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Let’s Re-look Auburn’s Coaching Short List… Shall We?

By on December 2nd, 2012 in Football 11 Comments »

As you know Auburn is currently looking for its next coach as Chizik and his family decides to use their windfall from Jay Jacobs’s clearly questionable business savvy. Who might it be?

I thought it would be nice to re-list the names and see how the candidates have fared so far or to describe who they would face in the bowl game.

Coaches list:

1) Bobby Petrino: This 51 year old is still getting the buzz. And interestingly Charles Barkley is advocating him heavily.

Bobby is currently unemployed. Here is a listing of his resume: head coach at Arkansas (2008-2012), Atlanta Falcons (2007), Louisville (2003-06), assistant at Auburn (2002), Jacksonville Jaguars (1999-2001), Louisville (1998), Utah State (1995-98), Nevada (1994), Arizona State (1992-93), Idaho (1989-91), Weber State (1987-88), Carroll College (1985-86).

His current record as a head coach is 75–26 (college) and 3–10 (NFL). His bowl record is 4–3

Current position: Petrino’s position is unchanged. But in a recent AL.COM poll 53% of all AU fans said hiring Petrino would be a bad idea. How can he overcome the obstacles? It’s obvious he isn’t a good recruiter. Can he bring the big names to the Plains? Unfortunately that remains unclear. Best guess… his stock is going to start dropping soon when the decision makers start peeling back the skin.

2) Bo Pelini: The 44 year old Nebraska head coach rolled into

The Big Ten championship game with a 10-2 record with losses to UCLA and Ohio State. The loss to UCLA was respectable… but the loss to Ohio State was a blow out. This brings me to the big ten championship game…. Nebraska lost to a 7-5 Wisconsin team 70-31.

What does this say about Pelini? One thing for certain… I would have hated to see him play Ohio State or Penn State. Can you imagine that score? Nebraska fans can’t be happy… what could that mean if he came to Auburn?

Here is a listing of Bo’s resume: 2008- Head coach at Nebraska. Assistant Coaching Experience: 2005-07, LSU, defensive coordinator, 2004, Oklahoma, co-defensive coordinator, defensive backs, 2003, Nebraska, defensive coordinator, interim head coach for Alamo Bowl, 2000-02, Green Bay Packers, linebackers, 1997-99, New England Patriots, linebackers, 1994-96, San Francisco 49ers, assistant secondary, 1993, Cardinal Mooney High School, quarterbacks, 1991, Iowa, graduate assistant.

Considering they lost the championship game… it’s unclear where Nebraska ends up.

His current record is: 49–18 with a bowl record of 3–2.

Current position:  After his team’s disappointing performance in the big ten championship… I see Pelini’s stock starting to drop. Heck, it might even drop for him just keeping his job at Nebraska.

3) Gary Patterson: The 52 year old TCU head coach rolled in to the last game of his regular season with a 7-4 record. His losses were against Iowa State, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, and Kansas State. TCU didn’t look competitive in the losses to Iowa State or Oklahoma State. In his last game he played Oklahoma. TCU lost to Oklahoma 24-17.

We all know that TCU had some off field issues this year that came to light at the beginning of the season. Considering the school, I think this effort is legitimate. Here is a listing of his resume: head coach at Texas Christian (2000-), assistant at TCU (1998-99), New Mexico (1996-98), Navy (1995), Utah State (1992-94), Sonoma State (1989-91), Pittsburg State (1988), Cal Lutheran (1987), UC Davis (1986), Tennessee Tech (1983-84). His current record as a head coach is 116–35 and bowl record is 7–4.

It’s unclear where TCU will fall out in the bowl schedule.

Current position: His name is getting a lot of buzz in some circles.  I see him, even with the latest loss and record, being considered by Auburn.

4) Kirby Smart: Out of the top four “potential” candidates… this 37 year old has never served as a head coach. His resume looks like this: assistant coach at Alabama (2007-), Miami Dolphins (2006), Georgia (2005), LSU (2004), Florida State (2002-03), Valdosta State (2000-01)

I watched the game last night. Probably everyone else did as well. His defense looked good. But it wasn’t stifling like the 2011 or 2009 team. But it was still good enough to win against a decent UGA team.

Bama will be playing for the NC against Notre Dame. Kind of fitting if you think about it.

Current position:  I’d say its rising.  If we hear nothing about a coaching hire until the NC game… then I see AU targeting Smart.  The rumor I am hearing is that his agent is Pat Dye’s son. Yes, some would say this is a PR hit for AU, but to those people I’d say 49-0 is pretty bad in its own right.

5) Charlie Strong: This 52 year old coach is no stranger to the SEC. While he is currently serving in the big east, he has gotten his school to be admitted into the ACC. That is a coup for Louisville. While he got a late start as a head coach, no one can contest that he didn’t turn around the cardinals.

The cardinals are currently 10-2. The losses came to a blowout loss to Syracuse and a much closer contest to Connecticut.

Strong’s resume: head coach at Louisville (2010-), assistant at Florida (2002-09), South Carolina (1999-2001), Notre Dame (1995-98), Florida (1991-94), Ole Miss (1990), Florida (1988-89), Southern Illinois (1986-87). He has a 24-15 record as a head coach, and a 1-2 bowl record.

It is unclear at this point where the Cardinals will play… but it should be in a BCS bowl.

Current position: After a bit of miscommunication caused by the media coverage, rumor is Strong is very much in the mix.  I wouldn’t count this out until the fat lady finally sings.

6) Jimbo Fisher: This 47 year old is no stranger to Auburn. Although rumor is that Tennessee is looking hard at Fisher it is clear that Auburn’s gaze has cooled somewhat. Yesterday FSU won the ACC… a feat that isn’t as impressive as it used to be. The Seminoles are currently 11-2. FSU’s losses came to NC State and Florida.

Here is Jimbo’s resume: head coach at Florida State (2010-), assistant at Florida State (2007-09), LSU (2000-06), Cincinnati (1999), Auburn (1993-98), Samford (1991-92)

His coaching record is currently 30-10 and 2-0 bowl games.

FSU will be playing in a BCS bowl game.

Current position:  Fisher would be a great hire.  But it’s pretty clear he is entrenched at FSU.  Still, I know in some of the articles I have read it is indicated that UT is trying to snag him.  Personally, I don’t think he is going to so easily give up on FSU considering his investment in the program. I think he is going to parlay any discussion with another school into a pay raise with him and FSU.

Other coaching potentials:

Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State. The 1990 Oklahoma State graduate (and former starting quarterback) he’s 66-34 in his eight seasons with the Cowboys. He need some time to get things going, but went 23-3 during the past two seasons – including a trip to the 2011 Fiesta Bowl. His last three OSU offenses have ranked no lower than fifth among NCAA programs in total offense. He’s been discussed in connection with the Arkansas job and Auburn’s search firm identified him as a potential target. It’s unclear how Auburn’s advances have been received.

This season, Ok State is 7-4. In his last game OK State got beaten by Baylor.

Current record is 66-35. 4-2 in bowl games.

It’s still not clear where Ok State will play its bowl game.

Current position:  We know AU is looking into his availability.  But that is about it.  Remember that T. Boone Pickens is former alumnus of the Cowboys.  I doubt anyone will be moving him anywhere. We don’t have the cash reserves necessary…

Chris Petersen, Boise State. His winning percentage (91.1) put him in the elite category; no other Bowl Subdivision coach can match it. The Broncos are in the midst of a disappointing 10-2 season. That’s how expectations work at Boise State these days. Petersen is an offensive guru and his teams generally finish among the top 15 in those categories. It’s interesting, though, that BSU’s defenses always are among the best as well. Petersen has discussed in connection with almost every vacancy of the past three years. Like Gundy, he’s also in the mix at Arkansas. Auburn has reached out.

This season, again, Boise State is 10-2. In his last game BSU beat Nevada.

Current record is 83-8. He is 4-2 in bowl games.

It’s still not clear where BSU will play its bowl game.

Current position:  If I had a dark horse candidate – this guy would be it.  I know he hasn’t seen the competition of the SEC but I still think if you have the right building blocks – everything else is relative.

Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M. He’s making approximately $2.5 million and this is his first season with the Aggies after a memorable run at University of Houston. His freshman quarterback is a Heisman favorite, his team is excellent and Texas A&M has a ton of money. Auburn has reached out to Sumlin, though even moving into position to talk about its vacancy seems like a long shot.

This season, Texas A&M is 10-2. Losses came to Florida and LSU. But A&M beat bama in Tuscaloosa.

Current record is 45-19 and 1-1 in bowl games.

It’s still not clear where Texas A&M will play its bowl game.

Current position:  He has already moved from UH to Tex A&M.  Another move in the cards? Nah. I don’t think so. I think he is simply going to get a pay raise.

Jim Mora Jr., UCLA. In his first season with the Bruins, Mora took an eight-loss team and turned it into nine-win team. Talk about an abrupt turnaround. He’s had two separate stints as an NFL head coach before the age of 50. Mora clearly knows football. He’s also an unusually fiery guy who demands total control, which may not work well on the Plains. Mora currently earns approximately $2.4 million per season.

Mora’s team was beaten in a much closer championship game with Stanford than in its regular season loss. Current record is 9-4.

It’s not clear where UCLA will play its bowl game.

Current position:  Doubtful.  Considering that Jacobs is still on AU’s payroll… I highly doubt that Mora would come to AU.

David Shaw, Stanford. After serving as Stanford’s offensive coordinator for four seasons from 2007-10, David Shaw was appointed Stanford’s head coach on January 13, 2011, succeeding Jim Harbaugh. Prior to his appointment as offensive coordinator at Stanford, Shaw served as the wide receivers and passing game coordinator at the University of San Diego during the 2006 season, where he helped guide the nation’s top Division I-AA offense that paced the Toreros to the Pioneer League championship and NCAA Division I-AA Mid-Major national title. The Toreros led all NCAA Division I-AA teams in passing offense (293.3 ypg), total offense (494.25) and scoring offense (42.83).

Shaw’s coaching resume also includes nine years of NFL experience with the Philadelphia Eagles (1997), Oakland Raiders (1998-2001) and Baltimore Ravens (2002-05).

Stanford just wrapped up the PAC 12 by beating UCLA for the second time.

Current record: 22-4. He has 1 loss in a bowl game losing to OK State.

Standford will be playing in the Rose bowl against a 8-4 Wisconsin team.

Current position:  Don’t know if this coach is being considered but he should be.  He comes from football pedigree.  I think he could do great things at AU.

In conclusion, Auburn’s chances of landing a great coach are much better this year than four years ago. From that stand point Chizik’s buy out was worth it. Who says a National championship isn’t a good thing?  Perhaps this will lead to greater things for Auburn….

Depending on who Auburn hires I look for the Tigers to be back on the prowl in 2013.

War Eagle!


  1. Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

    Really nice review…it scares me that Pelini is close to the top. I’m not a big fan.

  2. AubTigerman AubTigerman says:

    Good article WDE’88.

    Both timely and informative. I feel like the committee is swinging for the fence. We all hope they hit a home run, but if they don’t land the big fish – I hope the AU Family will circle the wagons around whomever gets the job.. It will be imperative that we do that, “for the Tigers to be back on the prowl in 2013.”

  3. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..Pellini comes off as a nutcase, but he had a good defensive reputation as the LSU DC. At Nebraska, he’s been lit up upon occasion by the Big Ten, the lastest debacle yesterday giving up 70 to Wisconsin. Yeah, we need some fire in the locker room and practice fields. Not sure at all this is the right guy for the job.

    …..Jimbo needed a late interception to stave off Georgia Tech in the ACC title game, and that’s a team Georgia blew away last week.

    …..Mora Jr. did an impressive job with a usually-moribund UCLA squad. Can he recruit the southeast? Same question with Shaw, and even Petersen.

    …..Kirby Smart would have to totally rebuild Auburn’s defense. The only players Auburn has over three hundred pounds are Jeffery Whitaker, Angelo Blackson, and Brian Walsh. Typically all three line starters on a Smart defense weigh 300+, with a nose tackle around 320 or more. None of those guys above is over 310. Then, you’d need four starting linebackers with good size and speed. We’ve got two really green ones on the roster that might fit that style, Cassanova McKinzy and Kris Frost.

    …..Patterson would be a good hire, but not a flashy one. He was Franchione’s defensive coordinator at TCU before the move to Alabama. Patterson took over as head coach when Franchione left after a perfect season.

    …..My preferred candidate is still Gus Malzhan. Latest gossip from AUC is that one of the reasons Malzhan left was that he didn’t like the lack of discipline regarding folks missing workouts and the like. I don’t think he’d run a loose ship, at all. Big question is, what kind of recruiting staff would he put together?

    • Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

      As you might imagine, we see A LOT of Bo Pelini up here…’nutcase’ is apt. Mr. ToTM has some other choice words, which would contain all sorts of ***** in them……he doesn’t believe in his coaching style, and I’ll just leave it at that.

      Excellent points about Mora Jr, Shaw and Petersen. They would have to hire a staff with SEC experience. At the same time, these guys are kings of macgyvering a solid team out of non-4 and-5 star laden rosters. I would rather us go for that ‘gold on the ceiling’ coach vs one with strict SEC experience. If we got any three of those, I would be over the moon happy!

      The more I read about Paterson, the more I like the guy. I can’t be for sure, but I’m fairly positive that when Stoops went to shake his hand after the game that he wished Paterson good luck in the SEC. 🙂

  4. Atmore Tiger Atmore Tiger says:

    The only thing that’s certain is that Jacobs will find a way to screw this up. I’ve come to expect nothing more or less from him and this administration. I have a very bad feeling we’re all going to be disappointed and will continue to live in Alabama’s shadow for the foreseeable future.

  5. rn4au rn4au says:

    Great write up! Thanks so much. I still am swaying back and forth from candidate to candidate. Let’s just say I like a lot of them but am not sold 100% on any of them.

  6. Pine Mt Tiger Pine Mt Tiger says:

    Good stuff. Thanks WDE. I think the one that’s the best fit with the best resume for the job is Fisher but I like all the names one on the list – except one (I voted with the 53%).

  7. DBAU81 says:

    Good article. Malzahn is not on your list. Do you know something the rest of us don’t?

    • wde1988 wde1988 says:

      I think I read about 5 articles. I am amazed that I left out Malzahn. Talk about being brain dead! And to answer your question, no, I don’t. He is not my preferred coach but AU could do much worse. So without further ado:

      7) Gus Malzahn: This 47 year old is also no stranger to Auburn. He served as the offensive coordinator from 2009-2011 under Gene Chizik. He is a major proponent of one of the nation’s most high-profiled run-based variations of the spread offense. He fused elements of standard spread attacks and misdirection rushing attacks into a consolidated scheme during his days as a high-school coach in Arkansas. He brought those ideas to the college scene at Tulsa and later at Auburn, where his offense carried the team to the 2010 national championship by averaging 499 yards per game in 2010.

      As the head coach at ASU Gus Malzahn is currently 9-3 and an apparent winner of the Sunbelt conference at 7-1. Losses come at the hands of Oregon, Nebraska, and WKU.

      A YouTube video featuring his wife, Kristi, caused controversy after going viral last winter. The spectacle cost Malzahn a shot at the North Carolina and Kansas jobs.

      Here is a listing of Gus’s resume: head coach at Arkansas State (2012-), assistant coach at Auburn (2009-11), Tulsa (2007-08), Arkansas (2006), head coach at Springdale High School (2001-05), Shiloh Christian High School (1996-2000), Hughes High School (1992-95).

      It is unclear where ASU will play its bowl game.

      Current position: All issues surrounding his wife aside, I believe Malzahn’s stock will drop simply because he is not in his element. Specifically, Malzahn doesn’t seem to know much about defenses. As a result, I don’t think he could recruit what would be required to survive in the SEC. Additionally, I suspect his defenses would never get the training it would need to thrive in this league unless he got one of the nation’s most premier defensive coordinators. Besides, Malzahn prefers to coach football and isn’t very interested in meeting with boosters, supporters and fans.

      UPDATED Coaching news.
      An interesting update on Vandy’s head coach. This isn’t a surprise.
      This means Vandy is going to attempt to keep James Franklin.
      Here is some more interesting news, I recently heard this:
      Remember, this is the team that knocked out Oklahoma (figuratively speaking) to get into the BCS Orange bowl.

      Additionally, USF fires their coach: Wonder if Lou has any words of wisdom?
      And another team picks up the other Petrino:
      rence at 7-1.

      • DBAU81 says:

        I agree with your assessment of Gus. I loved him as OC but think we desperately need a clean break (or as much of one as we can get, with JJ still around) from the Chizik era.

  8. AU6 AU6 says:

    All these guys look good, except the one that isn’t very good on a Harley. Give me Gus Malzhan, he knows these kids and by keeping Luper and Trooper, adding a good OC and DC we will be back on track. Gus’ offense will run those big old ‘Bama boys ragged and have them sitting out the 2nd half. Gus can give us some fun and he runs a clean program.