syracuse to go after some of the big names in the MAC after the title game is played this Friday. I expect to see PJ Fleck of Western Michigan, Rod Carey of Northern Illinois, and Dino Babers of Bowling Green in the mix here. Babers recently was thought to have accepted the UCF job, and then promptly denied it.

Matt Campbell jumped for a job that I found to be far below him in Iowa State this week, leaving the premier job in the MAC wide open. It would not be shocking to see a current staffer move up, much like Campbell did after Tim Beckman jumped to Illinois. This is a solid job, and several staffers have moved on to Iowa State with Campbell. If not someone from within that remains, Look for this job to end up in the hands of a high profile FBS assistant or a rising FCS head coach.

Curtis Johnson, as predicted, was let go by Tulane this week. Johnson was a miserable failure at Tulane, and the change was an absolute must. Thus far, Houston Nutt has made himself into a candidate for the job, and will interview. Terry Bowden of Akron has made his interest known as well. Neither of these coaches appear to be the current target however, and with a new AD being hired any day now, we should see a much clearer picture of who Tulane is interested in by the weekend.

Mike London was allowed to linger for weeks at Virginia before finally being dismissed last Sunday. With London gone, the Cavaliers will have to figure out how they want to be identified moving forward. Apparently, UVA is one of five schools who have contacted former Georgia coach Mark Richt, and he will interview there by the end of the week. No other current candidates have been named, but one other to watch is James Madison coach Everett Withers, as he coaches in state, and has a record of success as an assistant at Ohio State. UVA has shown a liking of FCS coaches in the past, including with London, as he came from Richmond.


Again, as predicted by this site weeks ago, Hawaii hired former QB Nick Rolovich, who had most recently been OC at Nevada. Rolovich is a hire made with eyes forward rather than backward, which is what it would have been if they had indeed gone back to June Jones. Rolovich has a history with UH, and he should be a breath of fresh air within the administration and in recruiting. This was a solid hire for a desperate program.

The current administration stated this week that there was never any intent not to give the full time job to Bill Cubit, and they did just that over the weekend, even before the Illini fell to Northwestern. Cubit was given a two year deal. I am not sure that this was the perfect move by Illinois, but they did not sell themselves out with a long term contract, and made a move that will not handcuff themselves if it doesn’t work out. With all of the competition in the open market right now, the Illini just simply chose to stay out of this race.

Iowa State
I think that the hiring of Matt Campbell was a better grab for Iowa State than it was for Matt Campbell, but the former Toledo coach is now all theirs. Campbell could have had much better jobs in the open market, as ISU has been a coaching graveyard for years. The best that Campbell can hope to do is get the Cyclones into the middle of the Big 12 pool, and then jump for better waters. Iowa State is ecstatic about this hire, as they should be, but the rest of us appear to be confused.

Tracy Klaeys is the official head coach of the Gophers, but that has been known. What is not known is how the rest of the staff will look in 2016. Klaeys states that he will examine the staff in the coming days and weeks.

The Knights whiffed at their first attempt to lock down a coach when Dino Babers apparently accepted, and then declined the offer made when it was announced immediately rather than waiting until after the MAC title game to make the announcement. UCF was forced into a take 2 situation, and this time they struck by hiring Oregon OC Scott Frost as their new head coach to replace the retired George O’Leary.
Frost is an innovative young coach who will likely bring a whole new energy to Orlando, and will bring his up tempo Oregon offense to UCF immediately. Once he recruits, this could be dangerous. Overall, UCF did a solid job with this hire, even if it was bungled initially.

Clay Helton got the job officially after beating UCLA, but not because USC didn’t try to get anyone else, anyone at all, to take the job instead. USC reached out to Chip Kelly and Jack Del Rio of the NFL in recent days, and both coaches refused them. According to AD Pat Haden, he reached out to a total of 17 different coaches, until finally settling on Helton. I am not certain I’d feel too secure if I were Helton, as being the 18th choice is never an easy place to be in.

Virginia Tech
Whit Babcock spent very little time in finding his man, and he jumped quickly to nab Justin Fuente of Memphis, as Fuente was one of the hottest names on the carousel. This is a strong move for Tech, and Bud Foster comes as part of the package. I am not sure why Foster was never given the job himself, and he may feel strange about this, but it could work well. Parts of Fuente’s Memphis staff have already signed on, so this could be a fun ride after recruiting gets going.

FCS Coaching News

Austin Peay
Kirby Cannon was officially let go last week, and now APSU is seeking a new coach after Cannon went 1-34 during his tenure. The administration is looking to make a move fairly quickly, as they announced they would have a new coach by the 15th of this month.

Eastern Kentucky
Dean Hood was let go after EKU fell short in the Ohio Valley race and finished at 6-5. The Colonels are trying to make a move into FBS football, and felt a new direction was needed to make that move successful in the near future. No word on candidates as of yet.

Jackson State
Harold Jackson was let go during the season, and there is still no new news about this job. Rod Broadway of North Carolina A&T, Jerry Mack of North Carolina Central, and Terry Sims of Bethune-Cookman could all be targets at this point, but I am not sure any of them would want to leave their current situations.

Jack Cosgrove retired after 23 seasons as head coach at Maine last week. The search has been quiet, but I will be researching a list of candidates later this week, and likely over the weekend.

Montana State
Rob Ash was fired last week after having been given a three year extension just weeks ago. This comes on the heels of a defensive collapse in a loss to Montana, which is a theme that has been recurrent during Ash’s time at MSU. Two big names are currently considered candidates in former UNLV and Montana head coach Bobby Hauck and former Boise State and Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins. The current OC Tim Cramsey has been interviewed, and Washington State assistant Jeff Choate will also garner consideration.

South Dakota
Joe Glenn has retired after basically having his best year at USD since he returned. No replacement or timetable to find one has been announced.

Southern Illinois
Dale Lennon has been let go within the last couple of days. I will be researching this position later this week.

Texas Southern
Darrell Asberry is out with the Tigers, and again, I will update as I have more info on this one.

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