And now comes the silly season when the big jobs open up and everyone scrambles for the best coach available. Here’s the best guess on what’s going to happen.
And here we go.
Everyone who’s not Alabama or in the College Football Playoff hunt apparently wants to trade in their coach for a shiny new model. So what’s going to happen?
Realizing that one wrong move here blows up the puzzle and it all has to be put together carefully, I tread lightly with my best guesses and predictions for how this whole coaching carousel thing is going to go.
UCLA: Chip Kelly
It’s an easy call from the start. Kelly isn’t a fit for Florida, but he’s perfect for the Pac-12. He’s the splash hire UCLA needs to challenge USC for Pac-12 South supremacy. He’s the hire that ruins Thanksgiving for Trojan fans.
Texas A&M: Jimbo Fisher
For some reason, Florida State doesn’t appear to be a big enough gig despite the recruiting, the national championships, the history, the easier conference than the SEC, etc. LSU was the hot rumor for Fisher if Ed Orgeron didn’t get the gig, and now A&M is going to want to go after someone with a national title on the resume. Which means …
Florida State: Justin Fuente
The Seminoles will stay in the conference house, landing the guy who took what Frank Beamer created and ran with it. He’s a proven winner in the ACC who’s flying under the hot take radar. He comes with a hefty buyout price tag, but what’s $5 million or so between friends? Which means …
Virginia Tech: Mike Norvell
It worked well the first time around, so why wouldn’t Virginia Tech want another successful Memphis head coach who’s considered the next Fuente? There might not be much of a hiccup or adjustment period, if any.
Florida: Dan Mullen
It’s the right move at the right time. Florida should’ve landed him instead of Jim McElwain a few years ago, but now it really is time to see what he can do with the keys to the Gator car. The pressure will be on to have Urban Meyer/Tim Tebow-like success in a hurry, but in terms of personality and getting the Gator Nation fired up, he’s the one. Which means …
Mississippi State: Matt Campbell
Here’s the problem. It’s going to take a really, really big buyout to get him. Like, around a $9 million buyout. However, for a Bulldog program that isn’t a lock to succeed without the right type of coach, it needs to pay out to get a coach who was able turn Iowa State into a winner.
Mississippi State isn’t the Iowa State of the SEC West, but in terms of having to butt heads with the big boys, it’s not far off. Campbell is a really young, really good head man who can grow with the program.
Tennessee: Scott Frost
Tennessee is the X-factor job opening. It needs to make a splash, and it needs to do something to show the base that it’s in the mix for the big-name guys, but it’s not going to get Jon Gruden or Chip Kelly.
Frost is the young superstar with the great offense and the talent to be the really, really next big thing for a program that needs more of a rebuild than it might seem. But he’s off to Nebraska, right? Ehhhhhhh, that might not be quite the gig Tennessee is now, and the Vols are going to work fast. If Frost doesn’t go to Lincoln, that means …
Nebraska: Mike Leach
New athletic director Bill Moos comes in from Washington State, where he had a great relationship with Leach. Here’s the problem at Nebraska that gets lost – the program has to recruit to a type. It’ll get talent to come there, but not at the level of an Ohio State or a Michigan.
Leach might be the shock-to-the-system hire, but the Huskers need someone who can butt heads with the Big Ten big boys, and they need him now. And they have to be interesting. If Leach leaves, that means …
Washington State: Beau Baldwin
Right guy, right area, right time. The Cal offensive coordinator came in after lighting up the FCS world – and a few Pac-12 teams – at Eastern Washington. He’s the high-octane offensive head coach without the Mike Leachiness, and a whole lot younger.
And finally …
Arkansas: Lane Kiffin
I know everyone is yelling at me otherwise, but I have an impossible time believing Gus Malzahn is going to leave an Auburn program that’s proven to be good enough to battle in SEC and national title chases.
Why would he want to leave that to climb the mountain all over again at Arkansas, and don’t say job security – that doesn’t exist in the SEC.
After dealing with a mega-personality in Bret Bielema, when it finally happens and the program makes a move, will it really want to deal with Kiffin?
He’s a really, really good head coach, and the place needs someone who can potentially give Nick Saban and Alabama a hard time. Tennessee should do it, won’t, and Arkansas needs to pounce.