As the college football regular season comes to a close the college coaching carousel starts. Kansas, Louisville, San Jose State, Marshall, Memphis, UNLV, Virginia, Western Kentucky, Akron, Louisiana-Monroe, Florida State, and Notre Dame all have openings.
I would like to weigh-in on this topic and a few select situations.
Florida State (Jimbo Fisher), Memphis (Larry Porter), and Western Kentucky (Willie Taggart) have filled their openings, but the rest of the schools listed above need to find "their guy." The hiring at these schools will create more vacancies and the domino effect will continue.
Turner Gill of Buffalo has Kansas on his radar. The two will meet as soon as soon as this Sunday (December 6th). He has ties to the Big 12, he is a former quarterback for Nebraska. He turned around a Buffalo program and is a tireless recruiter. Kansas could do a lot worse than Gill, who would give the Big 12 another gifted young coach.
Louisville likes Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong enough to make him the leading man to take over the Cardinals. It is only a matter of time until an announcement is made there.
But the big opening is Notre Dame. We are force-fed the rumors about the Irish hiring Bob Stoops of Oklahoma, Phillip Fullmer, Jon Gruden, or Cincinnati head coach Brian Kelly. Notre Dame is under the impression that they are still the preeminent college coaching job in America. It's time they wake up and face the reality that USC, Florida, and Alabama offer more to recruits.
Let me explain. The three afore-mentioned schools offer better weather, and just as much T.V. time as the Irish, something that Notre Dame used to have a monopoly on. Not only that, but the coaches at those schools are the very best recruiters in the nation and have a personality that sells ice to Eskimo's.
The Irish need to hit a home run because of the lack of success they have had despite some very good recruiting classes by Charlie Weis. Kelly seems to be the name most mentioned with the Notre Dame job. He is a person that has the total package as a coach and in the living room. He also is a winner. But my gut feeling is that he will not be the next ND coach. I would keep an eye on Fullmer, the former Tennessee coach.
I would also like to digress a bit and talk about the Florida State situation. Jimbo Fisher was hired to turn around the struggling FSU offense and be Bobby Bowden's replacement when that time came. Bowden is an institution and the for ever the face of Florida St. No matter when it happened it was going to be hard to see Bowden go off into the Florida sunset.
I don't condone how the school handled the whole Bowden "retirement," but I do agree that a change was needed. By "retiring" Bowden leaves a program that has under achieved for the last couple years. But he doesn't leave it empty or void of talent. Fisher recruited (and landed) one of the best high school quarterbacks two years ago in E.J. Manuel. He stepped in for an injured Chris Ponder and helped make the Seminoles eligible for a bowl and allow coach Bowden one final opportunity to be carried off the field.
More NCAA thoughts:
USC had a "bad year." But this was the year that if you had a chance to "pick them off" you better do it now. Pete Carroll has a team returning in 2010 with all kinds of playmakers. Joe McKnight, Stafon Johnson, Ronald Johnson, Blake Ayles, C.J. Gable, Brice Butler, Marc Tyler, Travon Patterson, Curtis McNeal, and Matt Barkley. And those are just the guys in the skill positions on offense. If Damien Williams also returns, look out.
The Trojans also have one of the top recruiting classes (again) and will only add to their already talented roster come February. UCLA and Notre Dame already have had two high-profile players "decommit" and say they are looking to go to USC (amongst other schools). Carroll will not let a repeat of the 2009 season happen in 2010 and he knows it starts with the recruits.
Also, Barkley will be a year wiser and even more familiar with the Trojans offense. He had a great season considering he was/is a true freshman. That said, I fully expect a sophomore season that should catapult him into the 2010 Heisman race.
Tim Tebow is a great person. He is everything a college player should be off the field and a tremendous leader on it. I don't see him being a great pro player, but as a college player, I can see why he may be the greatest ever. I do think, though, that the public (and non-Gator fans) are Tebowed out.
Colt McCoy is the Heisman front-runner and he should be. He has had a great year for the 3rd ranked team in college football playing the toughest position in sports. I also think Mark Ingram, CJ Spiller and Toby Gerhart have a legit shot at winning it should McCoy fall on his face against Nebraska.
Speaking of Gerhart, he said he plans on pursuing a pro baseball career rather than a career in the NFL. I know some team will take a shot on him late "just in case" baseball doesn't work out for him.
Give June Jones credit. He took a team in SMU who had one win in 2008 and led them to 7 wins and a bowl berth (some where). He also turned around a floundering Hawaii programin 1998 and led them to a BCS berth in 2007.
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