Mike Thomas

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The Rumor Mill :: College Football Coaching News and Rumors – Monday, Dec. 2

Boise State coach Chris Petersen was in play at USC, but has reportedly withdrawn his name from the search.

Boise State coach Chris Petersen has withdrawn his name from the USC job. (Photo: AP)ESPN’s Joe Schad reports that Petersen withdrew his name “after mutual interest.”

FightOn247 reported on Sunday that Ed Orgeron or Vanderbilt’s James Franklin would likely next in line should Petersen decline, while ESPN reported that the Trojans were down to Petersen and Franklin.

According to ESPN L.A.’s Arash Markazi, Franklin and Petersen have been on Pat Haden’s short list for awhile with Franklin in the lead. Markazi also reports that USC is prepared to make Orgeron the highest paid assistant and an associate head coach.

ESPN L.A. also reported that Washington coach Steve Sarkisian interviewed with Haden over the weekend, but Sarkisian says that no interview took place.

Wyoming has fired head coach Dave Christensen. Sources tell us that Sam Houston State coach Willie Fritz is considered a serious candidate to replace him.

Oakland Raiders assistant and Wyoming alum Ted Gilmore is also rumored to be a candidate.

Should Fritz head to Wyoming, look for Texas co-OC Darrell Wyatt to get serious consideration to replace Fritz.

Texas A&M and head coach Kevin Sumlin have agreed to a six year deal worth $5 million per year. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports that Sumlin has agreed to not pursue any NFL jobs as part of his new contract.

We continue to hear Kyle Flood is in serious jeopardy at Rutgers. Flood says he’s not at all concerned with his future.

If Flood is fired between now and Feb. 1, he is owed an $850,000 buyout.

Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads announced that offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Courtney Messingham and running backs coach Kenith Pope have been let go.

We continue to hear that the situation at Texas remains very fluid. A win at Baylor and the Longhorns gain at least a share of the Big 12.

Would Texas force Mack Brown out after a 9-3 campaign and a Big 12 Championship? Most of our sources don’t think so. However, a bad loss to Baylor and it could be time to turn the page.

At TCU, multiple sources tell us to expect major changes on the offensive side of the ball.

Florida Head coach Will Muschamp fired offensive coordinator Brent Pease and offensive line coach Tim Davis.

We’ve heard all sorts of names over the past few days. Possibilities at offensive coordinator include Mike Mularkey, Lane Kiffin, Clay Helton and James Coley, among others.

Offensive line candidates are rumored to range from Neil Callaway to Stacy Searles to Joe Wickline.

New Mexico State fired defensive coordinator David Elson.

Another Ohio State assistant is rumored to be a candidate for the FAU job.

It was reported a couple of weeks ago that Buckeyes defensive coordinator Luke Fickell had interviewed for the job. At the time, Urban Meyer said he didn’t, but Fickell’s name has been hot ever since.

Now, sources indicate Buckeyes assistant head coach and running backs coach Stan Drayton could be a candidate.

FAU athletic director Pat Chun has told associates he wants to hire someone who can recruit Florida (a smart move), and Drayton has had recruiting success wherever he’s been.

Chun spent almost his entire career at Ohio State and apparently that’s all he knows. He has even enlisted  Meyer and A.D. Gene Smith to assist in his search.

So, Drayton fills two requirements: He works at Ohio State and he was a Florida with Meyer. Two boxes checked. Could he be the guy?

Luke Stampini of 247Sports reported Monday morning that Western Kentucky offensive coordinator Jeff Brohm could interview for the the FAU position.

Georgia’s Mark Richt has confirmed that defensive coordinator Todd Grantham will be back next season.

Charlie Weis‘ job at Kansas is safe. Athletic director Sheahon Zenger is confident that Weis has the program moving in the right direction.

Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas tells WCIA Channel 3 TV that Tim Beckman will return next season.

UCLA has fired running backs coach Steve Broussard. Sources indicate that USC running backs coach Tommie Robinson could be on UCLA’s radar.

Photo: Otto Kitsinger, AP

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The Rumor Mill :: College Football Coaching News and Rumors – Wednesday, Nov. 20

Sources indicate the heat is rising on Illinois coach Tim Beckman.

Smiles have been been tough to come by lately for Nebraska's Bo Pelini and Illinois' Tim Beckman. (Photo: Nati Harnik, AP)

Smiles have been been tough to come by lately for Nebraska’s Bo Pelini and Illinois’ Tim Beckman. (Photo: Nati Harnik, AP)

Athletic director Mike Thomas has been noncommittal about his future. That was before Beckman almost came to blows with OC Bill Cubit on the sidelines Saturday.

Beckman is 5-17 in his second season at the helm. Thomas fired former coach Ron Zook after he led the Illini to back-to-back bowls. (Those Illini teams won back-to-back bowls for the first time in program history).

We’re hearing that Nebraska’s Bo Pelini is likely to be safe if the Huskers finish 9-3. That is, unless they give up 70 in the bowl game ( a la last year’s Big Ten title game).

Frank Solich was fired after going 9-3, but sources say current AD Shawn Eichorst probably isn’t likely to be as quick on the trigger as Steve Pederson.

Oklahoma State handed Mack Brown his worst home loss as Texas head coach on Saturday, beating the No. 24 Longhorns, 38-13. It was Brown’s eighth straight defeat against a ranked team at home.

The reality is that Brown likely needs to beat Texas Tech and Baylor (and have Baylor beat Oklahoma State). That scenario would give the Longhorns the Big 12 title and a BCS bowl berth.

Anything less than that and it’s probably over.

In an interview with Steve Hartman and Pat O’Brien, LA Daily News writer Scott Wolff says Ed Orgeron has a 50% chance of landing the USC job on a permanent basis. If the Trojans beat UCLA, that could increase to 75%.

Former Ole Miss Chancellor Robert Khayat says he’d give Orgeron another shot.

“If Mr. Haden asked me that question, given the performance, the 180-degree turnaround — if I’m the president or chancellor, I would recommend that we give him a shot at it,” Khayat said. “[Orgeron] knows what it’s like to be hired, fired, to win and lose.

“I’ve probably said more than I should — I should answer this as a hypothetical. But I would want to see him have the opportunity to be a head coach.”

There’s been some speculation privately – and now publicly – that FIU coach Ron Turner could leave on his own accord and head back to the NFL. Sources indicate there’s a growing movement to dump both him and athletic director Pete Garcia.

Southern Miss coach Todd Monken announced a change in the Golden Eagles coaching staff Tuesday afternoon. Graduate assistant Grant Garner will replace veteran assistant Pete Perot as offensive line coach for the final two games of the season.

Rhode Island head coach Joe Trainer has been released from the final year of his contract, athletic director Thorr Bjorn announced.

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The Rumor Mill :: College Football Coaching News and Rumors – Wednesday, Nov. 13

Sources tell us that, while there’s still a chance that Minnesota’s Jerry Kill could opt not to return in 2014, it’s much more likely he will come back and give it another go if he can get his health issues under control.

Minnesota coach Jerry Kill could be in line for a raise. (Photo: AP)

Minnesota coach Jerry Kill could be in line for a raise. (Photo: AP)

According to the Pioneer Press, Kill is likely to receive a raise. Yes, Kill has health issues, but it’s hard to argue with the job he’s done. The Gophers have won eight games in ten tries in 2013.

Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin has refused to address rumors linking him to the USC job.

There are rampant rumors of a rift with his A&M A.D. Eric Hyman, and Johnny Football and Mike Evans will be off the the NFL soon.

Sumlin’s career has taken him all over the country, including a stop at Washington State. He fits any everywhere.

We still think it’s more likely the Trojans end up with a coach with an NFL pedigree, but anything is possible.

Norm Chow isn’t not sure he likes being a head coach. He told CBS announcers, “I’m not sure if I am cut out for this head coaching thing.”

At 0-9, it’s certainly possible that Hawaii is looking for a new coach come December.

All signs point to Indiana’s Kevin Wilson being safe. The Hoosiers score points in bunches, but they’re 114th in points allowed. Wilson will likely get 2014 to get the defense fixed and get to a bowl.

IllinoisTim Beckman inherited a team that had won back to back bowls for the first time in program history, but he has yet to win a Big Ten game in nearly two full seasons.

A.D. Mike Thomas recently told the Chicago Sun-Times that the program is getting better (apparently 2-10 and 3-6 are better than 7-6), but refused to address Beckman’s future.

“I’m not going to get into hypotheticals,” Thomas said. “You ask the question, ‘Is the program developing and getting better?’ I think it is. I’m looking forward to continuing progress in the program.”

We doubt Beckman gets fired in his second season, but if the Illini end the season with losses to Ohio State, Purdue and Northwestern, that might be enough to cut the cord.

Mississippi State is 4-5 with Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss remaining. If the Bulldogs get to 6-6, Dan Mullen is more than likely clear to return next season. Anything worse and things get dicey.

If the Bullies were to drop all three remaining games, it’s very possible Mullen could be shown the door.

We continue to hear Boise State’s Chris Petersen is open to a move.

Sources indicate that West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen will likely return in 2014. The Mountaineers are playing better and athletic director Oliver Luck didn’t get the Texas. With Luck still in Morgantown, Holgorsen is highly likely to get another year.

There’s a lot of chatter about Charlie Weis’ status at Kansas.

The Jayhawks fired Mark Mangino two seasons after we won 12 games and the Orange Bowl. He was 8-5 and 5-7 the following two seasons. Then, Turner Gill went 5-19 in his two seasons in Lawrence before being dismissed. Weis is 3-18 after 21 games.

It’s hard to see how Kansas makes another change after only two seasons. We think there’s a chance this job opens – but it’s more likely it doesn’t.

What about Mangino? He’s back at his alma mater loving life…

We’re hearing that UConn is in the market for an up-and-coming coordinator; head coaching experience is not a requirement. We also hear that they have money to spend to get the right guy.

At Florida, sources indicate that Will Muschamp is likely to survive, but look for major staff changes on the offensive side of the ball.

If the Gators finish 5-7, which is likely, it will be the first time Florida has had a losing record since 1979. Even with the mounting injuries, that’s hard to swallow.

Can A.D. Jeremy Foley handle the heat and keep Muschamp in place for 2014?

We’ll find out soon.

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Illinois AD noncommittal on Beckman's future

Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas was hoping for improvement in Tim Beckman’s second season as head coach.

Illinois coach Tim Beckman (Photo: John Beale, AP)It couldn’t get much worse than than the 2-10 2012 campaign, after all.

Following a 3-1 start, things looked promising. But five games — and five straight conference losses — later, the progress is a little murkier.

New offensive coordinator Bill Cubit has improved the offense. The Illini is scoring 29.7 points per game this season, good enough for eighth best in the league.

Problem is, an atrocious defense has gotten even worse, allowing 34.7 points per game this season vs. 32.7 in 2012.

The result is a 3-6 record and an 0-5 conference mark.

Illinois faces Ohio State at home on Saturday followed by a road trip to Purdue before the closing out the season at home against Northwestern.

Assuming a 1-2 finish, Beckman technically will have improved things from last season.

But is it enough to save his job?

“I’m not going to get into hypotheticals,” Thomas told the Chicago Sun-Times. “You ask the question, ‘Is the program developing and getting better?’ I think it is. I’m looking forward to continuing progress in the program.”

The Illini has lost a disturbing 19 straight conference games, tied for second-worst all time. Northwestern’s 38-straight conference losses between 1978-82 probably won’t ever be touched, but with Ohio State visiting Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Illinois owning second place outright is a virtual certainty.

If Illinois goes winless in its last three, things could get ugly in a hurry.

“Obviously, we don’t want the streak to become the focus,” Thomas said. “We want to get past it. That’s important to us.

“I think we need to start winning football games.”

Photo: John Beale, AP

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