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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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The Rumor Mill :: College Football Coaching News and Rumors – Monday, Oct. 21

Sources indicate that even if the NFL comes calling, expect Charlie Strong to stay put in college.

Sources indicate that even if the NFL comes calling, expect Charlie Strong to stay put in college.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Sunday that Louisville’s Charlie Strong and Stanford’s David Shaw have been tabbed by the NFL’s recently formed advisory panel to help to identify potential minority coaching candidates.

According to Schefter, the league “will be an upset if Strong is not a leading candidate for various NFL head coaching openings this winter.”

Not so fast.

Sources close to Strong indicate he’s inclined to stay in college — no matter what the NFL’s advisory panel suggests.

The 53-year old Strong is in his fourth season at Louisville and signed an eight-year extension worth $3.7 million per year in late January. The Cardinals are 31-15 during Strong’s tenure, including a 6-1 mark this season.

At Florida, sources in Gainesville indicate Will Muschamp is currenly not in danger of losing his job, regardless of how the Gators finish. Of course, things change quickly in college football. We do expect a staff shakeup on the offensive side.

Speaking of Florida, this was the week Ron Zook was fired in year three. Zook’s record was 20-13 overall and 14-7 in the SEC. Muschamp’s record is 22-11 overall and 13-8 in the SEC. Let that simmer for a minute…

Despite three wins in a row including a Red River Rivalry triumph over arch-rival Oklahoma, we’re told Mack Brown is still not out of the woods at Texas. An 8-4 record might not be enough, perhaps even 9-3 if that loss is a blowout to Baylor.

If the Longhorns do make a change, look for Nick Saban to get the first call. Jimbo Fisher, Art Briles and Charlie Strong are also likely to make the initial list of candidates.

Keep an eye on West Virginia, Virginia, Oklahoma State and Mississippi State. They could all open.

Eastern Michigan and UNLV are in serious jeopardy.

At USC, we’re told to keep an eye on coaches with an NFL background. Also, don’t rule out Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin.

Photo credit: Keith Srakocic, AP

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Kiffin promotes Helton to OC; hires three

Lane Kiffin's 2013 coaching staff is complete. (Photo: Louis Sinco/LA Times)

Lane Kiffin’s 2013 coaching staff is complete. (Photo: Louis Sinco/LA Times)

[dropcap]U[/dropcap]SC’s coaching staff is set.

Lane Kiffin promoted Clay Helton to offensive coordinator and announced the hiring of three new assistants. Mike Summers will be offensive line coach, while Tommie Robinson will coach running backs and Mike Ekelar will coach linebackers.

Helton has been the Trojans’ quarterbacks coach the past three seasons. He added the passing game coordinator title in 2012.

Summers spent the past three seasons as Kentucky’s offensive line and running game coordinator. Before Kentucky, he was hired by Bobby Petrino in 2003, and coached with Petrino until 2009 through stops at Lousiville, the Atlanta Falcons and Arkansas. He accepted a position to re-join Petrino at Western Kentucky in January.

Robinson spent the past three seasons as the Arizona Cardinals’ running backs coach. He joined the Cardinals after working the previous three seasons as running backs coach at Miami (Fla.).

Ekeler spent the past two seasons on Kevin Wilson’s staff at Indiana. Before that, he was linebackers coach at Nebraska for three seasons (2008-10).

James Cregg will remain as offensive line coach working alongside Summers, while associate head coach and special teams coordinator John Baxter will add the tight ends to his coaching duties.

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Report: Indiana's Mike Ekeler will be linebackers coach at USC

According to reports, Indiana's Mike Ekeler will be the new linebackers coach at USC. (Photo: Lincoln Journal-Star)

According to reports, Indiana’s Mike Ekeler will be the new linebackers coach at USC. (Photo: Lincoln Journal-Star)

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]ndiana co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Mike Ekeler will be the linebackers coach at USC.

Gerard Martinez of USCFootball reported via Twitter that Ekeler had been offered the position and accepted.

Ekeler spent the past two seasons on Kevin Wilson’s Hoosier staff. Before that, he was linebackers coach at Nebraska for three seasons (2008-10).

Ekeler will replace Scottie Hazelton, who left in January to become defensive coordinator at Nevada.

He earned $306,600 last year at Indiana.

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Report: Summers hired as USC offensive line coach

USC will hire Mike Summers as offensive line coach. (Photo: Benjamin Krain/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

USC will hire Mike Summers as offensive line coach. (Photo: Benjamin Krain/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

[dropcap]M[/dropcap]ike Summers will be hired as USC’s offensive line coach, according to Bruce Feldman of CBSSports.com.

Summers spent the past three seasons as Kentucky’s offensive line and running game coordinator. Before Kentucky, he was hired by Bobby Petrino in 2003, and coached with Petrino until 2009 through stops at Lousiville, the Atlanta Falcons and Arkansas. He accepted a position to re-join Petrino at Western Kentucky in January.

He coached alongside USC wide receivers coach Tee Martin during the 2010-11 seasons.

James Cregg, the Trojans’ offensive line coach the past three seasons, will remain on staff.

Summers made $289,700 last season with the Wildcats.

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FSU: Fisher meets with Johnson, no offer made

USC quarterbacks coach Tee Martin's name has been linked with the opening at FSU. (Photo: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports)

Tee Martin’s name has been linked with the opening at FSU. (Photo: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports)

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]e reported on Wednesday that Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher was meeting with ex-UCLA and San Francisco 49er offensive coordinator Mike Johnson about the FSU quarterbacks coach opening.

Johnson left Tallahassee without a job offer, and Fisher is apparently meeting with another candidate today. This would be a break Fisher’s usual protocol of meeting with one candidate before making a hire.

One name that has been linked to the job is USC quarterbacks coach Tee Martin. Randy Sanders, Martin’s quarterback coach during his playing days at Tennessee, is now running backs coach at FSU.

Florida State may have difficulty making Martin a competitive financial offer, however. USC is a private school and does not release details of assistant coach salaries, but Martin is rumored to make in the $300,000 range.

Martin turned down an opportunity to join Butch Jones‘ staff at his alma mater in January.

Former Florida State offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach James Coley left for Miami in January. He will serve as play caller on Al Golden’s staff, something that Fisher was not ready to turn over to Coley at FSU.

Fisher has not decided whether the new quarterbacks coach will also carry the offensive coordinator title, according to a source.

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Alabama or USC: Could Pat Hill be returning to the college game?

Pat Hill could be in line to return college coaching as offensive line coach at Alabama or USC. (Photo: Bryan Cole/The Collegian-Fresno State)

Pat Hill could be in line to return college coaching as offensive line coach at Alabama or USC. (Photo: Bryan Cole/The Collegian-Fresno State)

[dropcap]C[/dropcap]ould Pat Hill be returning to the college game?

It looks like a strong possibility.

Hill, the former Fresno State head coach, was fired in December 2011 after 15 seasons with the Bulldogs. He spent last season as the Atlanta Falcons’ offensive line coach.

The Falcons offensive line performed well and Hill admits he had fun coaching in the professional ranks, but sources indicate that he is itching to be a college head coach again and his best route may be a return through college.

Enter Nick Saban and Alabama, who just so happens to have a coaching history with Hill and is in need an offensive line coach following Jeff Stoutland’s departure to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Hill has tremendous respect for Saban, dating back to the early 90s when they both coached under Bill Belicheck on the Cleveland Browns’ staff. Saban and Hill were in Cleveland together from 1992-94 with Saban as defensive coordinator and Hill the offensive line and tight ends coach.

Just after Stoutland left for Philadelphia, Saban reached out to Arkansas offensive line coach Sam Pittman but was rebuffed. Sources indicate that he’s also spoken to Hill and that a deal could be currently in the works.

If nothing happens with Alabama, USC may also be a possibility. Speculation is rampant that USC is in the market for an offensive line coach, with current Trojan offensive line coach James Cregg being reassigned to tight ends coach or let go entirely.

Lane Kiffin recently tried to hire Oregon State offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh but was turned down.

Like Saban, Kiffin also has a history with Hill. Kiffin served as a GA on Hill’s staff at Fresno State in 1997-98, and hosted Hill during his first spring practice as the Trojans’ coach in 2010.

Hill recently told the Fresno Bee that he enjoyed his season in Atlanta and away from the limelight.

“I had a lot of fun, and I didn’t have to talk to the media once,” he said with a laugh.

“I’ll be here for another season, for sure.”

That was before the Alabama or USC job openings were known. Could a job the caliber of Alabama or USC be enough to change his mind?

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