The SEC in flux: Four teams could be seeking new coaches

Could we soon see the SEC return of the uneasy rider? (AP photo)

Could the SEC soon see the return of the uneasy rider Bobby Petrino? (AP photo)

The mighty SEC could see a 29 percent change in coaches before November is done. Joker Phillips has already been told he’s out at Kentucky, and Arkansas is conducting a search even as interim John L. Smith lobbies to stay. (Good luck there. Smith inherited a Top 10 team and has gone 4-6. He has also declared bankruptcy, which may be why he needs the job.) And two of the league’s flagships — Auburn and Tennessee — figure to be holding we’ve-decided-to-go-in-different-direction press conferences soon.

Gene Chizik won a BCS title in 2010. In 2012 his Auburn Tigers have gone 0-7 in league play and have lost 63-21 to Texas A&M and 38-0 to Georgia at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Matt Scalici of Al.com reports that Chizik is telling recruits he will be back next season, but what’s a coach supposed to say?

After Tennessee lost to Missouri 51-48 in overtime Saturday to fall to 0-6 in SEC play, rumors swirled that Derek Dooley had been fired. Those weren’t accurate, but he did meet with athletic director Dave Hart Jr. on Sunday, which can’t be a good sign. As much as Tennessee might like to keep Dooley, there’s no getting past his career SEC record: It’s 4-18, the victories coming against Ole Miss, Kentucky and Vanderbilt (twice).

It would be a major upset if either Chizik or Dooley returns, and that would leave the biggest of all football conferences in serious flux. Going alphabetically, here’s a look at what at what could transpire.

ARKANSAS: This is only one of the four jobs for which Bobby Petrino isn’t apt to campaign, given that he just got fired after wrecking both his motorcycle and his career. Gary Patterson of TCU was identified as the frontrunner — he called such rumors “unfounded” — by CoachingSearch.com. It’s believed that Tommy Tuberville, who has already coached two of the seven programs in the SEC West (Ole Miss and Auburn), would have interest. But Tuberville’s candidacy for this or any other job might have been compromised: He was caught yanking the headset off a graduate assistant and has since been reprimanded by the Big 12.

X-factor: Charlie Strong, whose Louisville Cardinals are 9-1, has a sterling SEC history (defensive coordinator at South Carolina and Florida) and Arkansas ties (born in Batesville, played at Central Arkansas), but his name hasn’t been circulating the way Patterson’s has. Maybe it’s because Tom Jurich, the Louisville AD, told Gregg Doyel of CBS Sports he’ll make Strong the highest-paid coach in the land if that’s what it takes to keep him.

AUBURN: Writing for Mr. SEC.com, John Pennington has tabbed Petrino and Jimbo Fisher of Florida State as the leaders in the clubhouse for a job that hasn’t officially come open. (Not that such a thing has ever bothered Petrino.) Fisher made noise this week by complaining that the BCS system, which ranks his once-beaten Seminoles behind three two-loss SEC teams, “stinks.” He also asked: “How retarded is that?” He later apologized for what he called “a poor choice of words.”

X-factor: There has been  speculation that Jay Jacobs, the AD who hired Chizik and who handed him a massive raise after Auburn won it all, would be sacked along with his coach. (Kevin Scarbinsky of the Birmingham News has advocated as much.) But 247Sports reported that school president Jay Gogue has told board members he plans to keep Jacobs.

KENTUCKY: The least of the four jobs, and the hardest to handicap. Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports reported the Wildcats aren’t considering Petrino, which seems surprising. For all his foibles, the man can coach, and his father told Adam Himmeslbach of the Louisville Courier-Journal that his son “is interested” in Kentucky. Sonny Dykes, who was a grad assistant in Lexington under Hal Mumme and whose Louisiana Tech Bulldogs are 9-1 and ranked 20th in the BCS standings, is seen as a possibility, but it’s not clear if the Wildcats will pay the going rate to hire a Hot Name. (They pay big in basketball, as we know.)

X-factor: Forde also mentioned Dirk Koetter, who’s the Falcons’ offensive coordinator, as a possibility. Koetter hasn’t worked in college since being fired at Arizona State after the 2006 season, but he was the coach who put Boise State on the football map. And Mitch Barnhart, the Kentucky AD, had a history of tapping a man with Northwest roots who last worked for the Falcons: In 2002 Barnhart hired Rich Brooks, once Oregon’s coach and later Dan Reeves’ defensive coordinator here, and Brooks led Kentucky to four consecutive bowls before retiring.

TENNESSEE: There has been a goofy cyber push for Jon Gruden, but it’s easier to see the ESPN analyst coaching the Philadelphia Eagles next season. Tuberville figures to be in play, and maybe Petrino. Both Pennington of Mr. SEC and Knoxville blogger Tony Basilio mention Miami coach Al Golden, whose Hurricanes are trying to hold off Georgia Tech in the ACC Coastal, and former Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio.

X-factor: He’s bright, he’s brash and he has won more SEC games in two seasons than Dooley has in three. Trouble is, James Franklin has done his winning at Vanderbilt, which Tennessee barely deigns to acknowledge. Franklin is clearly bound for big things at a bigger programVandySports.com reported he spurned an overture from North Carolina State — but for the Big Orange? That’d be like Georgia hiring Paul Johnson.

By Mark Bradley

269 comments Add your comment

Chi Town

November 15th, 2012
3:09 pm

1st

Respect, Saban.

Mark Bradley

November 15th, 2012
3:09 pm

Uggh

November 15th, 2012
3:20 pm

I assume CMR will join this list after we get throttled in the Dome and end up in Tampa again for the steak bowl? Next year, right?

GeoffDawg

November 15th, 2012
3:21 pm

Somewhat surprised that Kirby Smart’s name isn’t being bandied about more for these openings.

misterwax

November 15th, 2012
3:27 pm

and the merry-go-round kicks it into high gear…. don’t fall off or you will never catch up!

Slick

November 15th, 2012
3:28 pm

I never tire of that picture.

Lanier Spots

November 15th, 2012
3:29 pm

I am going to come out and say it right now – James Franklin needs to be the Head Coach of my Auburn Tigers next season! I am done with Chiz, he was a flash in the pan that has burnt out dimly. Franklin has put Richt and Grantham in their place and would do the same with Saban & Miles.

Woe Eagle!

Uggh

November 15th, 2012
3:31 pm

I still laugh out loud at the Petrino road rash. Think ABlank sent Christmans bonuses to the Dept. of Transpo up in Arkansas?

Jason Scott

November 15th, 2012
3:31 pm

Mark – here is an updated picture of my new favorite for Auburn head coach, a familiar face, WDE! – http://i.imgur.com/9Q2sJ.jpg

Mark May

November 15th, 2012
3:34 pm

Here are my projected coaching hires across the SEC landscape:
Kentucky – Charlie Strong
Auburn – Shawn Watson
Tennessee – Bobby Petrino
Arkansas – Kirby Smart

Book it, bet your mortgage on it, these will be the deals that go down!

GeoffDawg

November 15th, 2012
3:35 pm

48-3 is really putting them in their place Lanier. Which place did you have in mind?

GeoffDawg

November 15th, 2012
3:37 pm

After the Kiffin debacle, I really can’t see UT taking a risk on someone like Petrino. I could be wrong but can you imagine the carnage in and around Knoxville if Petrino pulled another Falcons, late night escape on them? They’d be burning more than just mattresses in the streets.

dagnabit

November 15th, 2012
3:38 pm

CMR can be had after the suicide fit pitched after Alabama stomps Georgia. What’s that? What fit? Why the fit pitched by Georgia fans of course.

What?

November 15th, 2012
3:41 pm

Lanier….What? What place would that be for Richt and Grantham? Oh yeah…as the winners in the game. Go away sir, for you have no clue… Franklin’s lucky those officers got in Grantham’s way 2 years ago or he would’ve been a greasy spot on the grass

Roll Tide Roll

November 15th, 2012
3:41 pm

I cannot contain my laughter at these ALLBARN fans, I spit Strawberry Yoo-Hoo all over y Acer desktop keyboard. There ain’t no way James Franklin ends up in Opelika, he’s too smart for that.

I do have to admit, Jason your picture you posted was hilarious, I don’t care who you are!

Roll Tide Roll, bring on the puppies in the GA Dome! Bama 72, Barn 0 – Mark Rickt may have called off the Dawgs against the Barners when it was 38-0 but Governor Nick certainly won’t! NO MERCY! RTR!

George

November 15th, 2012
3:42 pm

I simply can’t imagine any school (at least in the south) hiring Petrino. He needs to go home and sit down, assuming his sore arse is healed.

Destin Dawg

November 15th, 2012
3:44 pm

Richt is 2 out of 3 vs. Saban in the SEC’… look for another beat down in SEC Champs game !!!!!

madddawg

November 15th, 2012
3:45 pm

Bobo has been mentioned by msny UGA fans as a candidate for the UT position….Or AU or UK or ARKY

Goldenrod

November 15th, 2012
3:45 pm

After Nov 24th, UGag will be looking for a new head coach too after the hurtin’ that Sheriff Paul Johnson is going to put on the leghumpers! Last tiem we played a noon game at the Cesspool Up North (aka Paul Johnson’s house) we won going away, 45-42!

THWG, I’ve got a feeling that Georgia Southern is gonna pulverize them and tender them up for the Jackets to exploit them to the tune of 51-34.

tom

November 15th, 2012
3:46 pm

Mark, I think you forgot Georgia.

Lanier Sports

November 15th, 2012
3:47 pm

If Jacobs does indeed hire Shane Watson I am DONE with Auburn football – DONE I tell you! Needs to give Van Gorder & Martinez a second chance, we looked good against LSU!

Joe

November 15th, 2012
3:48 pm

GeoffDawg

November 15th, 2012
3:21 pm
Somewhat surprised that Kirby Smart’s name isn’t being bandied about more for these openings.

really???? Surprised????? That’s because everyone knows that Nick is the force behind the Bama defense….NOT kirby

Destin Dawg

November 15th, 2012
3:48 pm

Kirby Smart.. not ready for Prime Time… he’s just been Saban’s cheer leader !!

GT

November 15th, 2012
3:48 pm

Auburn interviewed Patterson before hiring Chizik. What happened there that put Chizik ahead of Patterson? What happen there that got Tuberville fired and Chizik hired? I am thinking a smart coach would be afraid of the intrusion of the board of trustees. Petrino may be so disparate he would take it, but I can’t see Jimbo jumping into this fire.

And if Patterson wouldn’t take the Auburn job would he take the Arkansas job? I am thinking the Auburn gig is a step up. I see Dykes taking the Arkansas job.

Kentucky may take the head coach at Georgia Southern. They haven’t got much talent nor will they get much there. If Jeff Monken does well in the national tournament and Paul Johnson sneaks into the Orange Bowl with the same offense, Kentucky should think of this kind of coach, to make lemonade with. I see Petrino going to Tennessee where his kinds of skills are appreciated.

smartie

November 15th, 2012
3:49 pm

lanier? franklin put richt and grantham in there place??? how’s that? was it that 48-3 thrashing they took this year??? that’s how he did it??? moron!

smartie

November 15th, 2012
3:51 pm

and yor tigers? 38-0 baby! behind whipping!

Hey Goldenrod

November 15th, 2012
3:53 pm

You do realize Coach Richt is 10-1 vs. your maggots don’t you? My math tells me that’s a .909 winning percentage. You know what happens if you subtract .3 from that and multiply it by 1,000? You Get 6:09. Convert that into hours/minutes and you get 6:09 which is 51 to 7, the most famous beatdown of tech in the Mark Richt era! Put that in your Texas Instruments Scientific Calculator and smoke it! Richt OWNS the wreck! WE RUN THIS STATE and don’t you ever forget it!

jefe in marietta

November 15th, 2012
3:53 pm

To Mark May, why would Charlie Strong go to Kentucky. He has a much better chance of getting to a BCS bowl with Louisville than KY. He might make it to Auburn or Arkansas though.

Goldenrod

November 15th, 2012
3:57 pm

This year is different, Vad Lee is THE answer and the Jackets are contention for a BCS birth – all we have to do is beat little old Duke this weekend and then wait for Miami to forego bowl play. We are then locked into the ACC Championship where we will destroy Clemson.

Yes, I see Helen Hunt lost one game vs the Jackets – do you remember the score? 45-42 as we ran all over the Cesspool Up North. That’s exactly what is going to happen on Nov 24th, when Coach Paul Johnson will Run This State!

Commit to the G

November 15th, 2012
3:59 pm

Not surprising, the techie fan base (both of ‘em) are starting to show up and troll the SEC East Back-to-Back Champion Georgia Bulldog fans on this board.

I’ve got 3 words for you maggots – MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE

JB

November 15th, 2012
4:05 pm

Kirby Smart has seen his opportunity of rumor disappear to come home with Richt’s what appears to be a 21 -3 regular season record for last year and this one. How long will He wait for the 5 year 14 million dollar contract and being his own boss, and at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. Petrino would/should land someone. Lord, that vice is glorified in the Democratic party. Bedding down a young girl that works for you. Ask Clinton. Tuberville rumors are everywhere about him at Tennessee, but I don’t think so. And Kentucky? People with resumes don’t go there. You go there to make one.

DDooley

November 15th, 2012
4:06 pm

I’m not UT fan, nor a Dooley fan. I just don’t
get dumping him after the mess he inherited.
Don’t forget that he’s dismissed many of the thugs
he inherited as players, the cupboard
was beyond bare, AND he had no recruiting
class his first year as he got hired after
signing day. At least let him have an entire
roster of his own recruits…but as I said,
I don’t wear Hunter orange clothing
to games.
Go Dogs.

Skeptic

November 15th, 2012
4:06 pm

Goldenrod

Man, that sure is some sunshine-pumpin. I’m a Tech, too, but I don’t think I could throw out that much bait in a trolling pass.

JB

November 15th, 2012
4:07 pm

s/b Petrino lands somewhere…LOL…. He’s already landed on someone.

smartie

November 15th, 2012
4:07 pm

MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE!!! AHHHHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! THAT’S FUNNY!!! AHHHHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Anchor Down

November 15th, 2012
4:08 pm

Sorry Auburn fans (and VERY sorry you are) there is NO way James Franklin is heading to coach the Tigers/War Eagles/Plainsment of Opelika.

P.S. We’re gonna beat the Vols this weekend and drive the final nail in Dooley’s coffin!

Bama Buck Slayer

November 15th, 2012
4:12 pm

OH WOW! A Vandy fan, yes a Vandy fan putting down Auburn! That shows you just how far the cheaters have fallen without sCam Newton! Roll Dayum Tide!

robodawg

November 15th, 2012
4:13 pm

Gary Patterson would be a great pick at any school, but I thought I’d heard that for personal reasons he’s not interested in leaving TCU?

Charlie Strong would be a great hire by any school.

Mark May

November 15th, 2012
4:14 pm

Yes, Patterson is staying put with the Horny Frogs.

Charlie Strong is headed to Lexington, his plane will be landing there 10 minutes after the Wildcats beat the Vols.

DinoE

November 15th, 2012
4:15 pm

best job–tennessee, worst job—UK. Petrino has too much baggage right now, or auburn or UT would hire him. He’ll end up at UK, which is desperate to get someone good. After winning 8-9 at UK one year, bobby will head to a big time gig. Arkansas will get c. strong, who will win 7-8 games / year.

JB

November 15th, 2012
4:15 pm

I called the Dooley shot last year. They are way past waiting up there. They have been bad for 5 years or more now. It is a proud program. I hope they don’t dig a deeper hole. If I”m a big name thinking about going there, the contract will have to be 7 years at 4 mil to keep from being “Dooleyied”.

fish fry

November 15th, 2012
4:19 pm

GT rises from the ashes.

Dr Lou

November 15th, 2012
4:20 pm

The National Championship in Miami will feature my Notre Fame Fighting Irish vs.the second-best offensive team in the country, the Oregon Ducks.

The nation, and especially me, are tired of seeing the SEC win it all six years in a row. It’s time for a change. Irish win the Crystal.

Skeptic

November 15th, 2012
4:20 pm

As a transplant to Arkie (yeah, I’m one of those, too) I like Strong but I feel we need some good recruiting ties to the Texas pipeline, and I don’t think he has that.

Local press commentary says that it will be Gundy (OSU) or Briles (Baylor). Of course, what does the press know?

collegeballfan

November 15th, 2012
4:21 pm

Tennessee had better be careful. Fire Derek Dooley and his momma might just take Knoxville apart nail by nail.

Why do techies...

November 15th, 2012
4:22 pm

Always proclaim that jerk of a turkey-neck Paul Johnson as “the new sheriff in town”? He’s staring down the face of yet another 6-6 season at tech, which of course is par for the course for them whereas for SEC schools that will get you fired.

Dawgs Run This State, looking forward to 11 out of 12 in the Richt era!

JP

November 15th, 2012
4:22 pm

One of Arkansas, Tennessee, or Auburn makes a run at Nebraska’s Bo Pelini. Book it.

Jack

November 15th, 2012
4:24 pm

How could any respectable SEC program consider hiring a man who broke University rules and likely U.S. labor law to hire his unqualified mistress over many qualified candidates, thereby leaving the University exposed legally? Add to that the prurient details, his classless bailing on the Falcons job and the jet in Auburn. If this man coaches again, I don’t see how in a sane word it could be as an SEC head coach. Can someone explain how this would make sense? It would be a PR disaster/nightmare.

Nativebird

November 15th, 2012
4:26 pm

Petrino for my Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets! A “real” offensive genius that actually coaches pretty solid defenses as well. Paul Johnson can get his dream job back and go back to high school and be happy again.

Tammy

November 15th, 2012
4:27 pm

Pawwwwlll, why does my Auburn team struggle each and every Saturday? I refuse to lose to that probation-laden Alabama!!! Coach Chizik is so cute and I just LOVE Van Gorder’s mustache, that really turns me on! I don’t know why everybody is overlooking Auburn! When Auburn beats Alabama I am going to come back on here and tell y’all who the true SECWest elite team is! War Eagle!