Mark Hudspeth

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RumorMill

Rumor Mill Week 6: College Football’s Best Coaching Scoop

Most insiders now assume Michigan will dump Brady Hoke. Barring a major turnaround, it appears to be more a matter of when – not if – a change will be made. We continue to hear the same names.

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The Rumor Mill :: College Football Coaching News and Rumors – Thursday, Oct. 31

Pressure has eased on Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen after the Kentucky win, but there is still tons of chatter. As we’ve mentioned previously, if they make a move, expect ULL’s Mark Hudspeth to get first call.

Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen (Photo: Kerry Smith, AP)Mack Brown’s future at Texas could hinge on the Baylor game. A bad loss could spell the end – even if the Horns finish 9-3.

It’s no secret that their top target is Nick Saban. Other early names to watch include Art Briles, Jimbo Fisher, Charlie Strong and Jon Gruden.

Speaking of Gruden… This year could finally be the year he returns to coaching. However, the most likely landing spot may be his old stomping ground. There’s lots of chatter Gruden could return to the Raiders with full control over the front office.

Early names at Florida Atlantic include two first-year offensive coordinators with strong south Florida ties — Miami’s James Coley and Cincinnati’s Eddie Gran. Gran was a serious candidate when Carl Pelini was hired.

Expect staff changes at Appalachian State.

If a move is made to get rid if Dana Holgorsen at West Virginia, don’t be surprised if Rich Rod is a candidate to return home. It would definitely be interesting to watch the fan base’s reaction if that took place.

The Florida International job could open after just one year under Ron Turner.

There is major pressure building to oust Bo Pelini at Nebraska. He needs to win, badly. If he goes, former Husker quarterback and current Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost could be a candidate, although most think he needs a little more experience.

At USC, Jack Del Rio is still very much in the mix. Fresno State’s Tim DeRuyter is also getting some attention as a fall back option.

Most believe Pat Haden’s early targets will be bigger names and will likely have NFL experience.

At Toledo, second-year coach Matt Campbell has signed extension through the 2017 season.

Campbell was promoted from offensive coordinator when Tim Beckman took the job at Illinois. The Rockets are 14-7 under his watch, including a 5-3 record and 3-1 in the MAC this year.

There are lots of rumors that Boise State’s Chris Petersen may finally be ready to finally make a move.

Photo credit: Kerry Smith, AP

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The Rumor Mill :: College Football Coaching News and Rumors – Tuesday, Oct. 22

It’s not exactly a secret that Bo Pelini is in trouble at Nebraska.

Nebraska coach Bo Pelini (Photo: Doug McSchooler, AP)

Things look shaky for Nebraska coach Bo Pelini.

The situation isn’t wholly about wins and losses. He has won a lot of games, but has yet to win anything of real significance. His personality has also rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, and that combination is not a good one.

Even though it was a “no brainer” in the eyes of most fans, the general consensus among the coaching fraternity is that it was hard to justify Lane Kiffin’s firing. Kiffin won 8, 10, 7 and was fired after a 3-2 start — all while on NCAA probation.

The way they see it, Kiffin’s team had 55 scholarships vs. everyone else’s 85, and USC athletics director Pat Haden loved him in August.

Haden was appealing the NCAA sanctions and complaining about the hardships the scholarship reductions have caused the same week he fires Kiffin for not winning enough games. Amongst coaches, that generated a collective “Huh?” and will likely cause at least some potential replacements to think a little longer before taking the job.

Elsewhere in the Pac-12… We’re not sure how many games Washington has to win for Steve Sarkisian to keep his job, but one thing is clear: he’s in trouble. The Huskies are 4-3 and the opening win over Boise doesn’t look so impressive anymore.

Three consecutive losses — the last two by 21 and 29 — do not bode well. Upcoming games vs. Cal and Colorado look like wins, but UCLA, Oregon State and Washington State will tell the tale, and he needs a strong finish. Seven (or fewer) regular seasons wins could get him fired.

Dana Holgorsen is in jeopardy at West Virginia. It certainly looks like he’s going to win fewer games each consecutive season. After winning 10 in 2011, the Mountaineers won seven last season and are 3-3 with a tough schedule ahead this year. Add in off-the-field and personal issues that plagued his early time in Morgantown and things don’t look good.

You can also add Mississippi State to the watch list. Though one source said earlier this week that Dan Mullen was safe, multiple others see it differently. Apparently, Mullen has rubbed some folks the wrong way and made his share of enemies in Starkville.

If that wasn’t enough, the natives are plenty restless about his team’s performance on the field. At 3-3 with road games against South Carolina and Texas A&M plus home games vs. Alabama and arch-rival Ole Miss still on the docket, there will be plenty of sleepless nights ahead for Mullen.

What’s perhaps even worse for Mullen, State fans love Mark Hudspeth, who served as the Bulldogs wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator under Mullen in 2009-10 and is currently head coach at Louisiana-Lafayette.

Hudspeth’s Ragin’ Cajuns went 9-4 each of the past two seasons and currently sit at 4-2 with a slew of probable wins on the schedule. Chances are, he’ll look like an even more enticing candidate come December.

Also keep an eye on Minnesota. Jerry Kill has done a great job, but his health may force a change there.

Photo credit: Doug McSchooler, AP

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Report: James Willis will be defensive coordinator at Louisiana-Lafayette

James Willis will be named defensive coordinator at Louisiana-Lafayette. (Photo: Zach Long/Lubbock Avalanche-Journal)

James Willis will be named DC at Louisiana-Lafayette. (Photo: Zach Long/Lubbock Avalanche-Journal)

[dropcap]F[/dropcap]ormer Texas Tech defensive coordinator James Willis will be hired at the same position for Louisiana-Lafayette, according to media reports.

Willis, who replaces Greg Stewart at ULL, was defensive coordinator on Tommy Tuberville’s Texas Tech staff during the 2011 season. However, he resigned before the Red Raider’s bowl game following a domestic violence incident.

Willis has served as defensive coordinator for the UFL’s Virginia Destroyers since his resignation at Texas Tech.

Ragin’ Cajun head coach Mark Hudspeth announced last week that Stewart would not return for the 2013 season. In a release, Hudspeth gave no reason for Stewart’s departure, but thanked him for his contributions that led to the team’s 18 wins and two New Orleans Bowl titles over the past two years.

Stewart, who had been at ULL since Hudspeth was hired in 2011, said in a prepared statement, “I have decided to go a different direction (professionally), and I am looking forward to the future opportunities for both me and my family.”

A standout linebacker at Auburn, Willis was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the fifth round of the 1993 NFL Draft. During an eight-year professional career, Willis also played Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks, and the Birmingham Thunderbolts of the now defunct XFL.

When his professional playing career ended, Willis returned to Auburn to complete his degree and served as a student assistant in 2001-02. He became a defensive graduate assistant in 2003 under then-defensive coordinator Gene Chizik.

Willis was hired as linebackers coach at Rhode Island in 2004 and moved to Temple in the same capacity in 2005.

Willis returned to his alma mater when Tommy Tuberville hired him as linebackers coach in 2006. He remained at Auburn until Tuberville resigned in 2008, and Chizik, who was named the Tigers’ head coach, released all of Tuberville’s former staff.

Chizik changed his mind two weeks later, however, and re-hired Willis on December 26, 2008. Hard feelings from his initial release remained, though, and Willis caused a stir among Auburn fans when he left to join Nick Saban’s staff at arch-rival Alabama just a month later.

During his time at Auburn, Willis became known for his recruiting prowess, and was particularly successful recruiting the talent-rich Mobile, Ala. area. It was bad enough that a former Tiger legend was moving to their cross-state rival, but the fact that it happened just two weeks for 2009’s National Signing Day made it an even harder for Auburn fans to swallow.

Willis coached at Alabama for two seasons, including the 2010 BCS National Championship team, before being named Tuberville’s defensive coordinator at Texas Tech.

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