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'Round and 'Round We Go : Coaching Carousel 2020 Edition ( and a big at 2021 ).....SEC Style.
Even in a season where most things are in flux and "topsy turvy " is the rule of the day coast-to-coast, one thing stays the same. Coaches once thought to be the man to elevate a program have instead crashed to earth and been invited to seek their fortunes elsewhere.
With that in mind, let's see who might end up where when that well known carousel stops spinning. May as well start with the best conference in college football, so.........
The Tigers finally decided to trade in "The Gus Bus" on some new transportation, but have yet to pick out the model that they want. The name at the top of many media folks list for nearly any SEC opening is Hugh Freeze. With the current issues going on in the athletic department at large, I can't see 1 year at Liberty being enough to distance Freeze from his foibles of SEC coaching stops past just yet.
The others on the list ?
Mario Cristobal : He is currently in extension talks at his current post of Oregon. If he stays to head up the Quack Attack, he stands a good chance of being the top program in the Pac 12 North if not the conference as a whole. That puts him in the title game most years , which gives him a CFP shot on a fairly regular basis. I think he is floating the idea of interest in heading to the plains to boost his contract numbers in Eugene.
Lane Kiffin : This is the guy I had pegged for the job a couple of years ago right after he headed to FAU. Just the idea of Saban-Kiffin in the Iron Bowl was a fun little notion. Oh well, ridiculous contracts given to 8 win coaches kinda shut such things down in a quick ol' hurry. I don't know if he would bolt Ole Miss after one year, but I did catch a bit of Finebaum and a caller claiming to know people close to things said he wouldn't be shocked to see Kiffin announced as the new head of Auburn's Tiger den by saturday. We shall see.
Tigers of a different stripe : Brent Venables and Tony Elliott. Both of them have got to leave some time, and a good sized SEC gig could be enough of a lure. Venables has built a D good enough to hold Bama down a bit and win Nattys, while Elliott hasn't exactly stunk it up in working with the offense in general and getting QB production in particular.
Billy Napier : The head man at UL-LAF is nothing to giggle at. He has his Rajun Cajuns going in a good direction, and has ties to the state thanks to his time as a Saban assistant. He is young in the profession, but is showing himself to be a very capable coach. If he can succeed, he could be a long term fix for the program. Unlike Shane Beamer, the Gamecock's choice, Napier has experience leading a program. For him , this is just a matter of scale rather than entirely new territory.
In a typically Auburn move in which unseen money people with questionable at best football acumen step in to call the shots, of late Kevin Steele has emerged as a legit candidate for the position. Steele is a good DC, but such a hire would be a "status quo" move. If you were going to do that, rather than try and raise yourself to a new level....why fire Gus ?
With Vandy and the original USC moving so quickly to fill their vacancies, the only other SEC spots open are only available in the realm of speculation. But, what the heck......
Coach O was a surprise hire when he got the job and is typically seen as someone very dependent on keeping high end co-ordinators since he has only run a side of the ball once, back at USC in 2010-13. He has generally just coached D-Line and recruited up a storm. The Bayou Bengals have a good stock of young talent and should bounce back, at least somewhat next year, The question....how long does the National Title buy big Ed ? I doubt future ex-Longhorn boss Tom Herman would be a consideration if the Baton Rouge spot opens, but....Hugh Freeze anyone ? A year or 2 more to distance from his Ole Miss past might just do the trick. Imagine that, LSU bringing in one ex-Rebel to replace another.
Jeremy Pruitt was a last resort sort of choice to head Big Orange in the first place. He currently sits in a rather toasty 3rd place on the "Coaches Hot Seat" site, so he may need to cook up a winner next year to lower the temp some. If not, who might be the man to replace him ?
Its the SEC , so Hugh Freeze would be on a very short list. Is Billy Napier someone to consider if he doesn't go the Auburn route ? How about Steve Sarkisian ? Or would we rather head back to western climates ? Would Mike Bobo be looked at for an SEC boss job after a less than sparkling stint out Fort Collins way ? Patience is wearing thin on Rocky Top. I don't think they can afford to miss again if they part from Pruitt.
On a side note, who of the currently unemployed with head coaching experience might get a look for these or any other SEC jobs that come open ?
Urban Meyer : I don't think he wants to come back to this conference. He would be more likely to land at Texas or Southern Cal if he leaves his nice, comfy analyst chair.
Chad Morris : Much more likely to see him head back to the Lone Star State with someone like Texas Tech should Matt Wells be gone soon-ish.
Jim leavitt : If a program is ok with his past, it should be remembered the heights he led a young South Florida program to.
Rich Rodriguez : Is ol' Redtread Rich a candidate for a lead job anywhere at this point ?
So much for the SEC part of the carousel.