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Miscellany

A Handy Guide to the 2011-2012 College Football Coaching Carousel

Are you as excited for December as I am? Not just because of Christmas, but because the college football coaching carousel will probably be considerably more thrilling than the exhibition bowl games.

North Carolina
Previous coach: Butch Davis (fired in July; Everett Withers interim coach)
Athletic director: Lawrence (Bubba) Cunningham

Cunningham came from Tulsa, and those who know him claim he will aggressively make a run at Chris Petersen, Boise’s coach. The problem is, I hear Petersen is actively offering input into Boise State’s athletic director search. Would Petersen do that, then bolt? North Carolina is fertile recruiting ground and the right coach – Gus Mahlzan? Skip Holtz? – could do damage, quickly. I think this is a better job than bottom-tier SEC gigs because of the weak competition in the ACC. The new coach will ultimately have to answer to a man named Holden Thorp, so scrub Mike Leach’s name from your mind. Random name to watch: Kirby Smart, Alabama. At some point he’s got to leave Nick Saban’s side, right? Smart’s going to lose a slew of players to the NFL, making this perhaps the best time to give head coaching a shot.

Mississippi
Previous coach: Houston Nutt (recently “resigned.”)
Athletic director: Pete Boone (recently “resigned.”)

Charles Robinson of Yahoo thinks
Gus Malzahn, Auburn’s creative offensive coordinator, is in play. Question: Why would anyone want to take a job in the SEC West? LSU, Alabama and Arkansas, all in the SEC West, are atop the BCS standings. Right now, this is a bad, bad job. A hotshot assistant who goes here and fails after three years … goes back to being an assistant for another decade. Ask Ed Orgeron about that. Name you might hear, but he’ll probably stay in the Midwest: Brent Venables, Oklahoma. How long does he stay in Norman? That depends … is Bill Snyder sticking around Kansas State? Venables played there and was an assistant there. Venables’ defense has been torched by unranked Texas Tech and Baylor in brutal losses … but should return a lot of talent next year (too bad the offenses will be losing a lot). Name that makes sense: Larry Fedora, Southern Mississippi.

UCLA
Previous Current coach: Rick Neuheisel
Athletic director: Dan Guerrero

Neuheisel could survive the season. The Bruins are 6-5 and have won three of four. But here’s what also needs to be factored in: How strong Lane Kiffin has finished the season across town at USC. Kiffin’s Trojans have improved dramatically, and if Matt Barkley stays, the Trojans will open as a top three team next season. Can the Bruins waste another year under Neuheisel while Kiffin builds a monster? Sleeper name you won’t stop laughing at: Urban Meyer. After USC whips UCLA 40-3, Guerrero is met at his office by an angry mob of checkbook-wielding boosters. They demand the school back up the brinks for Urban Meyer, and the selling point is that he hates Lane Kiffin and would to renew the brief-but-heated Florida-Tennessee rivalry between the two coaches while lifting a storied franchise out of the doldrums. The Bruins have finished the season ranked just once since 1998. Guy who’s realistic: Kevin Sumlin, Houston.

Arizona
Previous coach: Mike Stoops (interim: Tim Kish)
Athletic director: Greg Byrne

You know my thoughts on the Urban Meyer “interview” a week ago. I still think Houston’s Kevin Sumlin makes the most sense. What hurts the Wildcats is the Dennis Erickson scuttlebutt from the weekend (see below). If UCLA were to make a move too, that’d really hurt. Both of those jobs are better than the Tucson opening. Of all the places Mike Leach could end up – I still don’t know if his pending litigation will scare teams off – I think he’ll have support in Arizona from ready-to-win boosters … but perhaps not the AD. You’ll hear Chris Petersen’s name mentioned – he knows Byrne well. Guy not in the country who might be in the mix: Marc Trestman. Who? He was supposedly considered for the Miami job. If you watch the CFL, you know him. If Arizona wants to continue the up-tempo offensive attack, Trestman fits well.

Ohio State
Previous coach: Jim Tressel (interim coach: Luke Fickell)
Athletic director: Gene Smith

It’s always been Urban Meyer. The day he left Florida, I guessed he’d move to Ohio State in 2013 (that was before Tressel’s implosion even began). Here’s another mention of Meyer and OSU in Decemeber 2010. A prediction from March 25. Beano Cook talked about Meyer-to-OSU in April. It would be a colossal failure if the Buckeyes didn’t land Meyer. Possible name should Meyer fall through: Glen Mason. Don’t laugh. Formerly of Minnesota, Mason is 61, not a sexy name, and basically an entry-level 1999 Toyota Tercel to Meyer’s loaded Audi A8. Mason was an OSU assistant about 30 years ago and did take the Gophers to five straight bowl games somewhat recently. Name who fits in the conference: Mike London, Virginia. Building a reputation as a defensive mastermind. He’s basically spent his entire career in Virginia though. London’s ready for a raise and some interviews, but a mid-tier ACC job to an elite Big Ten job is a massive leap.

Penn State
Previous coach: Joe Paterno (interim coach: Tom Bradley)
Athletic director: TBA (interim AD: Dave Joyner)

Frankly, I think anyone claiming to have knowledge about the next PSU coach is throwing darts … and the board is 50 feet away. The school doesn’t have a President or an Athletic Director, and both of those spots will be filled before they have a coach. That’s why I don’t buy the Mike London rumor. Will Penn State want a coach with ties to the University? Is this even an attractive job? Far too many questions to even begin guessing. Guy doing good things who should get a call: FIU’s Mario Cristobal. But he won’t leave Florida. Al Golden will feel Cristobal breathing down his neck for the next few years.

Arizona State
Previous Current coach: Dennis Erickson
Athletic director: Lisa Love

Erickson’s Sun Devils were shell-shocked by lowly Arizona, 31-27 over the weekend, prompting the rumor mill to say he was done after the season. Erickson’s team has 24 seniors, and two very, very important juniors (QB Brock Osweiler, who could stay, and LB Vontaze Burfict, who probably leaves). There’s a chance someone inherits crap. Perhaps of note: Lisa Love played volleyball in college. At Texas Tech. Incoming Mike Leach rumors coming in 3…2…  Random name for the fun of it: Mike Leach. Random name because he’s not mentioned in this post: Rich Rodriguez. I imagine he’ll lobby hard for it, but the stench from his Michigan regime is still far to pungent for him to sniff a good job like this. Guy who probably gets a call, but is probably still one year away: Ron English, Eastern Michigan. From 0-12 to bowl-bound? He’ll make a nice fit in Houston if Sumlin leaves, or at Southern Miss if Fedora leaves.

 

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