What We've Heard: Coaching Search

Now that Larry Porter has been relieved of his duties at the University of Memphis, the undivided attention of the athletic department shifts to finding his replacements. The process is in its infancy stages, obviously, but Memphis is going to act swiftly to name a replacement. Here are potential candidates to replace Porter.

Now that Larry Porter has been relieved of his duties at the University of Memphis, the undivided attention of the athletic department shifts to finding his replacements.

The process is in its infancy stages, obviously, but Memphis is going to act swiftly to name a replacement. Here are potential candidates to replace Porter.

Hugh Freeze. Freeze, who has turned around the fortunes of Arkansas State, will likely be at the top of Memphis' list. He has the Red Wolves receiving votes in the AP poll, and Arkansas State's offense is among the best in the country. He's from Memphis and knows the area as well as anyone. He coached at Briarcrest High School. Freeze could also stand to make a significant raise if he made the jump to a larger program.

Mike Leach. It's no secret that Leach is looking desperately for work. He has entertained overtures from Tulane and Memphis, even for all its struggles and shortfalls, is a better job. If Memphis shows a commitment to its football program — which it has with the decision to fire Porter — Leach would probably consider taking the reins for the football program.

Mark Mangino. The former Kansas coach will be an interesting name to watch throughout the Memphis coaching search. While his exit from Kansas was all but graceful, his impact on the program is unmistakable. He won several Coach of the Year honors and led the Jayhawks to a BCS bowl in 2008 for the first time in program history. Mangino brings baggage, but he would be a great hire for the Memphis program, which is in desperate need of new energy.

Ron Zook. Zook was fired at Illinois today after a 6-6 season and could be looking for work. Memphis will almost certainly inquire about the former Florida and Fighting Illini coach. Zook could be looking for work at a place where expectations aren't as high, and Memphis is the perfect place. He could win in Conference USA and, with his NFL experience, would have no issues on the recruiting front.

Mark Hudspeth. True enough, Hudspeth may be in the mix at Ole Miss for its opening, but he should definitely be a candidate Memphis takes a look at. Before taking over at Louisiana-Lafayette, Hudspeth was a successful coach at the D2 level. He was also a receivers coach under Dan Mullen at Mississippi State, so he's familiar with the Mid-South area.

Houston Nutt. While we think it's a long shot, Houston Nutt's name has come up in the discussion about Memphis football. He was recently fired at Ole Miss after a 2-10 season. Before taking over at Ole Miss, Nutt was the head coach at Arkansas. One reason for Nutt possibly being considered is his understanding of the area and its fertile recruiting grounds.

Terry Bowden. The son of Florida State coaching legend Bobby Bowden, Terry Bowden wanted the job the last time around before the athletic department opted to go in a different direction with Porter. He's had measured success at D2 school North Alabama and has plenty of experience at the FBS level. He coached at Auburn from 1993-1998, leading them to an undefeated season in his first year at the school.

Tommy Bowden. The brother of Terry, Tommy hasn't coached since 2008. He could be getting the itch to return to the fraternity and Memphis would be a prime landing spot for the former Clemson coach.

Chad Morris. Morris, the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Clemson, is an intriguing name. He has been responsible for one of the most explosive offenses in the nation, and he knows C-USA very well as he spent 2010 as the associate coach at Tulsa. Morris coached G.J. Kinne of Tulsa and Colt McCoy at Texas and could be the offensive mind that Memphis has lacked for years.

John L. Smith. Smith, who is now at Arkansas as an assistant, was turned down for an interview during the last coaching search. If he's still interested, it could be a nice fit, as Smith was responsible for turning around the Louisville football program in the late 1990s. He has a track record of extensive success and could be a nice hire for the Memphis program.

Jerry Gray. Gray was one of the two final candidates for the job in 2009. He has ties to Fred Smith and Memphis could look his way again. Now the defensive coordinator for the NFL's Tennessee Titans, Gray wouldn't have to move very far and may embrace the challenge of turning around the Tigers program.

Vic Koenning. Koenning was on Zook's staff at Illinois, which was just relieved of its duties this weekend. Koenning has very blatant Memphis ties, as he started his coaching career at Memphis state in 1986 as a graduate assistant and strength coach. He spent 10 years at the school before moving on. If Zook doesn't take the job himself, Koenning could be a very intriguing name to watch.


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