The list of candidates for LSU's vacant defensive coordinator position is becoming a lot more clear according to a recent report from AL.com. Current Arkansas defensive coordinator Barry Odom is among the list of preferred candidates Matt Zenitz is reporting.
Arkansas was one of the surprise teams out of the SEC this season, winning three SEC games in 2020 after winning just one in the previous three seasons combined.
The improvement was in large part because of the playmaking and improvement shown on the defensive side of the ball. The Razorbacks were tied for second in the conference in interceptions while ranking No. 2 in tackles but did surrender 451 yards per game, No. 9 in the SEC.
Zenitz also reported that the early list of candidates includes Cincinnati defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman, Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard former NFL coach Kris Richard.
Of those three reported names, Freeman is likely the hottest candidate for other coaching positions across the country. Fresh off a 9-2 finish to its season that ended with a respectable 24-21 loss to Georgia in the Peach Bowl, Cincinnati became one of the elite defenses in the country.
Under Freeman's guidance, the Bearcats ranked No. 13 in total defense, allowing 324.6 yards per game, clamping down on opposing offenses on third down as well, allowing just a 34.6 conversion percentage. A number of programs have made head coaching changes already, the most recent being Texas replacing Tom Herman with Steve Sarkisian.
It'll be interesting to see if any other major programs like Florida will be searching for new head coaches that could be possibilities for a hot commodity like Freeman. If not, moving up in the coordinator ranks to a program like LSU could give the Tigers an advantage, though Texas and Sarkisian could certainly be another attractive option if he wants to coach at a program with more resources.
It's already been reported by Brandon Saho of WLWT in Cincinnati that Freeman will interview for the LSU defensive coordinator job this week though his preference is to be a head coach.
Leonhard led Wisconsin to a truly dominant season on defense, ranking No. 6 overall in total defense and allowing just 300 yards per game to opposing offenses.
Over the coming weeks, the decision on a defensive coordinator, offensive coordinator, passing game coordinator, safeties coach and defensive line coach should start to trickle in. With no other major recruits waiting to see what the Tigers do with their coaching staff, Ed Orgeron has time on his side to carefully construct a decision.