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SEC Coaching Carousel Update – 11/26/12

With four jobs now open — Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky, and Tennessee — here’s the latest news and gossip concerning each SEC coaching search:

 

Arkansas

Razorbacks AD Jeff Long reportedly met with the Arkansas team yesterday and told them that his timetable for hiring a new coach is 10-14 days.  The fact that Long had an eight-month head start on all other schools but didn’t have a hire ready to announce as soon as the season ended isn’t sitting well with many Hog fans.  So long as Arkansas finds the right guy, all will be fine in the long run.  But in this day and age, fans aren’t going to be patient.

Reports have already tied Arkansas to TCU’s Gary Patterson.  We believe UA representatives spoke with Patterson’s reps before a breakdown in discussions a couple of weeks back.  This communication could kick up again, but at the moment it appears Patterson will stay put in Fort Worth.

Jon Gruden was reportedly offered the Razorbacks job and turned it down last week.  It’s also been reported that Arkansas officials reached out to representatives for Vanderbilt’s James Franklin (though VU athletic director David Williams has said he’ll do whatever it takes to keep his coach in Nashville).  A new name has been added to big-spending Arkansas’ wish list — that of Boise State’s Chris Petersen — but it’s unlikely he’ll move.  He’s turned down just about every premier job in the country at this point and it’s quite possible that he saw what happened to Dan Hawkins when he left Boise for Colorado.  Perhaps Petersen would rather be a big fish in a small pond than vice versa.

The fact that UA has been tied to so many coaches suggests that Long really didn’t do a whole lotta agent-contacting before season’s end.  Fair or not, many in the UA fanbase believe the AD failed to do enough legwork during the season.

And anyone hoping Arkansas would rush back and rehire Bobby Petrino can likely forget that one.  Long made a point of saying this weekend that UA will look for a coach with “discipline, honesty and integrity.”  You can bet Long doesn’t feel Petrino fits those criteria.

 

Auburn

With NCAA officials on AU’s trail — again — and coming off a 3-9 season capped by a 49-0 beatdown by Alabama, Gene Chizik was blown up yesterday as expected.  The man who hired Iowa State’s 5-19 coach four years ago — AD Jay Jacobs — had this to say: “After careful consideration and a thorough evaluation of our football program, I have recommended that Coach Chizik not be retained.  President (Jay) Gogue has accepted my recommendation.  Earlier this morning, I informed Gene that he will not return as head coach.”

Jacobs won’t be running a one-man search this time around as a group of former Auburn players (Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan, Mac Crawford) will aid the athletic director.  Perhaps it’s better than allowing Jacobs to make another hire by his lonesome, but we’re not sure Bo Knows how to find a football coach.  Sullivan is the current coach at Samford, so how he has time to help Auburn in its search is anyone’s guess.  Crawford is a former Tiger fullback turned “CEO turnaround expert,” according to Jacobs.

Chizik and his staff will receive a total buyout of $11.09 million.  Jacobs said yesterday that AU “will move as quickly as possible in the search” but he would not discuss candidates.  Petrino’s name was mentioned to MrSEC.com by more than one Auburn source over the past month, but that talk has cooled quite a bit since then.

Former Chizik assistant and current Arkansas State coach Gus Malzahn, Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart — now that would be an eye-opening hire — and Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher are all believed to be candidates on the Plains.  One industry source told this site that Fisher would prefer Auburn’s opening to Tennessee’s due to AU’s close proximity to his current recruiting base in Tallahassee, but it’s likely Fisher and agent Jimmy Sexton will simply flirt with both schools in an effort to gain more power, money or both at FSU.

Jeff Fisher’s name has also been kicked around, but we can’t see the St. Louis Rams coach — who makes $7 million a season — leaving the NFL for the college ranks.  Vandy’s Franklin has been listed as a possibility as well.

The fact that Chizik was fired at all proves that we are now in an age when coaches are literally only as good as their last season.  Just two years ago, Chizik was lifting the BCS crystal football.  Now he’ll be lifting the hatch on a U-Haul to clear out his office.  Remarkable, really.

 

Kentucky

UK officials had to downplay reports last week that they had offered the Wildcats’ job to Cincinnati head coach Butch Jones.  Reports over the weekend suggested that Jones might actually be stringing the Cats along in hopes of getting his name into the mix at Tennessee.

From the day Joker Phillips was ousted, two up-and-comer coaches have repeatedly been tied to Kentucky’s job: Lousiana Tech’s Sonny Dykes and San Jose State’s Mike MacIntyre.  Dykes was once an assistant at Kentucky under Hal Mumme and he’s created a powerful offense in Ruston.  MacIntyre is the son of former Vandy coach George MacIntyre and he’s served as an assistant at both Ole Miss and Georgia.  He also has ties back to UK athletic director Mitch Barnhart via Barnhart contacts Bill Parcells and David Cutcliffe.

If we were betting, we’d put our money on MacIntyre because our sources tell us he’s a real hotshot-to-be who can sell a program (which is a need at UK).  That said, it’s been reported that UK has interviewed Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops for its job, too.  Mark served as the D-coordinator at Arizona under his brother Mike Stoops before moving to Tallahassee in 2009.  He is the younger brother of Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops.  He also has a profile that seems to fit Barnhart’s past hires.

Another name being whispered these days belongs to Utah State’s Gary Anderson, but we believe Anderson trails MacIntyre, Dykes and Stoops.  Jones, too, depending on whether or not Jones/UK can rekindle their talks.

Cutcliffe was expected to be a candidate by many, but he’s signed an extension at Duke.  Many, many Wildcat fans are in favor of grabbing Petrino, but it’s not believed Barnhart will even consider the seemingly radioactive ex-Arkansas coach.

 

Tennessee

Gruden, Gruden, Gruden, Gruden and Gruden.  If the next Vol coach isn’t named Gruden — and that’s Jon, not Jay — a lot of orange-clad folks are going to be awfully upset.  According to our sources, they’d better prepare to be upset.

Despite a remarkable series of “it’s a done deal” rumors, Gruden has always been a longshot to leave the ESPN announcing booth, bypass possible NFL openings, and land back in the college game for the first time in 20 years.  Last week, we reported that Gruden’s monetary demands had dropped a tad and that that had brought his status back into play, but by week’s end one source close to the UT situation told us the deal was “as dead as Marley’s ghost.”

Interestingly, Tennessee AD Dave Hart seems to believe that he can land a big-name coach for Tennessee.  He has ties to Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops who is believed to be tiring of hard-to-satisfy Oklahoma fans.  As we’ve said regarding Georgia’s Mark Richt, once a coach serves at a place for a decade, it’s probably time to start looking elsewhere… but rarely do coaches actually do that.  (Which is why veteran coaches usually get run out of town as soon as there’s a downturn.  Just ask Tommy Tuberville or Phillip Fulmer.)

With Stoops making $4.5 million, it’s doubtful UT can land him.  But Hart also has ties to Florida State’s Fisher who was hired as the Seminoles’ coach-in-waiting while Hart was AD in Tallahassee.  Fisher makes $2.7 million and UT has the cash to give him quite a bump.  But would he leave a rolling program in an easy conference — yes, we know he’s not thrilled with the ACC — for a fixer-upper in the world’s toughest conference?  Unlikely.

Fallback candidates appear to be Miami’s Al Golden, Louisville’s Charlie Strong (who hasn’t helped his cause with two straight losses to Syracuse and UConn), and possibly Jones from Cincinnati.

 

Extra, Extra

There are also rumors in Missouri that head coach Gary Pinkel will step aside following a 5-7 season, but it’s unlikely he’ll really do so.  Indeed, no media folks in the Show-Me State seem to be taking the rumors as anything more than just messageboard chatter started by Tiger fans disappointed with their school’s first SEC season.

The four SEC schools that do have openings will be competing with Boston College, California, Colorado, Purdue and NC State when it comes to grabbing a coach.  As we pointed out several weeks ago, NCSU AD Debbie Yow promoted Vandy’s Franklin to coach-in-waiting at Maryland before she departed College Park for Raleigh.

Also remember this, it’s very rare for a “name” coach to take a step down the ladder in his career.  When coaches need to recharge their batteries — Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier — they usually try the NFL game.  You don’t often see a coach at Top 20 program leave his gigs for a rebuilding job elsewhere unless the rebuilding job happens to be the coach’s alma mater (Johnny Majors at Tennessee) or the coach is trying to escape fans who want his head (Bill Curry from Alabama to Kentucky, Houston Nutt from Arkansas to Ole Miss).

 


15 comments
Arky870
Arky870

@DevUrWorld @WhistlePig11 agreed. still have altman flashbacks

Arky870
Arky870

@DevUrWorld @WhistlePig11 easy for ky to hire a lower level guy. we want a top level guy

Arky870
Arky870

@DevUrWorld @WhistlePig11 thanks

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

Outside of Petrino, I can't think of a big name candidate that might be interested in Auburn right now.  That is simply because he might be desperate and less selective.  And I can't think of any hot commodities that would be wise in taking that job either.  That is a horrible situation to walk into and their issues are systemic having more to do with the people running the place than the potential of the program itself. 

 

Honestly, they would probably be better off giving the job to Pat Sullivan and allowing him to rebuild for a few years.  He probably wouldn't win any titles, but he wouldn't be horrible either.  Sullivan is probably Auburn's version of Mike Shula...loyal to the program and competent, but not someone who will seriously compete for titles.  Add to that the fact that his stint at AU, successful or not, would not be a blight on his resume.  He could get another FCS job if AU fires him in 4-5 years.  Ultimately, they made a mistake in firing Tuberville.  And despite the 2010 season, Chizik has left that place in ruins.  How one could win a national title and actually leave the program in worse shape than you found it is amazing, but that's what Chizik has done.  Other than the hardware, what has Auburn gained from the 2010 season?

HogFanTN
HogFanTN

Just an observation.  If Jeff Long said it would be 10-14 days to name a coach, could that not mean that he has done his homework and knows who he's got (or at least narrowed it down to 2 or 3) and that he's waiting for the season to end?  Although the SEC is complete, other conferences are not and he could be choosing among those teams.  What do I know, I'm just a displaced Hog fan tired of the Gruden obsession in this state.

hoglin
hoglin

As a Hog fan, I won't get itchy for another week and I wish my fellow fans would do the same.  It's true that our season is over but several teams will be playing this weekend.  Long has dealt with OUR season by canning John L, but until the whole FBS regular season is in the books I think we should be patient.  I will trust Long until I have substantial reason not to, which may come in a week!

MrSEC
MrSEC

@nikesportsfan We're going to get into that, but it'll all depend on how AU's sells the situation to candidates. Gotta be a red flag though!

PearlTimeline
PearlTimeline

@mrsec Dooley beat Butch Jones. How can you hire a guy even Dooley can beat?

garner63077
garner63077

@sports180 @mrsec that's good he can't beat an sec team Florida

GeoffDawg
GeoffDawg

The only realistic job I can see Smart leaving for out of those four is the one at UT. Also, I agree with your point regarding coaches only being as good as their last season but with Chizik, I think there were also a number of extenuating circumstances plus the rationalization by fans and administrators concerning his non-Cam SEC record. Hadn’t thought about the possibility of Franklin going back to the ACC but that’s an interesting complication. I think he could do well at either Arkansas or Auburn.

sojourner
sojourner

ah, gen chizik.  the only big time coach with a pre-hire resume thinner than derek dooley's. but, i think dooley wins.  iowa state might be the siberia of d-1 ball, but it and 20+ years of coaching trumps daddy's name.  dooley is still the head scratcher of the ages.  (but, he rides off into the sunset will a five million dollar payoff for establishing his incompetence).

viciousdawg
viciousdawg

 @GeoffDawg  The only job I see Kirby leaving Bama for in the SEC is for UGa and they have the winnest coach already and a Head Coach in waiting in their 2 coordinators. Don't laugh Bobo could be on a lot of teams list before the year is done.

VolTN
VolTN

 @sojourner Mike Hamilton is to thank for that.  Why in the world you give a coach with NOTHING on his resume a buyout of $5 million when he walks in the door is beyond me.  Hamilton is the reason we're in this mess.

GeoffDawg
GeoffDawg

@viciousdawg I have no doubt that Georgia would be Smart’s dream job but given the current landscape, he’s likely to have a long wait for it to open. Even though he’s making 1.5 million (I think) at Bama, he probably understands that the window to take one of these elite jobs is a small one and if he wants to make the leap, sooner may be better than later. I think he’s gone this year or next. Regarding Bobo, I know we like to complain about his penchant for calling draw plays on 3rd and 10 and sometimes his amnesia for play action but you can’t dispute his numbers.

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