Who Will Replace Coach O at LSU?!?!
On Sunday afternoon, news broke that Coach O is out as head football coach at LSU at the end of the season. This is an unprecedented move moving on from a coach just 21 months after a national championship.
LSU Athletic Director Scott Woodward did not hire Coach O and O was not his guy. However he did make two huge hires in Chris Peterson at Washington and Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M. Woodward will undoubtedly be looking to make another big time hire in Baton Rouge.
Let’s take an early look at my top ten candidates.
Jimbo Fisher - Texas A&M
Woodward and Jimbo are close going all the way back to when Jimbo was OC at LSU under Nick Saban in the early 2000s. Woodward already hired him at A&M too. I still have a hard time seeing Jimbo leave the Aggies with their money and resources for LSU.
Lane Kiffin - Ole Miss
Kiffin is an obvious candidate with how fast he has turned around Ole Miss (5-1 #12 in year 2) and his high flying offense. He also is not afraid of taking on Nick Saban and Alabama. The negative on Lane is would Woodward risk hiring him with all the current off field allegations against LSU? Kiffin could be viewed as too risky to clean up the program. As an Ole Miss fan through many lean years, the thought of Kiffin in Baton Rouge makes me want to hurl!
Mel Tucker - Michigan State
Tucker has done a spectacular job turning around a Michigan State program that fell hard at end of Mark Dantonio era. They are currently undefeated. He was DC at Georgia under Kirby Smart and worked for Nick Saban. He also was a former NFL DC with Jacksonville. Tucker is highly regarded in coaching circles and would be a great pick.
Bill O’Brien - Alabama OC
O’Brien has a ton of head coach experience and was successful in both college and NFL. He stepped into an untenable situation at Penn State following Joe Paterno scandal and did admirable job saving the program. He also won several AFC South division titles with the Houston Texans. He is currently the OC for Nick Saban at Alabama and would instantly take the LSU job.
Billy Napier - UL-Lafayette
While Napier may not have the same clout as others on this list, he has done a fantastic job in Lafayette. He also made waves by turning down three SEC jobs in Mississippi State, South Carolina and Auburn. He is clearly waiting on the dream job and LSU would be it. It would be hard to sell the rabid LSU fan base on this hire. I do know powerful people in Baton Rouge who LOVE him.
James Franklin - Penn State
Franklin could be wanting a change from Happy Valley after a decade. His name has also come up for the USC job. He is a strong recruiter and did the Lord’s Work turning around Vanderbilt. A lot of people in college football world do not like him and he has been called a phony for what it is worth.
Dabo Swinney - Clemson
Super long shot but Woodward is going to make the 2 time national champion at Clemson say no. The only job I could see Dabo leave Clemson for is to replace Nick Saban at Alabama. Dabo played football there in college. I also am not sure about the fit as a super Christian in LSU culture.
Luke Fickell - Cincinnati
LSU should throw the money bag at Fickell after what he has built at Cincy. The Bearcats have a legitimate shot to make the playoffs this season. The problem with Fickell is that he is an Ohio State guy from Midwest with zero SEC ties. He still would succeed in Baton Rouge.
Mario Cristobal - Oregon
The former Miami Hurricane and Saban assistant has rebuilt Oregon into the top program in PAC 12 again. He is an ace recruiter too. LSU would have to pay for him but I do not see that as a problem for the Tigers.
Brian Kelly - Notre Dame
A friend sent me a text that he was recently spotted on a mid week flight to Baton Rouge. I needed a tenth name for this list and that is good enough info for me.