College football’s coaching change season currently has five open FBS jobs, with plenty of others to join soon. Here’s what to know about candidates and potential candidates at four schools after Week 10.
Two candidates have emerged from the pack: UCF head coach Scott Frost and Oregon head coach Willie Taggart.
Oregon’s recent three-game skid hasn’t seemed to hurt Taggart’s buzz, likely because decision makers aren’t focused on a Year 1 rebuild involving multiple key injuries.
Florida is unofficially communicating with potential candidates about possibly retaining particular staff members for recruiting reasons, including defensive coordinator and current interim head coach Randy Shannon.
2. Ole Miss
Ole Miss has been vetting a long list of candidates in recent weeks, namely USF head coach Charlie Strong, Memphis head coach Mike Norvell, and UTSA head coach Frank Wilson. Athletic director Ross Bjork is hoping to make a hire quietly and to have a replacement for Hugh Freeze and interim head coach Matt Luke in place immediately following the Egg Bowl.
- Strong spent 1990 as an Ole Miss assistant and has spent nearly his entire career in current SEC states.
- Wilson’s stock is very high, partly for his recruiting acumen. As an assistant for Ed Orgeron, he helped build the Rebels’ 2008 and ‘09 Cotton Bowl teams with a host of Louisiana talent, and he has two former Ole Miss players on his staff in San Antonio. He led the Roadrunners to their first-ever bowl in 2016 and is on the verge of a second.
- Norvell has become a favorite of Memphis-area boosters. Ole Miss believes Arkansas will consider Norvell if the Razorbacks move on from Bret Bielema.
A separate faction of Ole Miss boosters has pushed for SMU head coach Chad Morris and Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. Despite the variety of suggestions, multiple sources indicate it’s Bjork’s call.
With Week 10’s win over Southern Miss, Butch Jones’ job security is technically alive, albeit on life support. The message inside the program is that UT needs to win out and keep its recruiting class intact through December’s early signing period.
At other schools, coaches and agents are treating Tennessee like an open job. Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen is the most frequently discussed name (that isn’t Jon Gruden). Multiple coaching sources confirm Mullen would “fit” with new athletic director John Currie.
4. Georgia Southern
The debate in Statesboro centers around moving the Eagles back to a traditional triple option or further away. Athletic director Tom Kleinlein will be assisted by a search committee that includes former players and current board members. If Southern wants to replicate the Paul Johnson/Jeff Monken years, look for Army offensive coordinator and Georgia native Brent Davis to emerge. The Black Knights are 7-2.
Penn State defensive coordinator Brent Pry, a former GS assistant, has previously interviewed for the job but is a long shot now.
Georgia running backs coach Dell McGee was Southern’s interim head coach after Willie Fritz took the Tulane job. McGee is very popular among Southern boosters.