The 12/12/13 Coach List

Yesterday was by all accounts a day of inquiries. Coaches or their reps calling AState hoping to get an interview, with Terry Mohajir sending out his inquiries to those on his initial list. It was also a day of other obligations with the GoDaddy Bowl that likely limited some of the action.

Today's ground rules. We are hearing names but still nothing so firm that any of us are ready to declare them a bona fide candidate. The names today are sorted out into probable groupings with the order in each grouping random rather than ranked.

The Obvious List
Philip Montgomery. Co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Baylor. Had the same role at Houston under Briles. Prior to that served as an assistant at several Texas high schools. Played at Tarleton State. Briles has squelched the Redskins rumors about as aggressively as any head coach does. With Baylor preparing for its first BCS berth Briles may pull his name for anything happening prior to January 1. Montgomery may be ready to test the waters.

Mike Norvell. Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Arizona State. His career intersected Malzahn at Tulsa so he has been involved in the concepts. Throwing out their FCS game, AzSt averaged 39.8 points per game and two of their three losses were against Stanford. Was with Todd Graham at Tulsa and Pitt before going to Arizona State. Played at UCA and was a GA there. Wife is from Fort Smith. Do a Google search "High octane Norvell" think you will like what you see.

Rhett Lashlee. Arkansas native, he also came to AState with Malzahn but did spend one year as OC at FCS Samford in Birmingham. He returned to Auburn with Malzahn. Age is going to be a knock but his state ties and knowledge of the program will have him considered.

Neal Brown. QB coach and offensive coordinator at Kentucky. At Texas Tech 2010-12 and Troy 2008-09 in the same roles. Played at Kentucky. With past Sun Belt success his name is going to pop up. Troy has faded since he left but that has more to do with the collapse of the Troy defense.

Obvious Names But Probably Not Front-Runners
Dan Werner, Co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Ole Miss. Has served as a quarterback coach at several schools including Miami. At age 52 or so he would not fit the model of young rising coach despite an excellent pedigree of developing quality quarterbacks.

Chad Morris. Spent 16 years as a head coach at the high school level in Texas at five different schools. Was hired at Tulsa as offensive coordinator for the 2010 season then left to go to Clemson where he currently serves as offensive coordinator. Reportedly the highest paid assistant in FBS. Nothing to base this on, but not feeling it. Like what he does on offense but just strikes me as the guy who expects to walk-in and be anointed at a name school. Also unlike most of the list, he isn't a guy who often goes into games facing equal or better talent.

Scott Frost. Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Oregon. Frost played six years in the NFL after being the starting QB for the 1997 national champion Cornhuskers after transferring from Stanford. Served as wide receivers coach at Oregon from 2009 until being promoted to offensive coordinator this year. Like Morris, I'm not feeling it. Just not enough of a southern connection to make think he would be interested.

Josh Heupel. Offensive coordinator at Oklahoma. Heupel was the quarterback for the pounding AState took from OU in 2000. The Sooners have been quite successful in his time but if you read some of interviews it may give you some pause to see comments that he shifts philosophy from game to game or even down to down. An open mind is good but when you want to make a splash by winning games that are upsets, not having an engrained mindset in the players seems counter-productive. Like Morris and Frost, rarely has to coach against equal or better talent.

Not So Obvious
Kurt Roper. Offensive coordinator at Duke. He has followed Cutcliffe from Tennessee to Ole Miss, to Tennessee and now Duke. Amazingly well balanced offense 63rd in the nation in passing and 60th in rushing. Watching them against Florida State they were woefully out-gunned physically, yet half their wins came against teams .500 or better.

Mike Bobo. Offensive coordinator and QB coach at Georgia. With an injury-laden team, the Bulldogs still finished 16th in the nation in passing and 21st in scoring. He has been the quarterbacks coach since 2001 and added offensive coordinator duties in 2006 and the Bulldogs have had a successful offense most of those years. He has sent three QB's to the NFL most notably Matthew Stafford. That's a long time to be an SEC OC without moving home. He may be content at his alma mater. Nephew of former AState coach John Bobo.

Probably Considered But Long-Shots
Eliah Drinkwitz. Offensive coordinator and running backs coach at Arkansas State. Hired at AState by Gus Malzahn. Offensive GA at Auburn when Malzahn was offensive coordinator. Assistant coach at Alma and Springdale high schools, from Alma. AState fans liked what they saw when he took over play calling duty this year, but given his age and limited FBS experience probably won't get the nod.

John Thompson. Defensive coordinator for the Red Wolves. Served as interim for AState's GoDaddy Bowl win and filling that role again this year. Considering the criteria Terry Mohajir laid out last year, it seems unlikely that we will change course and go with a defensive hire.

Will Be Mentioned But Seem Unlikely.
Eddie Gran. Offensive coordinator at Cincinnati. The Bearcats were effective under his guidance but remember Terry Mohajir was at FAU before Kansas, the Owls reportedly considered Gran and passed, odds are whatever gave them pause will also give him pause.

Ed Orgeron. Formerly head coach at Ole Miss, served as interim head coach. Orgeron is a career defensive guy who took over a mess at Ole Miss and recruited the talent that gave Houston Nutt two good seasons. Had a nice interim stint at USC but he does not fit the apparent model AState is looking at.

Four Arkansas Names In-State Media Will Toss and AState Won't Try To Catch
Clint Conque. Head coach at Central Arkansas. While the Arkansas media is entranced by his success with the Bears his limited FBS time and the fact it was quite a few years ago makes him an unlikely candidate.

Scott Maxfield. Henderson State. Has been very successful in Arkadelphia but it would be very unlikely AState would lift a Division II coach to the top slot.

Kevin Kelly. Head coach at Pulaski Academy. Yeah he's nationally known for his exciting no punt offense but AState won't elevate at high school coach to the head coach position. Rumor mill indicates he wants to be a college head coach without doing time as a college assistant as Malzahn and Freeze did.

Houston Nutt. Out of coaching. The lack of grasp out there was best demonstrated when a satire site claimed he was heading to AState and Bruce Feldman of CBS called Nutt to check it out. Nutt thankfully declared no interest in the position.