#DearAndy: Which coaches will be in line for top-tier jobs next season?
It’s never too early to speculate on a coaching carousel that won’t start until November. So let’s do it today. But first, here’s what we cover in the video:
• Should the Group of Five stage its own playoff?
• Should SEC defenses go smaller and faster to face spread offenses out of conference?
• What am I giving up for Lent?
Read on for more questions and answers…
From @tricerapops: What’s the short list of coaches, who—provided they have a good 2015—will be elevated into consideration for top positions?
Some of these guys were under consideration for other jobs this past offseason, but they’ll be in demand again come November if their teams have decent seasons.
• Justin Fuente, Memphis head coach: Considering where the program was when Fuente took over, this past year’s 10-3 finish and share of the American Athletic Conference title is a miracle. Coaches who can make that much chicken salad out of that much chicken something-else tend to succeed at the Power Five level as well.
• Bryan Harsin, Boise State head coach: Harsin kept the train rolling in Boise following the departure of Chris Petersen. If he wants to jump to the Power Five, opportunities will be there.
• Matt Wells, Utah State head coach: Wells is 19-9 since succeeding Gary Andersen, and the NCAA’s decision to grant Aggies quarterback Chuckie Keeton another year of eligibility means Utah State should be in the hunt for the Mountain West title.
• P.J. Fleck, Western Michigan head coach: The Broncos were 1-11 in Fleck’s first season. They were 8-5 in his second, and he just landed the MAC’s highest ranked recruiting class. If this keeps up, Fleck will row the boat into a pile of cash at some brand-name school.
• Matt Campbell, Toledo head coach: The 35-year-old Campbell has had two nine-win seasons in his three years at the helm in Toledo. If he has the Rockets competing for a MAC title this fall, larger programs could come knocking.
• Joey Jones, South Alabama head coach: The degree of difficulty at such a young program is high, but the Jaguars have steadily improved under Jones even if the jumps in levels of competitions have made their record not necessarily reflective of that. If South Alabama were to win the Sun Belt, bigger programs in the South would take a long look at the former Alabama receiver.
• Brent Venables, Clemson defensive coordinator: That Venables hasn’t been considered for more head coaching jobs remains somewhat of a mystery. He was excellent at Oklahoma, and he has been excellent at Clemson. Last season, the Tigers were the stingiest in the nation in yards allowed per play (4.03). If Venables’ unit can come close to that after a total defensive line rebuild in 2015, then it’s probably time he got a chance to run his own program. The only issue might be athletic directors’ unwillingness to consider defensive coordinators for head coaching jobs after some recent flameouts. So Venables should root for Pat Narduzzi’s Pittsburgh team to win the ACC Coastal Division to give the ex-DCs a little more credibility.
• Rhett Lashlee, Auburn offensive coordinator: Like Harsin with Petersen, we won’t know how much of Lashlee’s success is due to a brilliant head coach who used to hold the same job until the apprentice gets to run his own show. Lashlee is young (31), but he has been running Gus Malzahn’s offense since high school. Lashlee also seems wise beyond his years when it comes to the non-football aspects of the job. He’ll blow away an athletic director in an interview.
From @ChuckGamble1968: Gamecock fans have been a little concerned during this offseason with recruiting and players leaving. Are we right to worry?
We always joke about what might happen if a coach gave an honest assessment of his recruiting class. Well, Steve Spurrier did. And everyone freaked out. “A lot of these guys were from far away who had a good visit, but that’s life,” Spurrier said at his National Signing Day press conference. “We picked up some guys who may be better players. Who knows? One leaves, one comes. It happens everywhere.”
If all coaches told the truth on Signing Day, some form of this quote would have been uttered at about 100 schools earlier this month. But most coaches don’t say what’s on their minds on Signing Day. They talk about the excellent group of high-character young men they just signed who will save carloads of drowning puppies and also win four consecutive national titles.
But Spurrier doesn’t have it in him to BS effectively. It would be easy to assume this lack of concern for appearances is a byproduct of his age (69), but Spurrier has always been this way. This is not a criticism. This is a great personality trait, even if it does occasionally offend.
But now Spurrier’s honesty is being used against him on the recruiting trail, which has resulted in less than glowing quotes about the signing class. (Because Spurrier doesn’t BS well.)
In reference to his future, Spurrier told The (Columbia, S.C.) State on Dec. 1 to “give me two or three more” years. In the next two weeks, four players previously committed to the Gamecocks reopened their recruitments. This is because coaches never say what Spurrier said. They always say they plan to coach at least four or five more seasons because recruits want to know if the coach they’re planning to sign with plans to retire before they finish at the school. This also is why coaches’ agents insist to athletic directors that the coach’s contract run for the next five years at any given time.
Apparently, recruits and their parents believe coaches won’t leave or get fired despite a mountain of historical evidence to the contrary. In mid-December, Spurrier reversed course and said he planned to stick around longer. “Yeah, you’re right,” Spurrier told The State. “You need to always go under the four-to-five, you really do.”
Spurrier’s penchant for speaking his mind has served him well throughout the years, but it is causing him problems now. The only solution, as always, is to win a bunch of games. Then he can say whatever he wants.
From @bcj79: Describe your perfect fusion restaurant.
I’ve mentioned this a few times before, but it would be a Cuban barbecue restaurant. I haven’t quite figured out brisket ropa vieja, but the mashup of the Cuban sandwich and the pulled pork sandwich would be a monster. Replace the roast pork in a Cubano with 16-hour smoked pulled pork, and replace the ham with back bacon. Pile that on Cuban bread with cheese, mustard and a pickle. Then press it. Put mac and cheese, Moro rice, and sweet plantains (maduros) on the side. Thank me later.
From @JonathanWaldrop: Do you liken the beagle’s win at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show to that of your favorite team's conference winning the national championship?
Did I run around the house chanting H-O-U-N-D like an Ole Miss fan chanting S-E-C after Alabama won a national title? No, sir, I did not. Until Westminster eliminates its blatant anti-basset hound bias, that competition is dead to me.