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Hot Coaching Rumors with a UW Twist

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Could jobs for Jimmy Lake, Jonathan Smith and Steve Sarkisian be in the offing?

NCAA Football: UCLA at Washington Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Editor’s note: given all of the fast-moving news on coaching terminations and hires, I’m re-posting this piece from Thanksgiving day as an open thread. Let’s talk coaching changes.

Update 11/26, 2:30pm

Here is what we know:

  • Arizona State has fired Todd Graham. Rumored replacements include Kevin Sumlin, Pep Hamilton, Derek Mason and, yes, Jimmy Lake.
  • Kevin Sumlin is now available for ASU because he was just fired at Texas A&M by former UW AD Scott Woodward.
  • Speaking of TAMU, the rumor mill seems to be focused on FSU’s Jimbo Fisher and Utah’s Kyle Whittingham.
  • Now that Chip Kelly has taken over UCLA, Dan Mullen appears to be on the verge of being hired by Florida.
  • Greg Schiano, currently tOSU’s defensive coordinator, appears to be the man soon to take over the Tennessee Volunteers despite desperate howls of protests by the fanbase.
  • We still think Beau Baldwin is going to be the guy for Oregon State.
  • Matt Campbell has emerged as a top candidate for Nebraska. But the move by Mullen to Florida would seem to imply that Scott Frost is now the favorite to return to his alma mater.
  • Nothing coming through on Mike Leach ... but the rumor of him being on the radar of Arkansas continues to bubble.

Original Post 11/23

First: Happy Thanksgiving!

If you have a little time in between your turkey sausage breakfast, your hot turkey sandwich lunch and your tryptophan-laced roast turkey dinner today, you might consider diving into the college coaching rumor mill for a moment.

It’s hotter than a celebrity sex tape at a Dennis Hastert holiday party.

If it feels like the coaching carousel has fired up a little earlier than normal this year, you are not imagining things. The onset of the December early signing period has put more pressure than ever on ADs to get their coaching staffs settled in order to give recruiting classes the best chance to come together for each respective team. Ironically, this puts a premium on accomplished but out of work coaches such as guys like Chip Kelly.

Here are the major jobs that will or may be filled over the next several weeks:

Open Jobs

Oregon State

UCLA

Tennessee

Ole Miss

Florida

Likely to Come Open Jobs

Texas A&M

Nebraska

Arkansas

Texas Tech

May Come Open Depending on Circumstances

Arizona State

Oregon

Florida State

Auburn

So, who is going to get what job? In truth, I have no friggin’ idea. I don’t follow premium fan-boards, I don’t have contacts who socialize with Mark Schlabch, ESPN fired Craig McMurphy and I don’t know how to track passengers on commercial flights.

I suck at a lot of things. Predicting coaching hires is just one of many. If you want to try your hand at it, take a look at this primer from SB Nation and knock yourself out.

That I am not good at it does not mean that I cannot enjoy the speculative process, especially as it relates to the PAC 12 and the Washington Huskies. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the jobs that are open or may come open and what (if any) connections to the PAC 12 or UW they may have.

Oregon State

Rumored Candidates: Bronco Mendenhall (Virginia HC), Alex Grinch (WSU DC), Cory Hall (Interim HC), Jonathan Smith (UW OC), Beau Baldwin (Cal OC)

Gekko’s Prediction: Beau Baldwin

This is the first job that came open and one that has the most connections to UW. Not only is Jonathan Smith, the former OSU star QB, a viable candidate, but the odds of whomever gets hired raiding the cupboards of current PAC 12 staffs in order to fill out its own staff is a strong possibility.

Imagine that Beau Baldwin or Jonathan Smith gets this job. How long will it take for names like Jimmy Lake and Matt Lubick to come up as candidates for coordinator positions? My guess is that it won’t be too long.

UCLA

Rumored Candidates: Chip Kelly, Dino Babers, Kevin Sumlin

Wildcard: Jimmy Lake

Gekko’s Prediction: Chip Kelly

He’s coming back folks. Get ready. Chip Kelly + UCLA talent (including a dual threat QB in Devon Modster) could spell trouble for the PAC ... especially the South division.

Where Kelly goes for a staff remains tot be seen. He has a lot of old time connections, but they are quite old. Could he pluck a Matt Lubick or a Jimmy Lake? Quite possibly.

And, by the way, the notion that anybody can predict Chip Kelly is preposterous. Consider this from clip from the Washington Post.

Florida

Rumored Candidates: Chip Kelly,Scott Frost (UCF HC), Randy Shannon (Interim HC), Mike Norvell (Memphis HC), Matt Campbell (Iowa State HC)

Wild Card: Willie Taggart (Oregon HC)

Gekko’s Prediction: Willie Taggart (just kidding), Scott Frost

Ok, this isn’t as much a prediction as it is a hope. It’s not that Taggart is a huge difference-maker as a coach at Oregon. But he is an effective recruiter who has put together an exceptionally highly ranked 2018 class made up of many east coast recruits. His departure would blow that class up and leave Oregon in the precarious position of having to find a backup coach plan. At that point, we are talking about guys like Jim Leavitt, Jim McIlwain, or a Beau Baldwin.

I do think Scott Frost is going to get hired here. Whether or not that means some UW assistants (Matt Lubick?) might get called remains to be seen.

Texas A&M (not yet open)

Rumored Candidates: Jimbo Fisher (FSU HC), Chad Morris (SMU HC), Bobby Petrino (Louisville HC)

Wild Card: Chris Petersen (just kidding), Steve Sarkisian (Atlanta Falcons OC)

Gekko’s Prediction: Chad Morris

Texas A&M is interesting because the current AD there is the same one who hired both Steve Sarkisian and Chris Petersen at the University of Washington. Scott Woodward has a way of going big and making things happen. TAMU is a well-resourced position in a conference that his basically guaranteed to go to the playoffs every year.

That said, the SEC West isn’t exactly a picnic. Getting a big name guy like a Fisher or Petersen may not be quite as easy as some fans think. It might have to be a guy like a Morris or even a Sark as a first step.

Arkansas (not yet open)

Rumored Candidates: Gus Malzahn

Wild Card: Mike Leach

Gekko’s Prediction: Gus Malzahn

Don’t laugh. Leach is not guaranteed to stay in Pullman, especially now that AD Bill Moos has moved on to Nebraska. In fact, there are a few jobs that could come open where you could see Leach being a candidate: UCF, Ole Miss and Auburn could all fit the mold.

Arizona State (not yet open)

Rumored Candidates: Mike Norvell, Bryan Harsin (Boise State HC), Jonathan Smith, Dave Aranda (LSU DC), Jim Leavitt, Alex Grinch, Chad Morris

Wild Card: Kevin Sumlin

Gekko’s Prediction: Kevin Sumlin

This is one of those jobs where the opening not only depends on the performance of the current coach (Graham) but also the availability of somebody who might do better. I don’t think that it is a lock that Graham is let go if he loses to Arizona this weekend.

However, if Kevin Sumlin becomes available, I could see ASU moving quickly to try to make a swap out.

While a Sumlin-to-ASU scenario isn’t one that is likely to directly touch UW from an assistants standpoint, it is one that both affects recruiting and the long-term competitiveness of another conference rival.

Other Jobs of Interest

Ole Miss

Gekko’s Prediction: Mike Norvell

Watch Mike Leach’s name come up for this one. Willie Taggart might get rumored here as well.

Texas Tech

Gekko’s Prediction: Sonny Dykes

Dykes would be a legacy hire for TTU. Were he to get hired there, he might be able to pluck a few recruits.

Nebraska

Gekko’s Prediction: Kyle Whittingham

Ok, I just put that there to entice you. However, don’t expect AD Bill Moos to NOT make a splashy move. We know that he is more than happy to aim high relative to the perceived attractiveness of the job. He likes experienced guys with track records. Whittingham would be his kind of coach and one that would fit into the Nebraska culture.

I could keep doing this, but there is a bird with my name on it just taunting me with its piquant aromas.

Happy Thanksgiving Dawgs.