We’ll pick up this morning where we left off last evening… on the coaching carousel. Here are the latest moves and rumored moves from across the SEC, starting with the last remaining head coaching vacancy.
* Texas A&M interviewed Southern Miss’ Larry Fedora twice, but North Carolina appears to have (finally) sealed the deal with the C-USA champion coach. Fedora is a College Station native — and he was the top choice for many Aggie fans — but it looks like that ship has now sailed.
All told, just about every name but Knute Rockne’s has been attached to the job, but that’s a product of some serious spin. A&M officials are leaking big-time names to give their job a boost and several agents are floating their clients’ names to build their cred. Mark Richt, Kyle Whittingham, Dabo Swinney, Art Briles, Charlie Strong and Dan Mullen (of course), have all been tied to the job via reports and/or rumors.
In reality, it looks like the Aggies are headed toward Houston’s Kevin Sumlin, though Air Force’s Troy Calhoun reportedly interviewed well.
* Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart has interviewed for the A&M job. But it’s not believed he’s near the top of the Aggies’ list. In fact, his counterpart at Alabama may leave Tuscaloosa before Smart.
Offensive coordinator Jim McElwain is one of the finalists for the job and internet reports claim he is already working on terms with the Tigers. If he does land the Memphis job, we’d like to wish him and his head coaching career well… because neither will be heard from again. If Miami of Ohio is the “cradle of coaches,” then Memphis is the graveyard.
Another Alabama coach has also been connected to a new job via the rumor mill…
* Arkansas is looking for a new defensive coordinator following the dismissal of Willy Robinson yesterday and Tide assistant head coach and linebackers coach Sal Sunseri is a candidate.
Former Arizona head coach Mike Stoops, Joe Whitt Jr., and Mike Gillhamer have also been connected to the job via online reports and scuttlebutt that we’ve picked up from speaking to folks close to the UA program.
* One name that rarely pops up in connection to head coaching jobs is that of LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis. But he remains one of the game’s top assistants as evidenced by his winning the 2011 Broyles Award yesterday, an honor that goes to the season’s top assistant coach.
Chavis beat out former Arkansas offensive coordinator Garrick McGee and Alabama linebackers coach Sal Sunseri among others.
* Yesterday, South Carolina lost running backs coach Jay Graham to Tennessee. Today, Ellis Johnson — the Cocks’ assistant head coach, assistant coach of defense, and linebackers coach — is reportedly a leading candidate for the head coaching job at Southern Miss. Carolina’s de facto defensive coordinator has ties to Mississippi, but he has deeper ties to Columbia and the Palmetto State. From speaking to connections at USC, we would be surprised if Johnson departed.
* Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn has said that he wants to be a head coach at some point. Last year he turned down overtures from Vanderbilt and Maryland. Initially he was expected to be a serious contender for the North Carolina job, but it appears that was not to be.
His name is currently being mentioned with regards to the open job at Kansas, but would a man who passed on Vandy and Maryland jump to a comparable, bottom-of-the-league job in the Big 12? We expect Malzahn to be back at Auburn next year.
* At Mississippi State, fans are once again having to deal with rumors of their head coach exiting. Mullen — as noted above — had his name tied to the vacancy at Texas A&M earlier this week. His name continues to pop up in connection with the Penn State opening as well, though the coach denied last week that there was anything to those initial reports.
At the very least, Mullen’s agent likes to float his client’s name whenever a top job becomes available.