Just a few nuggets, tidbits, rumors and, yes, actual news items to mention on the SEC coaching carousel this morning:
* Joker Phillips has filled out his coaching staff at Kentucky with the official hiring of Mike Cassity as the Wildcats’ defensive backs coach. Cassity’s replaces Steve Brown who went from defensive coordinator to co-defensive coordinator to gone in the span of two years.
Cassity has been at Marshall as secondary coach since 2009. He began his coaching career at Kentucky and handled DB duties there in 1980 and 1981. Joker Phillips was a freshman with the ’81 Cats.
* As noted in our headlines section and on our Facebook page yesterday — are you following us on Facebook? — the University of Florida has officially hired Jeff Dillman to be their new strength and conditioning coach.
Dillman is the former head of physical conditioning at the IMG Performance Institute in Bradenton, Florida. Previously, he served on the strength staff at LSU (for their 2003 BCS championship) and he was the head strength coach at Appalachian State when they won back-to-back national crowns in the FCS (2006 and 2007).
Dillman also served as strength coach at Appalachian State when when they won He replaces Mickey Marotti who recently left the Gator program to join ex-coach Urban Meyer at Ohio State.
* At Tennessee, Derek Dooley has three slots to fill on his staff and that’s making recruiting a bit more challenging. It’s been widely reported that UT has targeted Clemson’s Kevin Steele, who almost took the same job with the Vols two offseasons ago. Whether he would be willing to leave the ACC champs to join a head coach on the hot seat in Knoxville is anyone’s guess. Steele’s co-defensive coordinator at Clemson — Charlie Harbison — is also a name to watch.
Former LSU and North Carolina special teams (and defensive line) coach Joe Robinson has been mentioned in connection with UT’s open special teams coordinator slot. The Vols also have an opening at the linebacker position.
Keep an eye on current assistant Lance Thompson. He may be a fallback choice as UT’s coordinator, but he’s also coached both the D-line and linebackers in Knoxville, which might give Dooley some flexbility.
* Kevin Sumlin continues to fill out his staff at Texas A&M. According to multiple reports, Kliff Kingsbury will serve as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Former Kansas co-offensive coordinator David Beaty is expected to join the Aggie staff as receivers coach. BJ Anderson will move from Houston to cover the offensive line duties.
On defense, three names bear watching: Michigan State’s Pat Narduzzi, Northwestern’s Mike Hanwitz (who just allowed 33 points and 300+ yards passing to A&M in a bowl game), and Chris Wilson of Mississippi State.
Wilson coached with Sumlin on Oklahoma’s staff from 2005 through 2008.
* With success comes interest from other schools. New Illinois head coach Tim Beckman has raided Vanderbilt for receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Chris Beatty. Beatty — who joined James Franklin’s staff after a successful stint at West Virginia — will be the co-offensive coordinator for the Illini.
Franklin said, “We did some things to try to keep him, but I wouldn’t do anything to mess up the chemistry on our staff right now.” The coach said he is already interviewing four candidates to replace Beatty.
* At Auburn, Gene Chizik is still working to find to replacements for offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn and defensive coordinator Ted Roof. One candidate to take over the Tigers’ defense is now off the table.
Florida State announced yesterday that D-coordinator Mark Stoops has been given a new contract worth $568,850 per year, which is nearly a $130,000-a-year raise. According to The Tallahassee Democrat, both Auburn and Texas A&M made runs at Stoops. Some reports have claimed Chizik offered Stoops somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 million to come to the Plains.
* Current Alabama receivers coach Mike Groh continues to be mentioned as a possible replacement for departing offensive coordinator Jim McElwain. Nick Saban has said he’s more focused on the BCS title game — naturally — than on filling his coordinator slot. Saban also runs a pretty tight-lipped search. So it’s possible that Groh is getting write-ups and being mentioned on the Tuscaloosa grapevine because there are no other leads to follow at the moment.
* Hugh Freeze continues to put together his first staff at Ole Miss. For those who haven’t been keeping track, his current line-up of assistants reads as follows: Dave Wommack (defensive coordinator and safeties), Tom Allen (linebackers), Chris Kiffin (defensive line), Derrick Nix (retained as running backs coach), Matt Luke (offensive line), and Maurice Harris (tight ends and recruiting coordinator).
Freeze was unable to hang on to Gunter Brewer who left to join Larry Fedora’s first staff at North Carolina.