I asked Oshea, a frequent commenter and a knowledgeable college football fan (and USC Trojan fanatic) to look at coaching vacancies. This is his view with my thoughts at the end:
Tennessee – I’d assume the Volquest list is accurate. Apparently Butch Davis and Spurrier have both announced they aren’t interested. Of the contenders I’ve seen, I would think it would come down to Muschamp and Grobe. Muschamp is the hot name, and Grobe has already proven he can win and upgrade the talent base. Brewster already has Minnesota on the right track, and I’m not sure he’d leave when Tennessee isn’t the destination job for him anyway. I sort of dismiss everyone else, although as I’ve stated I really like Turner Gill. Maybe I’m a bit gunshy on Patterson after seeing what happened to the last “hot-shot” TCU coach. I don’t think Leach is going to Tennessee, he’ll either stay at Tech, or maybe see what UW has to offer. I don’t think him and Tennessee are a good match either way. As far as the Gruden rumors have that popped up, I don’t put much stock in them. Gruden seems like an NFL guy to me. Plus, the west coast offense just doesn’t really work in college. It worked at Auburn in ’04, but that was more talent then scheme in my opinion.
Clemson – This one definitely has to be someone with “Southern ties” – IMO. The obvious candidate would be Bobby Johnson, although I’m sure they’ll also go hard after Muschamp. Clemson of course has their delusional candidates, Bill Cowher, Butch Davis, etc. In my opinion, the best hire would be either Johnson or Tubbs, if they blow him out of Auburn. Both can recruit the area, and are good coaches. I’d assume if the $ is right, either would jump at the Clemson job; at that point they’re only battling the SEC in recruits living rooms, but not on the field. I’ve also heard some Houston Nutt speculation, but you never know what Sexton is trying to pull to get his guys a raise. In the end, I would think Bobby Johnson should be their guy.
Auburn – if they fire Tubbs, which I think would be completely insane, I would assume Muschamp would be #1 on their list. They would need to bring in someone with good ties in the state and in the South to help slow down the Saban train. I would think someone like Charlie Strong would be a good hire. I still refuse to believe Auburn is dumb enough to fire Tubberville, I think he’s entitled to one down year after a great tenure at Auburn.
Even though I haven’t heard his name tossed around at all, I’d have to think Jimbo Fisher would hear from at least one of these schools. Being told he’s the coach in waiting means nothing unless Bowden has an actual exit plan.
Washington – they’re in a tough spot right now. They have a lot of money to throw around, but they have some outdated facilities and a divided alumni base on just what the goals of the program are and should be. If Don James has a say, he’ll certainly push for Missouri Head Coach Gary Pinkel, and ex-UW assistant under James, or OC Dave Christensen. Pinkel talks about James and UW like Miles was talking up Bo and Michigan last year. I’m not sure Pinkel leaves, and in that case, they’ll interview Pac 10 coaches and assistants, as well as Lane Kiffin and possibly Mike Leach. I could see them interviewing Oregon OC Chip Kelly, USC OC Steve Sarkisian (feel free to take him), and possibly UCLA DC Dewayne Walker. Additionally, they really made a run at Cal HC Jeff Tedford before hiring Tyrone Willingham, I see nothing that would indicate Tedford’s answer would be any different. They’ll also likely make a run at Chris Peterson of Boise St, but I doubt he wants in on Washington’s mess. I’ll guess they end up with Kiffin, or a Pac 10 assistant.
Syracuse – what a mess. Ex-USC associate AD Darryl Gross is now the AD at Syracuse, so one would think he’d interview Kiffin or Sarkisian. That said, he hired Pete Carroll’s best friend Greg Robinson off of PC’s recommendation, and look how well that turned out. I’ve heard that Randy Edsell of UConn may be interested, if so, Gross should drive to Storrs now and kidnap him.
San Diego State – I’d have to assume Chuck Long is a goner. SDSU needs to quit screwing around and hire an actual coach who can build a program. They have put a ton of guys in the league, and are a huge school (and the only D-1 school) in America’s 7th or 8th largest city, what a joke. San Jose State got it right bringing in Dick Tomey, a proven head coach who has turned them into a winning program. Karl Dorrell was a candidate there when they hired Tom Craft; I don’t think he’s a great coach but maybe he’s a good fit there. Additionally, they could go for a coordinator with strong So-Cal recruiting ties, UCLA DC Dewayne Walker comes to mind. Bottom line, no more coordinators from Oklahoma, and no more Junior College Head Coaches.
Kansas State – Gary Patterson seems like a good fit for this program, as does Brent Venables. There is also the possibility of bring Bill Snyder back for a year or two and make Venables the DC/Coach in Waiting.
All in all, a pretty good review. A couple of thoughts I’d add:
- Tennessee, more than any other school on the list right now, has to get this hire right. With the instate talent base, or lack thereof, a whiff here can set them back much further than sticking with Coach Fulmer.
- Texas Tech would probably fight as hard as possible to keep Leach. The only place I really see him going would be the Pac 10, but the kind of program he is interested in isn’t open. I think he stays there, since he is in a top conference, in the right geography to recruit his players from (stealing top guys from the likes of Utah and BYU, plus West Texas and Oklahoma as natural recruiting bases).
- One name I’d add to the K-State list is Jim Leavitt. That goes for Texas Tech if Leach were to leave. For that matter, he might actaully make a splashy hire for Clemson or Auburn.
- I am surprised Norm Chow wasn’t mentioned more prominently. Oshea has his ear to the ground on West Coast guys. I wonder if this is the end of the Norm Chow as a head coach annual rumor game.
- If Lane Kiffin doesn’t go to Washington, Chris Peterson does. I’d add Boise State to this list, too.
- I couldn’t agree more about Clemson. One name I would add would be Bud Foster.
- Brian Kelly could probably be added to any of the above major college list. K-State and Tennessee makes the most sense to me.
- If Al Davis has his way, Stanford might be looking for a coach, as well. If that happens, Ty Willingham goes home to Palo Alto.
- Bold prediction: other programs looking by the end of the season will include Marshall, Washington State, Wyoming and Iowa State. I believe Dan Hawkins, Steve Kragthorpe, Bret Bielema, and Tom O’Brien each get at least one more season at their respective schools.