Coaching Carousel Spinning Out Of Control

In the upcoming issue of Fightin' Gators Magazine I detail how the recruiting calendar is dictating the coaching hiring and firing process in college football. The activities at Florida, Notre Dame, Ole Miss and others have reinforced my position that a change in the calendar is needed for coaching decisions to be made under appropriate circumstances.

Every fan of the Gators, Fightin Irish, Fightin Illini, Huskies, Rebels and so on really needs to do his/herself a favor and RELAX. I believe Florida will have a coach by December 10th, and I am convinced it will be Bob Stoops, Urban Meyer, Jeff Tedford or Bobby Petrino. I can tell you that in my view, any of the four would be a great hire.

So go ahead; rank them in some order. Add your wildcard choice if it makes you happy; say Butch Davis, Dan Hawkins, Mike Leach or Rick Neuheisel. Then pour yourself a few of your favorite beverages and wait and see. My e-mails this week have gotten increasingly desperate with "all caps" and exclamation points all over the place as if Florida is on the edge of having to choose between Ray Goff and Bill Curry.

Fab Four All Come With Plusses and Minuses

BOB STOOPS----- Former Gator Defensive Coordinator is the perfect candidate. Young, dynamic, proven successful, knows the state, can handle the media and has the "aura". He should and will be called. Only minus is the extraordinary amount of money, perhaps as much as $ 4 million a year it will take to get him. It borders on the obscene.

URBAN MEYER-----He just turned forty and has a 38-and-8 record at two schools not used to winning. Experience at Notre Dame and Ohio State prepares him for "big school" atmosphere. Offense has been derided as gimmicky… but it's a lot like Florida's with more option plays. He won't cost a fortune, but is unproven in terms of signing, developing and graduating players since he has had just a pair of two-year stints.

JEFF TEDFORD----- Cal Coach has an unreal track record with quarterbacks as an assistant and head coach. His offense is exciting and aggressive and his defenses have improved each year. They clearly outplayed Southern Cal this year after beating the Trojan in '03. Only negative is he has never worked in this part of the country. Thus, keeping several assistants would be a high priority as a result. Reports that he's not interested because of geography are completely untrue.

BOBBY PETRINO-----Louisville Head Man gives you just about everything with his offense, personality and familiarity recruiting the state of Florida. Two major minuses are his dalliance with Auburn last year although indications are he was lied to be Auburn officials and what I have heard termed a massive buyout (as much as $ 2 mill.)

So there you have it. Pick a coach, any coach… any coach on that list that is.

Willingham And Cutcliffe

I grew up a Notre Dame fan, one of what they called the "subway alums" in New York City. Shoot, the sisters at St. Nicholas of Tolentine had us praying for the Irish every Friday in the fall. I don't like Notre Dame's firing of Tyrone Willingham, even though I consider him to be a mediocre coach. I believe schools and their coaches should live up to their contractual obligations and nobody will convince me otherwise. Willingham is a good man of apparently great integrity and character. Yet in ten years at Notre Dame and Stanford he's won 65 games. After an 8-and-0 start, he lost 15 of his last 28 at Notre Dame. The team wasn't showing any signs of improvement as evidenced by three consecutive 31-point losses to U-S-C. Look for Willingham to be hired quickly, probably at Washington. And look for Washington to have 6-and-5 and 7-and-4 seasons into the future.

Did you notice when you woke up this morning that Ole Miss had morphed into a power in college football? Me neither! The firing of David Cutcliffe now gets top billing on my list of bad moves for college football 2004. The man had five straight winning seasons… AT OLE MISS !!!

Even after a 4-and-7 season in which they never found a quarterback, Cutcliffe had a 44-and-29 record… AT OLE MISS !!!

Who on earth does Ole Miss think can do better in Oxford? My guess is; my BET is whoever gets that job won't win more games, won't go to more bowls and won't last six years.

Comings and Goings

Here are some random thoughts on upcoming/ongoing coaching situations.

Ron Zook is likely to get the Illinois job next week. He will offer jobs to most of his UF staff if not all of it, but will have to wait to see if any of them get to stay in Gainesville.

Larry Fedora can have the Clemson offensive coordinator job or join Zook in the Midwest. He might get a chance to stay here. He'll get a call or two for a head coaching position, but my advice would be to be very selective.

Charley Strong and Joe Wickline should be on the Ole Miss short list. But first the Rebels will make fantasy calls to guys who already have better jobs.

John Thompson will return to his old job as Arkansas Defensive Coordinator. Jerry Odom will land on his feet somewhere but not as a coordinator.

Indiana reaches into the Mac for Miami's Terry Hoeppner or Tom Amstutz from Toledo. Ole Miss ends up with Bobby Pruett from Marshall and the Herd follows their previous pattern by giving Fedora a shot. East Carolina makes South Carolina DB Coach Ron Cooper the third black head coach in division one. Stanford gets the zen-like Dan Hawkins from Boise State.

Bob Stoops will stay at Oklahoma, Urban Meyer follows his heart to South Bend and Jeff Tedford is the next coach of the Florida Gators.

Those are PREDICTIONS, not guarantees.

Have a great weekend!!

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