Where Would Auburn Turn?
Should Auburn decide to make a coaching change at the end of the season, they’ll need to move fast. The SEC is likely to have its highest turnover at the top in years. It’s widely expected that Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Auburn will be in the market for new leaders.
Throw in Texas and the speculation that Mack Brown is heading out, and you quickly see it’s going to be competitive out there in the coaching market.
Should Gene Chizik depart, where would Auburn turn? Who’s out there? Here are some of the big names that will likely hear their phones ring in the off-season…
Charlie Strong – The last time Auburn tried to lure away a Louisville coach, things didn’t work out so well. Strong has deep SEC roots and has the Cardinals undefeated this season.
Kirby Smart – Would Auburn dare hire away Nick Saban’s top assistant? You bet they would, if they thought he could crack the Saban code. Smart will land a high profile job at season’s end. Auburn could be the place.
Bobby Petrino – In light of his recent motorcycle ride and the ill-fated JetGate incident back in 2003, it seems highly unlikely Auburn would look Petrino’s way. There’s no arguing his success, but there’s no reason to sell your soul to the Devil.
Dana Holgorsen – He’s arguably the hottest name in the country among young coaches. However, after his Saturday beat down at the hands of Tommy Tuberville, the jury remains out on his long-term coaching abilities. It will be interesting to watch how West Virginia does in the Big 12 this year.
James Franklin – It’s not easy being Vanderbilt. James Franklin has done the near impossible, making them competitive in the SEC. This week’s opening line of eight-point favorite over Auburn tells you all you need to know about his success. His enthusiasm would be a welcome shot in the arm at Auburn.
Gary Patterson – Interviewed by Jay Jacobs back in 2008, Patterson has made TCU a consistent winner. Not necessarily a dynamite personality, he does get the most out of his talent.
Jon Gruden – Forget about it. If Gruden does return to college football, it will likely be at Tennessee where he once served as a grad assistant and continues to have ties there today.
Art Briles – Who would have dreamed Baylor would ever be competitive in the Big 12? Was it really Briles who turned Baylor around or was it Robert Griffin III? Does that question sound familiar?
Willie Taggert – Who you ask? He’s the 35 year-old coach of Western Kentucky, who’s caught the eye of more than one program this season. Ask Nick Saban. He’s quietly built one of the top mid-major programs in the country.
Tommy Tuberville – I had to throw this one in there. Remember when the knock on Tuberville was that he didn’t recruit well enough at Auburn? I miss those days when our two and three-star players knocked off some of the top teams in the country each week. It’s funny how perception changes with time.