Done deal, Billy Liucci is reporting Sherman is out at A&M and that Kevin Sumlin, Charlie Strong, and Kirby Smart are leading candidates.
Good Wednesday morning to you all. We’ll start today’s rumor-mongering where we left off last night — in Starkville.
* While Dan Mullen has come out and denied a Jackson, Mississippi television report saying that he is close to signing a deal with Penn State, the coach has technically said nothing to dispel the rumor. (The station, however, backed off its story… and now they’ll look pretty silly if he does wind up in Happy Valley.) He’s said he’s happy at MSU. He’s joked that his name comes up everywhere, every year. He’s said that he doesn’t talk about specific jobs other his current one.
He did not say that he has no interest in the Penn State job. He did not say that he will definitely be back in Starkville next year. The Jackson Clarion-Ledger reports that Mullen will attend the National Football Foundation meetings in New York on Monday… a get-together where lots of ADs meet with lots of coaches.
The MSU-centric blog ForWhomTheCowbellTolls.com isn’t losing any sleep over the Penn State talk. “Unless something further develops, don’t worry about the Penn State rumors,” CB Mosley writes today. “I believe Dan is happy, and quite comfortable, right where he is.”
A few Bulldog backers are upset that the media keeps connecting their coach to different jobs, but they might want to start emailing Mullen instead of me. All he has to say is: “I’m not leaving. See you at the bowl game.” Until he does, expect the Penn State talk to continue.
Here’s today’s wrap on the situation from The Philadelphia Inquirer.
We spoke with someone close to the MSU situation last night and were told that “there’s probably been some contact,” between Mullen’s camp and Penn State, but the general feeling is that nothing’s heated up yet.
* “Up North” of Mullen, the Ole Miss search committee — led by Archie Manning — met with the Rebel football team yesterday. “We are determining their next leader, so we felt it was important that the players are as involved and as comfortable with the process as possible,” Manning said. Good move. Kudos to ex-player for keeping the players in mind. Usually they hear news via Twitter like everyone else.
In terms of the Rebels’ search, Louisiana-Lafayette’s Mark Hudspeth withdrew his name from consideration yesterday suggesting that his MSU ties had tainted him for Ole Miss.
Kirby Smart became a hot topic when Nick Saban heartily endorsed his defensive coordinator for any job that might come open. Saban said no one has asked him to speak with Smart yet. However, others are reporting that Smart and Ole Miss officials have already met. The UM fan site RedCupRebellion.com even tweeted:
“A source close to the Cup has informed us that Alabama DC Kirby Smart is to be hired as the OM head coach. Announcement later this week.”
But now the site is backtracking a tad saying, “We’re just passing along what we’ve heard (from people we trust) with the caveat and understanding that nothing is set in any sort of stone.”
Meanwhile, we continue to hear the Larry Fedora of Southern Miss — who we believe would make the most sense by far — and Hugh Freeze of Arkansas State are the actual leaders for the Rebel job.
The big question: After so many recent failures, can Ole Miss really afford to turn over the worst job (currently) in the SEC West to a man with no head coaching experience? If we were running the show, it’d be Fedora (who already knows the lay of the land in the state) followed by Sonny Dykes of Louisiana Tech (if it’s offense the Rebels’ want…) and Freeze.
* In the Music City, it was reported early this week by the Nashville-based site OutkickTheCoverage.com that Vanderbilt and James Franklin had reached an agreement on a contract extension and a raise. The Tennessean then reported that the school and the coach were working on a deal.
Well now Franklin’s name is popping up in connection to the vacant head coaching positions at North Carolina and Penn State. Franklin is a Pennsylvania native which explains the PSU connection.
North Carolina might be a bit more realistic. Franklin has served two stints in the ACC at Maryland. And UNC’s search appears to be wide open with Fedora also being tossed around as a candidate.
* Auburn’s Gus Malzahn was once believed to be ticketed to Chapel Hill — his wife even got caught following multiple Twitter feeds from that city — but his name has cooled. Having a bottom-half of the pack offense doesn’t look good on the resume of an offensive genius.
Not only is Malzahn’s name cooling at UNC, but it really never heated up at Ole Miss. For those reasons, AuburnUndercover.com reports: “offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn has told people close to him that he expects to return to Auburn for his fourth season in 2012.”
* New member Texas A&M might have a new coach when they join the SEC after all. After giving Mike Sherman a vote of confidence last week — prior to the Aggies’ loss to Texas — A&M president R. Bowen Loftin backed off that position yesterday — after the Aggies’ loss to Texas.
AggieSports.com quotes Loftin as saying: “I’ve been talking to (athletic director) Bill Byrne for the last couple of weeks. We’re thinking hard about (the season and the future).”
He also said that “the athletic director evaluates coaches after every season,” and that “there is no timetable on when a decision will be made.”
A&M will be moving to a new conference next season so the easy way through a transition year might be to hang on to the current staff. But the Aggies’ recruiting class is already filled (25 commits on the board), so making a change now might not hurt A&M’s recruiting very much.
More than likely, Sherman’s 25-25 four-year record in College Station and Thanksgiving’s come-from-ahead loss to Texas have led some major Aggie boosters to put away their checkbooks. Athletic departments run on money and even a president who’s publicly backed a coach knows that to be true. Thus the wavering from Loftin.
* Three SEC names have been connected to Urban Meyer’s new Ohio State staff to this point: Florida linebacker coach DJ Durkin, Florida strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti, and LSU offensive coordinator Greg Studrawa.