In what can only be described as a very calm and positive atmosphere, the Auburn football team had an exceptionally good practice on Wednesday.
Coach Curtis Luper assumed the position vacated by Gus Malzahn, who was off being introduced as the next head coach at Arkansas State.
Coach Malzahn volunteered that his services would remain available at Auburn until after the bowl season. It certainly does not appear the angst many, in the untrained and uninformed media, have speculated about existing on his part.
By all accounts, Coach Curtis Luper handled the practice with relative ease. It has long been known that Luper was being groomed as an option for Auburn for exactly this kind of event.
It appears Coach Luper would be the leading candidate to replace Gus Malzahn if Auburn were to decide to promote from within. He has been working in the Auburn offense under Gus Malzahn for three years.
Prior to coming to Auburn, Coach Luper was the running backs coach in a highly successful Oklahoma State offense from 2005 to 2008. Oklahoma State was ranked seventh nationally in rushing offense to finish the 2008 season.
Should Auburn decide to look outside for a replacement, one name that stands out is Southern Mississippi offensive coordinator Blake Anderson. He has a relationship with Gus Malzahn and runs a similar offensive scheme. Southern Mississippi was ranked 13th nationally in total offense this season and 14th in scoring offense.
At this point, Mark Stoops—who led the Florida State defense from a ranking of 41 in 2010 to national ranking of six in 2011—has emerged as the primary name being mentioned as a replacement for Ted Roof. Coach Gene Chizik has assumed the defensive coordinator role for the bowl season, and there has been no speculation of the possibility of promotion from within.
The only two obstacles that have been mentioned in hiring Stoops have been money and a possible offer for him being a head coach.
It appears that the simple knowledge that he is being considered for the Auburn coordinator position has made him an interesting candidate as a head coach for some lower-tier programs.
Pittsburgh appears to be the primary possibility for Stoops as a head coach. He does not appear to be at the top of their list, but he could get the opportunity if several other names are not receptive to the job. They paid their recently departed head coach somewhere in the neighborhood of $2 million per year.
If one of the head coaching opportunities does not develop for him, it is likely he will be at Auburn next season, as several sources around the Florida State program have speculated that the Seminoles can’t match potential compensation with Auburn.