College football’s silly season is upon us – and it got just a tiny bit sillier Tuesday night, with the news that Mark Helfrich is out at Oregon. With his departure, that now leaves eight total vacancies available on the college football market.
After interviewing Fleck earlier this year, my big takeaway was that he wouldn’t be the right fit at every school with an opening this fall. One of the most interesting things he said during that interview was that one of the biggest reasons he has succeeded at Western Michigan, is “the administration has let me, be me.” That’s also why I don’t think he was a candidate at LSU or Texas, nor would he have been a good fit. Would either of those administratively challenged, overly political schools really have let Fleck be himself? Nope.
That’s also why I think Oregon would be the perfect place for Fleck: Tucked in the Pacific Northwest, it isn’t Austin or Baton Rouge (or Columbus or Tallahassee for that matter). It’s a place where Fleck would be left alone (relatively speaking) and not be under the microscope in a major market, or at a school with major booster or administrative presence.
And if he is allowed to be himself there, Fleck will thrive. Remember, this is a guy who has taken Western Michigan from 1-11 his first year to 12-0 and on the brink of a New Year’s Six bowl now. He’s one of the best recruiters in college football. Basically, there’s only one call to make for Oregon, and it’s to Fleck. The good news is, they appear to be listening.
Houston: Lane Kiffin, Alabama offensive coordinator
Think of Houston as “the cool school” of the non-Power 5, the place that has ramped up its facilities and recruiting, thanks to the energy of a young, dynamic, offensive-minded coach in Tom Herman. I’m not sure if Kiffin is “dynamic” like Herman; few are. But he will certainly bring that offensive mentality to H-Town.
It’s also why he makes perfect sense at this school. Paired with former Texas A&M quarterback Kyle Allen (who sat out this year as a transfer) the two could pick up right where Herman left off, putting up points, kicking you-know-what, and taking names in the AAC. Plus, with Kiffin – a dogged recruiter – in charge, the talent level wouldn’t drop at all.
If Houston wants to keep the positive momentum going, Kiffin should be its guy.
Purdue: Les Miles, former LSU head coach
Poor Purdue hasn’t had an identity since Joe Tiller left a decade ago. Heck, forget “identity” the Boilermakers haven’t given their fans a reason to be excited in the last decade. And at the least, that’s what Miles would bring: Excitement to the program. At least relative to the other candidates being talked about, which include former Jaguars offensive coordinator Greg Olson (who has already interviewed for the job).
At the same time, Miles also would have a chance to win, too. He’s a Big Ten guy with Midwest roots, and thanks to his time at LSU, you think he’d be able to bring players from the South up North to play for him as well. Plus, even though Miles claims to have evolved offensively, if he does default to old-school, smash-mouth approach that got him in trouble at LSU, well, wouldn’t it work in the Big Ten West?
Speaking of the Big Ten West, with teams like Minnesota, Illinois and Northwestern on the schedule every year, you mean to me Miles couldn’t get Purdue to a Big Ten championship game every few years?
Getty ImagesStacy Revere
Baylor: Mike Singletary, former San Francisco 49ers head coach and Baylor alum
Considering that Singletary isn’t showing up on any coaching search lists, this one seems like a stretch. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad option. Quite the contrary; the former Baylor linebacker is the single, best candidate on the market for the Bears.
At this point the Baylor job isn’t so much about football as it is cleaning up the cesspool left behind by Art Briles. Who better to do that than a man who is known for his high character and loves his school? Plus, while many look at recruiting as a potential issue, remember that he has an NFL background as both a player and coach, something that a friend who covers football in Texas told me “Would make parents drool.”
Florida Atlantic: Randy Shannon, Florida linebackers coach
As mentioned Tuesday, I’m a big believer that if the Owls want to compete going forward, they need a guy with extensive Florida recruiting ties. Mark Richt, Jimbo Fisher, Jim McElwain and Willie Taggart are going to get the top players in the area, and with Butch Davis now at Florida International, he’s going to pick up guys who fall through the cracks. You need someone who knows the area, and knows where to find quality players.
So who better than Shannon? He’s from Miami, and spent most of his career in South Florida, serving as both an assistant with the Hurricanes and Dolphins for years, before getting the full-time Miami gig for four seasons. He would immediately bring cache with local high school coaches, recruits and their parents, something Florida Atlantic desperately needs.
San Jose State: Tee Martin, USC offensive coordinator
Take the same things I wrote about Shannon, change “South Florida” to “California” and you’ve got my logic behind Tee Martin. San Jose State is one of the toughest jobs in the country, and a place that isn’t easy to attract players to. Therefore, you need someone dynamic selling the school to local high school and junior college players.
So who better than Martin, who has led some of the best classes in the country the last few years, and was even named “Recruiter of the Year” by 24/7 Sports a season ago. Also, his actual on the field coaching isn’t bad either, as his offense has scored 35 or more points in five of the Trojans last six games.
Initially I would have said Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker here, but all reports seem to indicate that the job wouldn’t offer enough money for him to give up a gig at a Power 5 school. So instead, why not stay in the SEC and go with another, proven coordinator, who is younger and might take the job?
Meet Lashlee, the man behind Auburn’s (relative) resurgence this year, as the Tigers have averaged almost 44 points per game since Lashlee he took over play-calling duties from Gus Malzahn in Week 4. Plus, he should be plenty familiar with the Georgia recruiting scene, after spending the last four years at Auburn, which is under a two-hour drive from Atlanta.