Round & Round: NCAA Football Coaching Carousel Update

Paul FulwilerCorrespondent INovember 13, 2008

We’re heading toward crunch time now for the schools who decided to axe their head coaches in mid-season. 

As the recruits start to make up their minds, it’s going to be more difficult to choose a school without a leader.  Here’s the update for this week.


1. Washington

Head Coach Tyrone Willingham is still at the helm. And is still winless on the season. The Huskies have landed just five recruits thus far, none of whom deserve significant mention.

This time last year they had 13 recruits locked up, including two 4-star lineman. This is where I see the search to replace Ty:


Wil Muschamp (Texas DC): I think that due to the fact that Woodward (UW AD) has ties to LSU and Nick Saban, Muschamp's old boss, this still seems like where they want to go. Will it be the best hire? He has no connection to the west coast, no head coaching experience, and his Texas team currently ranks 60th in the nation in total defense.

Pat Hill (Fresno State HC): His name keeps popping up everywhere. It seems obvious he wants the job. Do they want him? He has a 90-59 record with the Bulldogs (5-4 in 2008), but just one conference championship, tying for the WAC title in 1999. If he lands it, does it mean they settled?

Kyle Whittingham (Utah HC): He claims to want the job. Urban Meyer was able to make the transition from going undefeated at Utah to a National Title at Florida. Could the folks on Montlake be thinking the same might happen for them? I think they would take any sort of winning season at this point. The 48-year-old has a long history with the Utes but appears willing to go for much bigger things at Washington.

Others: (more lukewarm than hot)

Lane Kiffin (former Raiders HC), Brent Venables (Oklahoma DC), Dave Christensen (Missouri OC, former Husky), Bobby Hauck (Montana HC), Brian Kelly (Cincinnati HC), Steve Sarkisian (USC OC), DeWayne Walker (UCLA DC)


Jim Mora (Seahawks Asst.): Has indicated that he plans to remain with the Seahawks, and take over as Head Coach when Mike Holmgren exits in 2009. However, I don’t think the Huskies have given up going after a man who claimed this was his dream job, and basically lost his Falcons gig for saying so.

Gary Pinkel (Missouri HC): Don James’ former OC has a good thing going in Missouri and it would be highly unlikely if UW was able to pull him away from that. In fact, James himself has said he would be surprised.

Chris Petersen (Boise St. HC): Still can’t figure out why he isn’t being talked about more. He is in the midst of his second undefeated season in Boise and and a possible second BCS Bowl (in just three years). Is the Oregon-connection (WR coach for the Ducks from 1995-2000) too much for the Husky faithful?


I think it comes down to Muschamp, if he wants it, Whittingham, if they like him, or they settle on Pat Hill.

If they’re smart (and given the last few hires you have to wonder) they make a run at Peterson, perhaps give Brian Kelly an interview, and if need be settle on either Kiffin or Sarkisian.

If they feel they can still salvage this recruiting season then Kiffin is available right now (unless someone else nabs him first).

2. Clemson

Tommy Bowden is out, but could another Tommy be moving in? Rumors are flying that Auburn HC Tommy Tuberville could be joining the Tigers.

He is obviously still with the Tigers and would either need to be fired (which some have speculated might follow a potential loss to rival Alabama) or buy out his contract. Not sure how likely that is, but here’s where I see it:


Brent Venables (Oklahoma DC):  The Clemson plane touched down in Oklahoma and Bob Stoops’ right-hand man was given one of the two official interviews for the job. He’s young (37), but has been quite successful running the Sooner defense since 1999.

Lane Kiffin (former Raiders HC): Apparently has received the other of the two official interviews. If they need someone today, he’s ready to report to work, complete with a stellar recruiting resume and NFL head coaching experience.

Bud Foster (Virginia Tech DC): Appears eager for the post and Clemson appears willing to listen. He is likely to get the third interview following Virginia Tech’s Thursday night tilt with Miami.

Others: (more lukewarm than hot)

Wil Muschamp (Texas DC), Brian Kelly (Cincinnati HC), Kevin Wilson (Oklahoma OC)


Mike Gundy (Oklahoma State HC): No mention anywhere regarding the Cowboy coach. Given the current situation, it seemed a stretch to begin with.

Bobby Johnson (Vandy HC): The former Clemson player seemed the obvious choice.  He had Vandy at 5-0 and nationally ranked. What happened? Four straight losses happened.

Dabo Swinney (Interim Clemson HC): He could be the odd man out as Clemson appears to be focusing on bringing in some fresh blood.


I think Venables and Kiffin end up elsewhere and the surprise pick could be Foster. They would have to wait until the Hokies' season is over, but recruiting is going fairly well, and if they made a quick decision it could hold off any de-commits.


3. Tennessee

Phil Fulmer's old job appears to be the big prize thus far. Recruiting had been going very well; however, with some potential de-commits the Vols may be getting a bit anxious about filling their vacancy. As of now, it’s looking like: 


Mike Leach (Texas Tech HC): There seems to be some hope in Vol country that they can pry Leach away from the Red Raiders. The offensive genius could get a nice pay raise, but he may like where he’s at.

Butch Davis (North Carolina HC): It appears that the Tennessee folks are not giving up, despite his remarks that he was staying in Carolina. Obviously, all coaches have to say that, but it feels like Butch means it. We’ll see.

Lane Kiffin (former Raiders HC): His name is everywhere. And Tennessee wouldn’t mind him coming in right now, shoring up recruiting, and potentially bringing in his father, Monte Kiffin (Tampa Bay DC), to help shore up the Vol D.

Others: (more lukewarm than hot)

Wil Muschamp (Texas DC), Brian Kelly (Cincinnati HC),  Tim Brewster (Minnesota HC), Jim Grobe (Wake Forest HC), Chris Petersen (Boise St. HC)


David Cutcliffe (Duke HC): Claims not to want the gig. Found it hard to believe at first, and that was when Duke was at 4-3. After back-to-back losses, we’ll see.

Ron Zook (Illinois HC): Absolutely no talk regarding the former Florida HC and Vol assistant.

Steve Spurrier (South Carolina HC): Grew up a Tennessee fan but appears content to finish off his Hall of Fame career with the Gamecocks.


I think Leach and Davis will be able to use the attention for a little increase in salary, and perhaps some needed facility upgrades, leaving Kiffin the odds-on favorite. 


4. Kansas State

After Ron Prince’s somewhat surprise ousting, it appears that K-State may need to mend some fences.  Does that mean they bring in a former assistant?  Or perhaps a former legendary coach?


Gary Patterson (TCU HC): It appears that if he wants the job, the former Wildcat, can have it.  Does he?

Brent Venables (Oklahoma DC): Another former Wildcat. He's young but could be just what the Wildcats need, to win back the fan base as well as recruits.

Bill Snyder (former KSU HC): That’s right. His 136-68-1 record at K-State is starting to bring back fond memories for Wildcat fans. He’s 69. Would he take the job?  Is it what they need to compete with Oklahoma, Texas, or even Kansas and Nebraska?

Others: (more lukewarm than hot)

Todd Graham (Tulsa HC), Turner Gill (Buffalo HC), Mark Stoops (Arizona DC), Butch Jones (Central Michigan HC)


Dennis Franchione (former Texas A&M HC): The former K-State assistant, who was let go just a year ago from A&M, hasn’t been getting much play. Could he be their out card should other things fall through?


My sense is that Patterson will either stay at TCU or leave for even greener pastures and that while Snyder sounds like an intriguing idea, I can only see them bringing him in as some sort of mentor for a young coach. And that’s where Venables comes in. I think it’s his, unless better offers come his way.