Anything is possible.
You may think your team’s coach is a lock to stick around despite outside interest, but as Tennessee learned in 2010… anything is possible. Lane Kiffin had been in Knoxville for just one season when Southern Cal came calling less than a month before signing day. Fifteen other guys had to decline offers from the Trojans before Kiffin got his call, but when USC rang, he jumped.
Let’s also remember that an approach by another school doesn’t have to result in your school’s coach leaving to cause problems. Agent Jimmy Sexton’s clients seem to get annual raises, extensions and inflated buyouts due to reported interest in them. All it takes is another school sniffing around — or an agent bluffing that other schools are sniffing around — to bind your school to its coach with a bigger, stronger contract.
So who in the SEC might be hot properties at this season’s end? Here’s our list…
Nick Saban, Alabama — The only thing that might drive Saban from Tuscaloosa someday would be an NCAA investigation or some sort. Still, rumors persist that Texas — if the Longhorns push Mack Brown out — will try to make Bama’s coach an offer he can’t refuse. So keep an eye on Brown’s situation. Just last week, Texas’ coach said, “Nick’s not trying to get my job, I mean, I know Nick… So I don’t have to worry about that.” That’s called whistling past the graveyard.
Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M — Sumlin is going to get paid. Either by Texas A&M to fend off suitors or by Southern Cal, a school reportedly ready to pay up to $6 million per season for the right man. Sumlin’s currently playing the game on the Trojan front and that will likely force A&M to pony up again to keep him. Unless, of course, he’s just using Southern cal as a bluff and AD Eric Hyman knows it. For all the talk of college interest, we still feel Sumlin’s most likely next step will be toward the NFL. If Chip Kelly’s up-tempo Eagles make the playoffs, expect Sumlin to be a pretty hot NFL commodity. The coach has already said that down the road the pro game might interest him.
Gus Malzahn, Auburn — Would he leave the Plains after just one season? Well, he has proven to be opportunistic in the job market. Five years as a high school coach in Springdale, Arkansas high school. One year as Arkansas’ offensive coordinator. Two years as offensive coordinator at Tulsa. Three years as Auburn’s offensive coordinator. One year as head coach at Arkansas State. Now back at Auburn. We feel it’s unlikely he would leave as he seems to be a perfect fit at AU, but his track record demands that schools with openings at least pick up the phone and gauge his interest.
James Franklin, Vanderbilt — Three bowls in three years at Vandy. A chance to win nine games in back-to-back years at Vandy. So why the hell is Franklin not listed as a “hot property” when his name has been connected to the Southern Cal job? Solely due to the fact that a rape case at Vanderbilt is still hanging over the coach’s head like black cloud. It’s unlikely that he played any role whatsoever in the cover-up of said crime, but just last week defense attorneys for an ex-Commodore accused in the rape filed a motion in court requesting copies of all the text messages sent between VU’s coaches and the four players charged. After the Penn State circus, schools might be a tad leery of hiring anyone with so much as a potential connection to a scandal, crime or cover-up. This is very bad timing for Franklin (who has to be growing tired of seeing empty seats at Dudley Field).
Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss — If Freeze manages to win eight or nine games this season and he puts together another top 15 signing class, someone might put Freeze on their list of job candidates. We’re not saying he would leave as he appears to be UM man. We just think some school might take a flier on a guy who’s had more early success than anyone ever dreamed.
Read the rest of this entry »