Tony Dungy? Really? Why would a Super Bowl winning coach like Coach Dungy even consider a job like Ole (We) Miss(ed) (Again)?
There’s already one coaching vacancy in the state of Mississippi. According to the rumor mill, there might be another SEC school in the Magnolia State that will have to go looking for a new coach soon.
Starting with the known opening at Ole Miss, Southern Miss’ Larry Fedora continues to be the focus of most of the talk. Makes sense. In four years at USM he’s taken the Golden Eagles from back-to-back 7-6 seasons to 8-5 all the way to 10-2 and the C-USA Championship Game this year. Before moving to Hattiesburg, Fedora was an offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State and at Florida (under Ron Zook).
His proximity and reputation as a solid recruiter make him a natural leader for the job Archie Manning and crew are trying to fill. But his name is also popping up in connection with other jobs — North Carolina for one.
For now, Fedora isn’t talking about about the Ole Miss job… and that’s to be expected. His team is prepping for unbeaten Houston in the C-USA title bout.
Meanwhile, Louisiana-Lafayette’s Mark Hudspeth — a former Dan Mullen assistant at MSU — is believed to be rising up the UM charts. Reports claim he interviewed with the Rebels’ search committee Sunday in New Orleans.
While a BleacherReports.com post claimed Arkansas State’s Hugh Freeze had already agreed to take the Memphis job — totally false — the school has actually released a statement saying that Freeze does not have permission this week to speak with other schools. The Red Wolves face Troy this weekend.
Freeze was an assistant in Oxford under Ed Orgeron and he reportedly made a good impression on folks in the UM administration.
For Fedora, Hudspeth and Freeze, Ole Miss is a step up. Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart is also on the Rebels’ watch list, but would he really want to get his start at the bottom of the SEC West at a school that’s never been to the SEC title game? The money would be good and there’s nothing wrong having the letters S-E-C on the resume, but Smart’s career might be better aided by him starting elsewhere.
Plus, how many Nick Saban acolytes have gone on to great success in coaching? The most high-profile former Saban aides are Jimbo Fisher (Florida State fans are mad at him), Derek Dooley (Tennessee fans are mad at him), and Will Muschamp (Florida fans are already mad at him). All of those coaches are relative newbies on the big stage, but that’s hardly a track record of great success.
For his part, Saban says Smart is ready. “Leadership is really an important part of being a head of anything, a business or whatever it is, and I think Kirby is a great leader,” Saban said yesterday. He also said he thinks Smart will make “an outstanding head coach.”
We still believe Ole Miss would be wise to check out one of the coaches who beat the Rebels this year — Sonny Dykes from Louisiana Tech.
The Mississippi job might not be the only opening in the Magnolia State if the rumor-mongers and messageboarders are correct. Mississippi State’s Mullen has emerged as one of the most talked about candidates to replace Joe Paterno at Penn State.
MSU fans went down this road with Miami rumors last year only to hang onto their coach. Would Mullen make the move to State College this year?
On the surface, Penn State is one of the best college football jobs in America. It’s the top school in a fertile recruiting zone and the Big Ten isn’t as cutthroat and tough as the SEC at the moment.
Below the surface, someone’s going to have a major clean-up job on his hands — and we still don’t know what the NCAA might due to the Nittany Lions’ program. Plus, while Joe Paterno’s name is now tarnished, don’t forget, PSU students rioted to keep him. And Penn State fans are used to winning big — over the long haul — with Paterno. They won’t be patient regardless of the circumstances.
* Vanderbilt’s James Franklin has had his name attached to the Penn State job as well.
* Gus Malzahn — once believed to be the leader for the North Carolina head coaching job — has reportedly dropped a bit with Auburn’s recent offensive struggles.
* At Tennessee, fans are waiting to see if Derek Dooley makes any sudden moves on his coaching staff. Rumors emerged last yesterday that offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and offensive line coach Harry Hiestand had been let go. Naturally, those rumors were false.
* Joker Phillips is safe at Kentucky, but there’s much speculation about who from his staff might be let go following the Cats’ first non-bowl season in six years. Offensive coordinator Randy Sanders — who’d done an excellent job until this year — might be a fall guy since defensive coordinator Rick Minter has just wrapped his first year in the Bluegrass State. Minter’s defense struggled as much as Sanders’ offense until the season’s final two weeks.