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Nutt, Leach Campaigning For Leach To Land Ole Miss Job

Houston Nutt seems to want what’s best for Ole Miss despite his dismissal.  And he seems to want to help an old acquaintance to get back in the business.

Mike Leach seems to want a crack at the Rebel job.  And it seems likely that he and Nutt have spoken about him campaigning for it.

Here’s why…

A few weeks ago while listening to Leach’s daily Sirius radio talkshow, I heard someone call in and ask the ex-Texas Tech coach about the Ole Miss job and whether he would be interested.  He sidestepped the question saying that Nutt was a friend of his.

Yesterday it was his friend who went on the radio and pitched Leach for the job.  Nutt appearing on Tim Brando’s radio show said:

“You’ve got to bring maybe a little something different offensively.  You’re not always going to have the best 11 on the field when you go against Alabama and LSU.  You need something a little bit creative.  I always think about what Mike Leach did at Texas Tech.  He didn’t hae the best players compared to OU, Nebraska and those guys.  But in playing him in the Cotton Bowl and studying him, he did something a little bit different.  Probably along those lines is what maybe Ole Miss will be.”

So would Leach be interested?  From this quote in The Memphis Commercial-Appeal it sure sounds like it:

“I haven’t heard from anybody, but I’m not too hard to find.  It’s a great job.  I’m sure the administration has a certain individual it is looking for, and I’m sure they’ll find the right guy…

There’s a lot of great athletes in the state of Mississippi and you need to get them to stay in-state.  I know the atmosphere is incredible (at Ole Miss).  It’s a great place with great people.”

It’s not the first time the 50-year-old Leach has talked up a coaching vacancy.  Arizona’s job has been open for a few weeks already.  While in Tuscon promoting his book, “Swing Your Sword,” last Wednesday.  At the time he said of the Wildcats’ position:

“I think it’s a great job.  Anybody would be interested in this job.  The thing is, they have an idea of what they’re looking for.  They have an idea of what direction they’re going.  If I somehow fit in there, then maybe there will be some dialogue.  And if I don’t, I’m sure they will select a good individual for the position.  It’s an exciting position.”

Sound familiar?

In reality, Leach would probably be a better fit at Arizona than at Ole Miss.  Football isn’t as serious in Tuscon as it is in the Deep South.  There would be less media scrutiny in the Pac-12 than the SEC.

But it doesn’t appear that Arizona AD Greg Byrne — formerly of Mississippi State — is interested in Leach.  If he were, he would’ve called him already.

Which leaves us to wonder what Archie Manning’s search committee — expected to be put together by Friday — will think of the often odd Leach.

The ex-Tech coach believes his lawsuit against ESPN has hurt his chances of getting back on a sideline.  “I think it’s had a chilling effect, there’s no question.  In 2008, I was National Coach of the Year,” he told The Lexington Herald-Leader.

“I want to get back to coaching.  These should be my best coaching years and I want to get back.”

Ole Miss should want the best on-field coach for the job and that appears to be Leach.  But in terms of the off-field duties of that job, the UM administration might not want to take a risk on a loose cannon that’s currently at war with one of the SEC’s (and Ole Miss’) most-important business partners.

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Nutt Suggests Leach Would Fit At Ole Miss

If there’s a fan favorite when it comes to Ole Miss’ coaching candidates, that man is most surely Mike Leach.

The former Texas Tech head coach — who has also had offensive success as an assistant at Kentucky — would bring instant credibility to Oxford.  His offense would excite recruits.  His fascination with pirates would give students something better than a black bear to dress up as on gameday.

But would he be a good fit at a school like Mississippi?  Houston Nutt seems to think so.  Speaking on Tim Brando’s radio show today, Nutt said that Ole Miss needs hire a coach who’ll do something different on offense. He then threw props to Leach.

But there’s a downside to making a run at Leach, too.  First, the coach’s ugly departure at Texas Tech will be mentioned again and again.  Would Chancellor Dan Jones want to fool with that?

Second, Leach’s lawsuit against ESPN for it’s coverage/involvement in his ouster — he also claims the network nixed his chances of landing the Maryland job last year — would make for some interesting times.  The SEC and ESPN are business partners.  How would ESPN cover Leach?  How would Leach handle media requests from ESPN?

Finally, would UM’s chancellor want a known loose cannon heading up his football program?  Most bosses like to make safe hires.  Leach ran a clean program and graduated playes (and won games) at Texas Tech, but his off-the-wall persona certainly doesn’t jive with the words “safe hire.”

Should Ole Miss kick the tires on Leach?  In our view… absolutely.  He’d be the first call we’d make.

But we’d want to get to know the guy before we handed him the keys to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

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SEC Headlines – 7/19/11 Part Four

1.  An amusing Nick Saban story made its way into Mike Leach’s book.

2.  Robbie Andreu of The Gainesville Sun predicts a 9-3 finish for Florida this fall.

3.  With SEC Media Days kicking off tomorrow, we can close the book on a controversy-filled summer.

4.  Here’s a look back at some of the more memorable quotes to come out of SEC Media Days over the years.

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Malzahn Might’ve Passed On Maryland Opportunity

A month ago, there was no doubt that Vanderbilt and Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn were in serious talks regarding Vandy’s head coaching job. 

Malzahn turned the job down and received a raise to $1.3 million per year on The Plains for doing so.

Last week word came that Maryland was interested in chatting with Malzahn about its own vacancy.  Only this time, the rumors never actually moved from simmer to boil.

But according to Kevin Scarbinsky of The Birmingham News it might have been Malzahn who cooled the Maryland talk. 

“I believe Malzahn was interested in Maryland, and vice versa, and I understand the two sides did talk,” Scarbinsky writes.  But the two parties did not speak face to face.  Only two candidates interviewed in College Park and toured the campus — Mike Leach and Randy Edsall.  UM’s athletic director said a third candidate declined an invitation to come to Maryland’s campus.  Scarbinsky believes that candidate might have been Malzahn.

Scarbinsky believes that Malzahn might have passed on Maryland because of the timing of the Terps’ opening: “Had he taken the Maryland job this close to kickoff against Oregon — after Auburn opened the vault to raise him to $1.3 million a year — people would’ve blamed him.”

A little aside here — When we see a writer pen consistently glowing columns and articles about a subject, we tend to think that the subject has become a source for the writer.  And Scarbinsky has written many, many, many nice things about Malzahn this season.  So if a connection does exist between the writer and the coach, the “Malzahn chose not to pursue the Maryland job” spin could be coming from the coach himself.

But it’s also possible that Scarbinsky is simply speculating based on contacts not named Gus.

In that case, we can speculate, too.  It’s possible that Malzahn knew that he didn’t have a great shot to land the Maryland job and therefore chose not to upset the folks in his own backyard.  AU backers likely wouldn’t have appreciated Malzahn chasing yet another job right after he was given a mondo raise for nixing VU’s advances.

Maryland could have hired Leach, but instead the school chose to go the safe route and bring in UConn’s Edsall — a fact that’s been met with yawns in College Park.  Malzahn has never been a head coach in college and was coaching in high school just six years ago.  So it’s certainly possible that UM officials would have viewed Edsall as a safer pick than Malzahn, too.

Whatever the reason, Malzahn and Maryland never truly acted on their mutual interest.  And Auburn fans are plenty glad about that heading into Monday’s BCS title game.

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Malzahn Didn’t Jump For Vandy… Would He Jump For Maryland?

Auburn’s Gene Chizik said last night — less than two weeks before the BCS Championship Game — that it’s possible Maryland officials will make a run at offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn.

“To the best of my knowledge, there are possibilities of contact.  I have not talked to anybody personally, but there are possibilities of contact in there.  I can’t give any details because I don’t have any.”

Malzahn was scheduled to meet with the press yesterday, but chose not to.

When James Franklin was allowed to leave (for the Vandy job Malzahn turned down) and Ralph Friedgen was forced out, it was believed that Maryland was locked in to hire former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach.  But according to ComcastSportsNet Washington, Leach might not be the frontrunner.

Maryland officials — according to the network — have already interviewed SMU’s June Jones and Malzahn in addition to Leach.  I guess an already conducted interview would indeed constitute “possibilities of contact.” 

Jones has publicly pulled himself out of the running for the Maryland job.

Malzahn was given a $1.3 million per salary just two weeks ago when he elected to stay at Auburn and turn down Vanderbilt.

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VSL Poll: Who Should Vanderbilt Hire as their Next Head Football Coach?

Content provided by Vanderbilt Sports Line.

Who Should Vanderbilt Hire as their Next Head Football Coach?customer surveys

Explanation: This list includes the 5 names currently reported as active candidates for the vacancy. Phillip Fulmer and Al Golden (Temple) are apparently no longer candidates, and despite Anchor of Gold’s letter writing campaign, no media outlets have mentioned Mike Leach as a potential hire.

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