The SEC West or Gainesville and the Florida Gators? That’s the question two of hottest offensive minds in college football are being asked.
Here’s what you need to know and what’s really important after two weeks of college football.
The names on the Texas coaching search board appear to be dropping quickly.
If recent reports are to be believed, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher is off the table. Now Baylor’s Art Briles and UCLA’s Jim Mora have both stated publicly that they are not interested in the job and are not candidates.
Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio signed an extension. The news was announced Wednesday night just before Sparty’s Rose Bowl win over Stanford.
The school reportedly plans to make Dantonio one of the three highest-paid coaches in the Big Ten, and his assistants will become one of three highest-paid staffs in the conference.
If those names are gone, where does Texas athletic director Steve Patterson turn?
Louisville’s Charlie Strong and Vanderbilt’s James Franklin are the other names most prominently linked to the job.
According to an Orangebloods.com report, Patterson has already interviewed both Strong and Franklin.
Despite the recent announcement of Fisher’s contract extension, sources continue to tell us that Fisher is not out of the mix at Texas. In fact HookEm247 believes that Fisher is likely the favorite to land the job.
Speaking of Fisher’s new deal, the Tallahassee Democrat reports that FSU built in an overall salary increase of 17 percent for the Seminoles’ nine assistant coaches. It’s up to Fisher to decide which assistants receive raises and how much.
The Gazette reports former Cleveland Browns quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple will interview for the UMass job next week, perhaps as early as Tuesday. UMass fired Charley Molnar on Dec. 26.
Penn State AD Dave Joyner says the school could have a new head coach “in a matter of days rather than weeks.”
Longtime Nittany Lions defensive line coach Larry Johnson has been named the interim head coach. PennLive reports wide receivers coach Stan Hixon set to join Bill O’Brien’s staff with the Houston Texans.
Lions247 reports five names have risen to the top of the early list of potential interviewees: Miami head coach Al Golden, Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin, Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Rutgers coach Greg Schiano and Johnson.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Caldwell interviewed for the Redskins head coaching vacancy Wednesday, and is also expected to interview for the Lions head job.
Jim Wyatt of The Tennesseean reports that Titans coach Mike Munchak is still in limbo. No decision has been made on his future as coach. Munchak is thought to be a candidate for the Penn State job.
The Cleveland Browns are focusing largely – but not entirely – on college coaches. Jason La Canfora reports they are very interested in interviewing Auburn coach Gus Malzahn and Vanderbilt’s Franklin for their head coaching vacancy.
Sources close to Malzahn indicate that, while he might have an interested in moving to the NFL at some point in the future, he’d be likley pass on Cleveland now.
Tony Softli reports that Oklahoma head coach and Ohio native Bob Stoops may have the inside track on the Cleveland Browns opening.
ESPN reports that an NFL source insists Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin is open to coaching a select professional team or two.
A source close to Sumlin tells us otherwise.
“That’s 100 percent not true, and it has no chance of happening. Zero.”
Sumlin has passed on several inquiries and job opportunities from NFL and high-profile collegiate jobs, including USC, sources said.
Sumlin is committed to coaching Texas A&M until the school finishes its $450 million renovation of Kyle Field. The renovation, which also has been labeled a redevelopment, is being done in three phases, with the grand opening set for August 2015.
Former Cal head coach Jeff Tedford will be offensive coordinator at Tampa Bay.
Sources indicate that FSU quarterbacks coach Randy Sanders could be a candidate to replace Kurt Roper as offensive coordinator at Duke. Sanders and Blue Devils head coach David Cutcliffe have a long history dating back to Tennessee.
Sources also indicate Blue Devils offensive line coach John Latina could be in play to be the offensive line coach at Florida.
DuckTerritory reports that Randy Shannon and Clancy Pendergast are among the possibilities for the defensive coordinator job at Oregon.
Secondary coach John Neal was believed to be a serious candidate, but it now appears head coach Mark Helfrich is intent on bringing someone in from the outside.
Cincinnati’s Tommy Tuberville has fired defensive coordinator Art Kaufman and defensive tackles coach Fred Tate, according to reports.
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn and Vanderbilt’s James Franklin are prime targets for the Cleveland Browns head coaching vacancy, according to a report from CBSSports.com’s Jason La Canfora.
According to La Canfora, team officials are “very interested” in meeting with Malzahn and Franklin as Chudzinski’s potential replacement.
The Browns are owned by Jimmy Haslam, a Knoxville, Tenn. native, University of Tennessee graduate and prominent Vols booster.
Haslam has watched the SEC success of Malzahn and Franklin very closely. Malzahn’s win over Alabama and Nick Saban – a coach Haslam and the Browns front office holds in very high regard – reportedly made a particularly strong impression.
La Canfora says the Browns are likely to hire former Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz as defensive coordinator. Schwartz was defensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans prior to becoming the Lions coach.
The Browns have reportedly requested permission to interview Patriots offensive coordinator and Ohio native Josh McDaniels.
A pair of then-college coaches – Chip Kelly and Bill O’Brien – were top candidates in Cleveland a year ago before Chudzinski was hired. Kelly’s success in Philadelphia this season likely adds to Malzahn’s allure.
McDaniels, Malzahn, Franklin and Schwartz are all represented by Memphis agent Jimmy Sexton.
(Photo: Dale Zanine, USA Today Sports)
There’s certainly plenty of smoke that Penn State’s Bill O’Brien is primed for a return to the NFL.
It’s been making the news rounds the past couple of weeks, and now ESPN reports that O’Brien has emerged as the overwhelming favorite to become the next coach of the Houston Texans, and the two sides are working to get a deal in place within the next week.
Lions247 reports Brooklyn (N.Y.) Abraham Lincoln five-star defensive tackle and Nittany Lions commit Thomas Holley spoke with O’Brien Saturday night regarding the ESPN report that O’Brien was in the process of working on a deal to become the Houston Texans next head coach.
“I just off the phone with him,” Holley told 247Sports Luke Stampini. “He said he isn’t going. It’s not true.”
The Houston Chronicle’s John McClain reports that Texans owner Bob McNair said the search for the team’s next head coach “isn’t over.”
“The process continues,” he said. “We have other interviews scheduled next week. It isn’t over.”
CBSSports reports Chargers offensive coordinator and former Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt will be given strong consideration for the Texans job.
Reports surfaced Friday that Washington defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox was expected to accept the same position on Steve Sarkisian’s USC staff.
Now, DuckTerritory is reporting that Oregon has targeted Wilcox to replace the longtime outgoing DC Nick Aliotti. If the Ducks miss on Wilcox, they more than likely promote John Neal to the position.
There are all sorts of rumors flying around linking Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly to the Detroit Lions job. However, it looks as if Kelly is likely to stay put.
Jets linebackers coach Brian VanGorder will become Notre Dame’s new defensive coordinator. VanGorder was defensive coordinator at Auburn, Georgia and the Atlanta Falcons.
Multiple sources tell us North Carolina assistant Walt Bell will be the new offensive coordinator at Arkansas State. He had been considered a leading candidate to take over for the departed Blake Anderson, but it looks like Bell will instead join Anderson instead.
InsideCarolina reports that Bell is receiving a two-year contract at $225,000 per year in his new position at Arkansas State, which is less than what UNC offered.
UNC head coach Larry Fedora could look to his former offensive coordinator and current Texas co-OC Darrell Wyatt as his next play caller.
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith told the Toledo Blade there are no plans to renegotiate with head coach Urban Meyer before next season, but he knows Ohio State “will have to face that music down the road.”
At Texas, there’s a lot of smoke around Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher. If the Texas search drags until the BCSNCG, the speculation surrounding Fisher could reach a fever pitch.
Fisher hasn’t even issued a non-denial denial, saying only, “I’m going to talk about our team. That’s all I’m talking about. I ain’t getting into all the rumors.”
At some point, those rumors are likely to become a distraction for the Seminoles, who will play for the National Championship on January 6th.
The Dallas News reports Longhorns athletic director Steve Patterson has begun to focus on at least a handful of candidates including Fisher, Baylor’s Art Briles. Vanderbilt’s James Franklin and Louisville’s Charlie Strong are also considered to be in the mix.
The News also reports that Alabama’s Nick Saban is a possibility, although that may be a long shot. Other candidates could also emerge.
Horns247 reports that Fisher’s counterpart in the National Championship Game, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, is not a candidate at Texas.
Mack Brown is contractually obligated to receive at least $500,000 annually through 2020, but Texas’ soon-to-be former head football coach is pushing for a lot more.
Don Evans, a former UT regent and one-time U.S. Secretary of Commerce, is involved with Brown’s buyout negotiations with school officials, said Joe Jamail, Brown’s attorney and Texas benefactor.
UCF head coach George O’Leary confirmed on Saturday that he has hired Paul Ferraro as the Knights new defensive coordinator.
Ferraro coached under O’Leary as a graduate assistant at Syracuse in 1983 and also coached defensive backs on O’Leary’s staff at Georgia Tech in 1999-2000.
The Gainesville Sun’s Robbie Andreu reports new Florida offensive coordinator Kurt Roper will make $600,000 a year. The length of the contract is unknown.
Sources tell us that West Virginia offensive line coach Ron Crook could be the leading candidate to take over the same job at Wake Forest.
Crook is a West Virginia native who arrived in Morgantown via Stanford prior to the 2013 season.
Photo: Gene J. Puskar, AP
Orangebloods.com reports that former Super Bowl champion head coach and current ESPN analyst Jon Gruden is open to hearing from the Texas athletic department about its football head coaching vacancy.
Our sources confirm that report is true. Texas’ interest in Gruden is unknown.
The Gainesville Sun’s Pat Dooley reports that Charlie Strong would not be interested in the Texas job, but our sources indicate that’s not necessarily so.
On the record, Strong gave the typical “coach speak” response.
“I don’t even think about it,” he told the Louisville Courier-Journal. “I don’t even worry about it. I have a good job here. … The only thing I can control is what’s happening right here.”
There are lots of rumors that Arizona State head coach Todd Graham could be a backup candidate at Texas — despite a legal agreement AD Steve Patterson signed when he left Arizona State for Texas that he wouldn’t hire any ASU coaches.
The guess is the two sides could come up with some sort of compensation for Graham should the ‘Horns get that far. We doubt they do.
Ex-Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe told CBS Charlotte that he’d be interested in Army job.
“Absolutely, mainly because I love the academies,” Grobe said. “I spent eleven years at the Air Force Academy with Fisher DeBerry and those kids are in my heart. I have not talked to them, so whether that’s something they would want, it’s certainly something I’m interested in.”
Sources indicate former USC offensive coordinator Clay Helton has emerged as a very strong candidate to replace the fired Brent Pease at Florida. We’re told head coach Will Muschamp is getting a lot of “not interested” as he calls around.
The Newark Star-Ledger reports that Rutgers coach Kyle Flood filled one of the three vacancies on his staff today, naming 34-year coaching veteran Mitch Browning as the team’s new offensive line coach.
Arizona State announced Wednesday morning it has promoted offensive coordinator Mike Norvell to role of Deputy Head Coach.
Sources indicate Norvell had been a top target to be the new offensive coordinator at Florida.
Arkansas State is interviewing a whole slew of candidates, so nobody seems to know where the search will end. Sources indicate they feel really good about Arizona State’s Norvell and UNC’s Blake Anderson.
CBSSports.com’s Bruce Feldman reports that Red Wolves officials spoke to Butch Davis but that he was not interested.
New UConn head coach Bob Diaco confirmed to the Hartford Courant that only offensive line coach Mike Foley had been retained.
Mike Szvetitz of the Opelika-Auburn News reports that other than the initial terms of Auburn coach Gus Malzhan’s new contract extension, no other details have been finalized – including the buyout.
Arkansas coach Brett Bielema isn’t in any hurry to hire a defensive line coach to replace Charlie Partridge, who left to be the head coach at FAU.
“I have half a dozen names that have come across my desk in the last 48 hours that are very intriguing that I’m definitely researching,” he told ArkansasNews.com. “I probably won’t bring anybody in until after the first of the year.
“I might talk to about half a dozen guys by phone, kind of off the record, and see where it’s at.”
Former Wake Forest defensive coordinator Brian Knorr joined the Air Force coaching staff on a retreat Tuesday and the is in talks to join the Falcons as a defensive assistant.
New Miami (Ohio) coach Chuck Martin has announced three additions to his coaching staff: Co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach George Barnett, co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Eric Koehler and tight ends coach Pat Welsh.
Barnett and Koehler were at Illinois State last season while Welsh was a GA at Notre Dame.
Illinois coach Tim Beckman announced that offensive coordinator Bill Cubit has agreed to a one-year contract extension that includes an increase in annual salary to $500,000 per year and keeps him on the Fighting Illini sideline through the 2015 season.
GigEm247 reports that Texas A&M co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach Marcel Yates will be defensive coordinator on Bryan Harsin’s Boise State staff.
Yates has been part of Kevin Sumlin’s staff for two seasons. He played his college ball at Boise and was defensive backs at his alma mater for nine seasons from 2003-11.
New Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson announced on Monday that Kevin Higgins, the head coach at The Citadel, will be joining the Demon Deacon coaching staff.
Higgins will serve as the assistant head coach and will coach a yet to be determined position on offense.
“I am extremely excited that Kevin Higgins has accepted our offer to join our football staff at Wake Forest,” said Clawson. “Kevin has wealth of football knowledge gained as a head coach and also through his experience in the NFL as a quarterbacks and wide receivers coach. He will be a great addition to our staff.”
Higgins was a 99-83-1 record in 16 years as a head coach. He was the head coach for seven seasons at Lehigh from 1994-2000, leading the Mountain Hawks to 56-25-1 record and three appearances in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.