Mind of Mike: Takeaways from a wild day on the Coaching Carousel
The coaching carousel is in full swing and it’s been a crazy week and weekend when it comes to college football employment news. Rivals.com National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell chimes in with his thoughts on the happenings.
... First off, I wrote last week that Chip Kelly would be a better fit at UCLA than he would at Florida. He has ties to the conference thanks his success at Oregon, the recruiting base is similar at both schools and he will get more control and a longer leash at UCLA than he would at Florida. The Bruins, known as a basketball school forever, pulled off the coaching hire of the season by landing Kelly as I can’t see any other program getting a better hire. He will hire a staff that can recruit, he’ll run that high tempo offense in a conference that is made for it and he will give USC fits. The only question? How long does he want to be at UCLA and will he leap for a bigger job or NFL job after a few years? Aside from that, this is a home run.
... Dan Mullen will be a great fit at Florida with his offensive mind and knowledge of the Gators program. What he’s done in Starkville over nine seasons is nothing short of remarkable and he should be the person to turn things around in Gainesville. I was never sold on Will Muschamp and less sold on Jim McElwain but Mullen has my respect. He’s a tremendous quarterback developer, runs an offense that is hard to defend and he will hire the right defensive coaches. The biggest worry is how he gets along with the powers-that-be at Florida and if he can keep his staff together. The bottom line is that Mullen has had success in the SEC at a tough place to win. The Gators couldn't have asked for a better hire.
... With Mike Riley finally fired, I found it odd his entire staff short of Trent Bray was also let go. But with only nine commitments and apparent confidence that a hire will be made quickly, it may not be a big deal for recruiting. It seems everything is panning out properly for former Huskers star Scott Frost to be the next coach, likely announced after the AAC title game this upcoming weekend. If that happens, Nebraska will have hit a home run. That doesn’t mean that Frost is a lock to take the Huskers back to the Promised Land, but Nebraska will be hiring a hot, young coach who knows the landscape as well as anyone and will run an offense that has a chance to be successful in Lincoln. What Frost has done at UCF is nothing short of remarkable, taking a 0-12 team two years ago to 11-0 this season. The Big Ten West isn’t a loaded division so it’s not a stretch to say Frost could get Nebraska competitive in a few seasons. The bar can’t be set any lower for him and he’s used to that.
... Tennessee whiffed on Jon Gruden as expected and settled on Greg Schiano before a massive fan revolt blew up the Vols' plans. I think that a Schiano hire would have been a disaster at Rocky Top. Yes, he had some success at Rutgers, a dumpster fire before he arrived, but he was still 28-48 in the Big East and his best season led to a berth in the Texas Bowl. Schiano was a colossal failure at Tampa Bay and I think his defense at Ohio State has underachieved as well. I just don’t see that as a great fit and would have been a massive failure for Tennessee athletics director John Currie. The Vols dodged a bullet here.
... Kevin Sumlin would be a nice fit at Arizona State where the path to success is easier than the SEC West but can we really expect him to be more successful with the Sun Devils than he was with Texas A&M? With the Aggies he had a great recruiting territory and the SEC to sell while at Arizona State he will need to go into California and pull talent away from USC, UCLA, Stanford and others. He could try to use his connections in Texas and might land some B-level guys from the Lone Star State but he’s not going to pull stars from there. Is he an upgrade from Todd Graham? Yes. Will he make waves in the Pac-12? Probably not.
... When I mentioned Gus Malzahn as Arkansas' dream hire, I was stunned that there were many vocal Hawgs fans that said they didn’t want him. What are they saying now following wins over Georgia and Alabama and a berth in the SEC title game? Malzahn would likely be under less pressure at Arkansas then he is at Auburn, where he always seems to be on the Hot Seat, but I don’t see any way he leaves The Plains to go home. Winning big at Arkansas with poor recruiting geography and SEC West foes like Alabama, LSU and Auburn is not easy and Gus has had the luxury of recruiting Georgia and Florida as well as Alabama while at Auburn. He wouldn’t have nearly the same success in Fayetteville. Bret Bielema seemed like a good fit for Arkansas with his power running style but it’s clear he should have never left Wisconsin.
... I don’t believe for a second that Texas A&M will hire Jimbo Fisher away from Florida State. Furthermore, I get the feeling that A&M, Tennessee, Ole Miss and Oregon State will all get hires that don’t exactly excite the fan base. Just a hunch.
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