Tuesday, December 6, 2016

As the Coaching Carousel Turns: 12/6/16 Edition

It's time to catch up after taking a day or two off to get regrouped on what is going on with coaching searches all over the nation. Let me update everyone from job to job, starting with the Power 5 and working down from there.

I start with this job, as Baylor made a completely out of left field hire in Temple's Matt Ruhle today. Ruhle has built onto a foundation that Al Golden started at Temple, and has made that formerly toxic waste dump that was ready to drop football into a viable winner in Philadelphia, which is a college football wasteland. Ruhle has a massive mess left on his hands from the handling of the sexual assault situation and the Art Briles fiasco that followed it. The entire 2017 recruiting class is virtually wiped out, and Ruhle has to start from the ground up there. There will be some massive bumps in the road, and it will be Ruhle building the foundation this time, with virtually no Texas ties to boot. Baylor has largely bungled this job search from day one, and had most of the last 8 months to do it. That is not saying that Ruhle is not a good coach, he is. The issue is that the foundation at Baylor crumbled to dust, and he has absolutely nothing left in the cupboard from which to build.

This hiring of Butch Davis, despite past transgressions with the NCAA, was a showing by this administration that FIU is taking football seriously. Davis was a big time hire for this program, and they are moving in a solid direction for the future with this grab. Davis' hiring of Brent Guy for DC was solid, as was the hiring of Dan Hawkins for OC, before Hawkins left to become the head manat FCS UC Davis.

Fresno State
Fresno State jumped early, not even waiting until the end of the regular season to hire former Cal coach Jeff Tedford. For me, this hire was a complete knee jerk, and better candidates could have lined up for this job if the Bulldog administration had just been patient and waited a couple of weeks longer. Mark Helfrich, who would have been a solid fit here, would have been available, and Fresno State would have had a solid shot to go for him. Tedford faded badly at Cal, and APR rates plummeted under his watch. This was an odd reach for a program that could have done so much better.

The fact that Indiana waited a whole year after first hearing reports of mistreatment of players made the firing of Kevin Wilson far more political than it had to be. What made matters worse was an immediate jump to hire DC Tom Allen to a 6 year contract made this situation into the bizarre. This whole situation is a complete train wreck, and Allen may not be any better of an answer than Wilson, who never finished better than .500, and that was with Allen.

There is no knock on Ed Orgeron here, but one has to think that LSU could have hired a higher profile candidate than Orgeron with the snap of a set of fingers. Tom Herman was on the list, but wanted to wait it out until he weighed out Texas before making a call on LSU. Why would any candidate pick Texas over LSU at this point, when LSU is already positioned to win right away, and Texas is questionable in that regard? Politics. LSU really screwed the pooch on the Les Miles situation to the point where the governor of the state had to step in last year. It would seem that very few candidates wanted to be tied up into that, and having to run against Alabama every year was also a consideration. Coach Orgeron did a solid job, but he was hardly the best candidate for the position, especially at a program like LSU.

Jeff Brohm became a late in the game candidate after PJ Fleck basically told them that he wanted a Power 5 job, just not THAT Power 5 job. Fleck let it be known within hours after the MAC title game that he was not interested in Purdue, and the wheels were immediately turned into the direction of Brohm. Even Brohm made Purdue stew for a day or so before accepting an offer that was squarely on the table to coach the Boilermakers, as he wanted to continue talks with Baylor before accepting. Brohm has been a winner at Western Kentucky, but that was in a league where defense is not a requisite thing for winning. That will not be the case in the Big 10, and Brohm had better hire one hell of a DC to survive here, because he knows absolutely nothing on the subject.

Tom Herman was hired, but he was never the unanimous choice among the power brokers in Austin. Herman was always the top target of any school with an opening, but he had cooled before beating Louisville late in the season. Losses to Navy and SMU in conference play were unexpected, and cost Houston the AAC West Division title that was supposed to be theirs with a bow on it. If Herman loses winnable games like that at Texas, the dogs will be out to get him fairly early. I am not certain that Herman was actually the best candidate for any job available, but he was certainly sold as one.

Now I move on to jobs that are still open, starting with Power 5 jobs, and moving into Group of 5 gigs...

For a program with all of the money and resources of Oregon, this search after the firing of Mark Helfrich have been a mess. Oregon had deep talks with PJ Fleck, but they were never on the same page from the beginning. Fleck is no longer a candidate. When Matt Ruhle of Temple became an 11th hour candidate at Baylor, Oregon made a hard press after him, even though philosophically, you would not expect a match there. Ruhle spurned the Ducks advances for the Baylor job eventually, leaving the Ducks empty handed once again. According to John Canzano, there are a mutlitude of ongoing interviews, including Greg Schiano, who again, seems to be a poor fit for what the Ducks do. The only other candidates who are actively on passive sonar here are Bryan Harsin and Willie Taggart, who both have already had talks. As I said on Twitter today, Taggart seems to be the best fit for the Ducks, but it is like they want something bigger, and that something is just not there for the taking. Again, this firing and search have been a mess from the word go.

Tommy Tuberville stepped down this week to nobody's surprise, especially not mine. I have always felt that he has long been one of the most overrated coaches in the nation, and I questioned his viability when he left a strong Power 5 job at Texas Tech to step down to the Cincinnati job. Cincinnati is not a landing spot, it is a stepping stone job, and likely always will be until they land themselves in a Power 5 conference, if that indeed ever happens. According to sources in the Cincinnati media, The search is already down to a solid three candidates for the job, with Charlie Strong possibly being among the group. Luke Fickell and Greg Schiano are also pursuing this position, and two other Ohio State assistants, Ed Warriner and Kerry Coombs were lkely in the mix at one point as well. We should know fairly shortly which way this will go.

This search seems to be out of focus currently, with names coming from every angle and every source. Patrick Chun has his Ohio State ties, and Luke Fickell and Greg Schiano were both on the original list, but both are currently hunting for the Cincinnati job, and Schiano is now apparently involved to some degree with the Oregon search. Landing either at this point seems like a low chance shot. Stan Drayton, Chicago Bears RB Coach was a finalist when the job went to Charlie Partridge, and he could be in play once again, but that seems, again, to be a low percentage shot. Greg Davis, Joe Moorhead, and Garrick McGee were all listed as possible connections, but all three could be making more money as coordinators in the Big 10, especially with what Moorhead has done at Penn State. Higher percentage chances could go among a list of names including Eddie Gran, Mario Christobal, Mike DeBord, and Randy Shannon, and that is the pool that I am concentrating on here. In short, FAU has to make a very solid hire, because local rival FIU made a huge splash getting Butch Davis.

Georgia State
There seems to be no pressing time frame to hire a coach here, alhough I have heard that the Panthers want a new coach in place by 12/15. There is a ton of feet dragging going on here, and instead of closing ranks and whittling down candidates, this list seems to be increasing, with Mel Tucker of Georgia ending up in the hat just days ago. Interviews have begun, but information is slow in coming, and it seems as if there really is no real movement forward here.

I would not believe much of what anyone hears about negotiations with Lane Kiffin at Houston, as the latest has Houston pressing with a massive buyout. I don't see this marriage happening, but I would not go so far as to call it dead, as these things can change in minutes. Les Miles has interviewed and is a candidate. Art Briles has not, and is not, and will not be, If Kiffin were a slam dunk, Lincoln Riley would not be a brand new candidate to the mix, as he now is. Todd Orlando, the current interim interviewed over the weekend, and there is zero news about the involement concerning Major Applewhite. Stay tuned here, as it seems that there is also a war brewing between mega booster Tillman Fertitta and the school itself, as Fertitta is acting as some unsanctioned mouthpiece regarding this search.

This search is winding down, and apparently a hire could be made sometime this coming weekend. Eastern Washington coach Beau Baldwin, Vanderbilt and former Utah OC Andy Ludwig, and Arizona State WR Coach Jay Norvell seem to be the final three candidates, according to the Reno Gazette. Anyone else previously mentioned are no longer candidates.

San Jose State
The trail has gone cold at SJSU this week, with nothing new ready to report. It would seem that a conversation did take place with Pat Hill, but that has not gone anywhere at this point. Oklahoma State RB Coach Marcus Arroyo is in the mix, as is Colorado Offensive Line coach Klayton Adams, who was formerly on the staff at SJSU under Mike MacIntyre, both according to web site coachingsearch.com. Here is little to no other serious buzz about this job.

With Matt Ruhle gone today to Baylor, this job is wide open. Temple has to be very careful with this hire, as a wrong move could dismantle everything that was built under the watch of Al Golden and Matt Ruhle. I should have more information sometime tomorrow, but I would expect Temple to contact Penn State OC Joe Moorhead fairly shortly.

Western Kentucky
Current interim coach Nick Holt and Special Teams coach, and former Houston head coach Tony Levine are early candidates to replace Jeff Brohm at WKU. According to the Bowling Green Daily News, other candidates could include Neal Brown of Troy, USC QB coach Tyson Helton, Ole Miss Co-OC Matt Luke, Tennessee Titans QB coach Jason Michael, Ed Warriner of Ohio State, and ISF Co-OC Todd Weist. Stay tuned in the coming days for this to come into better focus.

More on FCS jobs and the above mentioned jobs in the next 24 to 36 hours.

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