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)