Nick Saban

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The Rumor Mill :: College Football Coaching News and Rumors – Tuesday, Jan. 14

It looks like Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason has emerged as the favorite to replace James Franklin at Vanderbilt.

Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason (Photo: Nick Ut, AP)

Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason (Photo: Nick Ut, AP)

Multiple sources tell us that Mason is the leading candidate for the job, and CBSSports.com’s Jeremy Fowler reports an interview is scheduled.

Alabama has hired Texas assistant (and former Crimson Tide assistant) Bo Davis to coach defensive line.

Sources tell us to expect even more movement on Nick Saban’s staff. Multiple sources indicate secondary coach Greg Brown is likely to move on. We’re also told there could be one to two other changes.

SI.com’s Pete Thamel reports longtime Penn State assistant Larry Johnson could join Urban Meyer’s staff at Ohio State.

The 61-year-old Johnson, a PSU assistant since 1996, told PennLive on Monday night he met with Franklin twice and was offered the opportunity to continue as defensive line coach at Penn State.

But, after considering the offer, LJ decided to move on. He said he has not retired and plans to continue coaching.

OSU defensive line coach Mike Vrabel joined Bill O’Brien’s Texans staff.

Speaking of the Buckeyes, Adam Caplan reports should Jim Caldwell wind up getting the Lions head coaching job, he could add former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel to his offensive staff.

The Seattle Times reports Washington’s eight new assistant coaches are guaranteed a combined salary north of $3 million in their first year on Chris Petersen’s staff, making them among the highest-paid staffs in the Pac-12 Conference.

Hot names for the UAB head coaching job include Jacksonville State head coach Bill Clark, Cincinnati offensive coordinator Eddie Gran, Hoover High School head coach Josh Niblett and former Arkansas and Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt.

Texas‘ new football coach, Charlie Strong, will be paid $5 million for the 2014 season and the school will pay Strong’s $4.375 million buyout to Louisville, according to financial terms approved Monday by the university system’s board of regents.

Sources indicate offensive line coach Joe Wickline and quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson are likely to run the Longhorns’ offense together.

Horns247 reports Les Koenning Jr., Joker Phillips and Mike Groh are the three leading contenders for the wide receivers position. The receivers job is the last vacant spot on the Longhorns’ staff.

Dawgs247 reports Florida State’s Jeremy Pruitt has emerged as the leader to replace Todd Grantham as Georgia’s defensive coordinator.

DuckTerritory reports that Oregon will hire longtime assistant Don Pellum as its new defensive coordinator and that the Ducks will look to hire Philadelphia Eagles assistant Erik Chinander to fill out the staff.

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Report: Saban officially hires Kiffin as Bama's offensive coordinator

As we mentioned first on Tuesday, Alabama’s Nick Saban had a backup plan when Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier bolted for Michigan, and now he’s made it official.

Alabama has hired former USC head coach Lane Kiffin as the Crimson Tide's offensive coordinator. (Photo: Danny Moloshok, AP) Saban has hired former USC head coach Lane Kiffin to replace Nussmeier, according to an ESPN report.

Last month, Saban made headlines when he brought Kiffin in to share ideas with the Tide offensive staff.

“Lane is a really good offensive coach, and I’ve always had a tremendous amount of respect for him,” Saban said at the time. “Just to come in and brainstorm a little bit to get some professional ideas with our guys is a really positive thing.”

ESPN reports that Kiffin agreed to a 3-year deal, and the contract is being completed.

Kiffin, who was fired as coach at USC in September after a 62-41 loss at Arizona State, was 28-15 record in three-plus seasons with the Trojans. He went 7-6 in his only season at Tennessee and 5-15 in two seasons with the Oakland Raiders.

Prior to becoming the Raiders’ coach, Kifffin spent six seasons as an assistant at USC, the last two as the Trojans’ offensive coordinator.

Photo: Danny Moloshok, AP

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The Rumor Mill :: College Football Coaching News and Rumors – Sunday, Dec. 29

There’s certainly plenty of smoke that Penn State’s Bill O’Brien is primed for a return to the NFL.

Penn State coach Bill O'Brien will be named head coach of the Houston Texans. (Photo: Gene J. Puskar, AP)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

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The Rumor Mill :: College Football Coaching News and Rumors – Tuesday, Dec. 17

Vanderbilt’s James Franklin was asked about Texas head coaching job on Monday. Naturally, Franklin didn’t exactly deny interest.

Could Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin become a candidate for the Texas job? (Photo: Mark Humphrey, AP)“Really excited about the program-development period that we’re in right now and working with these young guys,” Franklin told the Tennessean. “Really excited about playing Houston. We’ve watched them on film. I think they’re really talented. I think it’s going to be a challenge for us. That’s what our focus is.

“Any of those other things, you know, we don’t talk about that are outside of our area of control or focus or concern. We’re focused on getting better as an organization and then getting ready for Houston.”

In other words, he’d love to have the job, but realizes he’s not in the top tier, but hopes to get a shot to convince the Longhorns he should be.

Brian Davis reports Arizona State coach Todd Graham is not a candidate at Texas.

Arizona State confirmed a written agreement between ASU president Michael Crow and former Sun Devils and current Texas AD Steve Patterson that he can’t hire any ASU coach.

The Detroit Free Press calls Michigan State coach and Lone Star State native Mark Dantonio a “dark horse” candidate for the Texas job.

USA Today reports that the six-year, $30 million contract Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin signed last week contains buyout provisions that would result in Sumlin being paid all of the money remaining on his contract if he is fired without cause at any point during the deal.

However, it requires him to pay only a $5 million buyout if he terminates the deal without cause before the Aggies’ last game of the 2016 season, including any bowl game.

Stanford coach David Shaw says that he’s not interested in leaving for the NFL.

Speaking of Stanford, sources tell us that Cardinal assistant Mike Sanford could be in line for the offensive coordinator job at Boise State.

Sources indicate that North Carolina offensive coordinator Blake Anderson’s interview for the Arkansas State head job went very well.

Anderson fits the profile the Red Wolves are looking for: young, energetic and an offensive mind.

We are also told Duke offensive coordinator Kurt Roper could become a serious candidate for the ASU job.

Other names linked to the job: Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, former USC assistant Ed Orgeron, Arizona State offensive coordinator Mike Norvell and Cincinnati offensive coordinator Eddie Gran.

Should Anderson land the Arkansas State job, expect ULL offensive coordinator Jay Johnson and Texas co-offensive coordinator Darrell Wyatt to get serious consideration at UNC.

Sources indicate that Nebraska’s Tim Beck is still likely in the running to become Florida’s new offensive coordinator, as is UNC’s Anderson. There’s no guarantee Anderson would accept the job – even if he doesn’t land Arkansas State.

We’re now told UCLA’s Noel Mazzone and Arizona State’s Norvell are unlikely to make a move to Gainesville. Both are quite stable at their current positions.

Jason LaConfora reports that Penn State’s Bill O’Brien was close to taking the Eagles job a year ago and is now ready to return to the NFL.

ESPN reports that former USC coach Lane Kiffin is visiting Alabama this week to evaluate the Tide’s offense and “to share ideas and exchange ideas and [for] professional development.”

In other words, Saban feels sorry for him.

We’re told that Sam Houston State coach Wille Fritz is a serious candidate for the Bowling Green job and is scheduled to interview.

We are also told LSU offensive line coach Greg Studrawa is a in the mix. Studrawa is a graduate of Bowling Green and spent six seasons there as an assistant.

We continue to hear that Bo Pelini’s status remains quite shaky at Nebraska, and a recent report seems to support that notion.

Kirk Bohls reports that Mack Brown’s attorney, Joe Jamail, got a call from someone saying that he represented Nebraska and was seeking Mack’s interest.

“He’s not going to Nebraska,” Jamail said.

Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst sent a one-word text message response to the Omaha World-Herald about the matter:

“Deny!”

Bohls also reports that Brown has TV offers on the table and “one of biggest California talent agencies” wanted to set up Mack meeting soon.

There are more changes for the TCU offensive staff.

Last week, Gary Patterson added Houston offensive coordinator Doug Meacham to his staff. This week it’s Texas Tech co-offensive coordinator and outside receivers coach Sonny Cumbie coming aboard.

Cumbie will share the co-offenisve coordinator title with Meacham. The former Texas Tech signal caller will also coach quarterbacks.

Many Red Raiders fans are scratching their heads at what appears to be a lateral move away from his alma mater, but Cumbie will no doubt get a much bigger hand in TCU’s offense than he did at Tech, where Kliff Kingsbury is the chief offensive architect.

FCS powerhouse North Dakota State wasted no time in replacing head coach Craig Bohl, who last week became head coach at Wyoming.

The Bison elevated defensive coordinator Chris Klieman to their head coaching position on Sunday. The 47-year-old Klieman, who turned down a chance to join Bohl at Wyoming, has spent three seasons at NDSU, the last two as defensive coordinator.

His units have been at the top of the FCS statistically and are allowing just 11 points per game this season.

Photo: Mark Humphrey, AP

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Nick Saban says he 'never considered' going to Texas

Friday evening Nick Saban agreed to a long-term extension and raise at Alabama.

Nick and Terry Saban (Photo: Vasha Hunt, AL.com)An hour or so after that news was announced, word leaked that Mack Brown would remain head coach at Texas.

The timing of the two events led to speculation that Saban’s decision had something to do with the decision to keep Brown in place, but Saban says that becoming coach of the Longhorns is something he “never considered.”

“The way this sort of got spun, it was a little bit more like, ‘OK, he got a new contract at Alabama, so he’s going to stay at Alabama instead of going to Texas,'” Saban told ESPN.com’s Chris Low on Saturday. “I never considered going to Texas. That wasn’t even a conversation.

“I knew that if Mack stepped down, there would probably be an opportunity, but it wasn’t something I was interested in doing, not at this stage in my career.”

Details of the new deal have not yet been released, but the contract is expected to pay Saban upwards of $7 million per season.

According to Saban, his agent Jimmy Sexton has been working on the extension with Alabama “all the way back into the season,” and the timing of the deal being completed just after the end of the regular season made for a sticky situation.

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mack Brown,” he said. “Mack Brown is the coach at Texas. He deserves the right, based on his body of work, to be able to leave the program the way he wants to leave the program. It wasn’t fair to him or to me to be speculating about this job, which I haven’t talked to anybody there about.

“Really, the whole thing from my perspective stunk, but there wasn’t a hell of a lot I could do about it.”

Saban hopes this will be the last time he has to deal with speculation of him considering other jobs.

“Maybe this will be what the Cleveland Browns, Tampa Bay thing was to the NFL the last couple of years. That kind of ended the pro speculation,” Saban said.

“Maybe this will end the college speculation. This is where I’m going to finish my coaching career.”

Photo: Vasha Hunt, AL.com

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Status quo: Mack Brown still Texas coach; Saban agrees to deal at Bama

It looks like the rumors of the end of Mack Brown’s era as Texas coach were greatly exaggerated.

Mack Brown (Photo: AP)Brown’s Friday evening meeting with school president Bill Powers and athletic director Steve Patterson came and went and, according to all reports, Brown will coach the Longhorns in 2014.

The news came roughly an hour after Alabama officials announced that Nick Saban has agreed to terms for a long-term extension.

Coincidence? Probably.

Regardless, even if Brown’s status changes in coming days or weeks, it looks like Texas’ top choice as his replacement is off the board.

This probably isn’t the end to the Texas soap opera, but it looks like the status quo will hold … at least for now.

Photo: AP

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The Rumor Mill :: College Football Coaching News and Rumors – Thursday, Dec. 12

Yesterday reporters asked 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh about the Texas job, and Harbaugh wasn’t amused.

49ers coach Jim Harbaugh responded to reporters' questions about the Texas head coaching job. (Photo: Bill Kostroun, AP)“Are you trying to be funny?” he asked.

Harbaugh, who reiterated that he doesn’t talk about jobs other than one he has, turned down USC flat a few weeks ago.

As great a job as Texas is, the Longhorns are almost certain to be met with the same cold shoulder.

The idea of Harbaugh leaving the 49ers — a team he led to to the Super Bowl last year and, at 9-4 this season, has positioned for a third-straight NFC playoff appearance — to return to college is, to borrow Harbaugh’s phrase, almost laughable.

Still, you can’t blame the UT brass for trying.

Meanwhile, Mack Brown remains the Texas head coach … for now.

School president Bill Powers, a staunch Brown supporter, met with the UT Board of Regents on Thursday where it was announced he’ll remain university president.

There were reports that Powers, Brown and athletic director Steve Patterson would meet Thursday evening, but the Dallas Morning News says that won’t happen.

Powerful Texas booster Red McCombs, a public supporter of Brown, said Thursday that Brown deserves to stay — or leave — on his own terms.

“I think that Mack has earned the right to choose whatever he wants to do, whether he wants to stay or he wants to go,” McCombs said, following Brown’s appearance at an Alamo Bowl press conference Thursday in San Antonio.

If Brown decides to leave, McCombs says that money won’t be an issue in finding his replacement.

“All the money that is not up at the Vatican is at UT,” McCombs said.

Joe Jamail, Brown’s friend and attorney weighed in again this afternoon telling the Austin American-Statesman,  “If (Mack Brown) has made a decision, he hasn’t told me, and I think he would.”

Houston Sports Radio 610 cites a source as stating that Brown will resign on Friday, and that Nick Saban will become the Longhorns coach — perhaps on the same day.

According to the source, Texas is expected to offer Saban “a contract that will pay him at least $6 million annually with performances incentives believed to be worth and extra $2 million a season.”

In addition to the salary, “Texas alums are trying to ‘pass the hat’ to collect $10-$20 million extra to give Saban as a bonus for coming to the school.”

We don’t really believe  the report. Sources confirm Saban is likely to get at least $7 million per year if he stays in Tuscaloosa. A Texas offer is likely to be much larger. Sources also tell us a deal is in place at Alabama, but Saban has yet to act on it.

While Texas remains an option, we certainly don’t believe there is an agreement in place. At least not yet. Most of our sources still believe Saban will stay at Bama, but no one seems to know for sure.

UConn officially announced Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco as the Huskies’ new head coach.

Diaco’s contract starts at $1.5 million per year, consisting of a $400,000 base salary and $1.1 million in additional compensation. He’ll receive increases of $50,000 per year over the five-year deal.

Incentives include one month’s base salary for making a bowl game, and up to $400,000 for winning the national championship. If Diaco remains head coach on December 31, 2018, he’ll get a $500,000 retention bonus.

You can read UConn’s full offer letter HERE.

TCU has formally announced the addition of Houston offensive coordinator Doug Meacham.

Though details of Meacham’s deal were not made public, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that he will be paid $350,000 a year.

Meacham was making $300,000 in his one season as offensive coordinator at Houston. His contract included a $90,000 buyout if he left before February 2014.

Prior to Houston, Meacham spent eight seasons as tight ends and receivers coach at his alma mater Oklahoma State. He served as OSU’s passing game coordinator from 2008-09.

“Our goal is to remain a physical football team,” Patterson said in a release. “Coach Meacham was part of an Oklahoma State system that was highly successful throwing the football, and he continued that in his one year at Houston.

“I’m real excited about the kind of person coach Meacham is and how well he fits our staff. We haven’t talked to anybody who doesn’t think the world of him as a person and coach.”

According to the Star-Telegram, TCU’s former co-offensive coordinators Rusty Burns and Jarrett Anderson have been offered other staff positions, but it could take more than a month for the entire makeup of the staff to be finalized.

Wide receivers coach Curtis Luper has interviewed for the head job at his alma mater Stephen F. Austin. If Luper gets that job, Burns could return to coaching receivers.

Anderson, who has been part of TCU staff since 1998 when he was a graduate assistant, also coached receivers (2001-08) before he was promoted to co-offensive coordinator with Justin Fuente in 2009.

Fuente became the head coach at Memphis following the 2011 season.

Informed sources tell us Ohio State assistant Stan Drayton has emerged as a frontrunner at FAU.

Candidates for the Arkansas State job are expected to include Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, former USC assistant Ed Orgeron and Cincinnati offensive coordinator Eddie Gran.

Texas A&M regents have unanimously approved a new contract for head coach Kevin Sumlin. Sumlin’s name has been tied to the Houston Texans vacancy.

Photo: Bill Kostroun, AP 

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