Tag:Florida coaching search
Posted on: January 3, 2011 12:28 pm

Gators hire Dan Quinn as defensive coordinator

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

After some false starts and blind alleys, Will Muschamp has his right-hand man on the Florida defensive staff, as Seattle Seahawks defensive line coach Dan Quinn will become the Gators new defensive coordinator , the Gainesville Sun has reported. Quinn will officially join the Gator staff following the Seahawks' (probably short-lived) playoff run

Forgive Gator fans, though, for wondering if maybe one of those alleys (particularly the one labeled "Kirby Smart") might have led somewhere more exciting than Quinn. Muschamp is familiar with Quinn from their brief shared tenure working under Nick Saban for the Miami Dolphins, where Muschamp served as Saban's defensive coordinator and Quinn coached the defensive line, but Quinn has no prior experience as a coordinator at the FBS level -- he spent one season as the DC for the since-terminated Hofstra program in 2000 -- and hasn't been a college coach in any capacity in a decade.

The good news is that with Muschamp around, the Gators could have promoted Albert and Alberta Gator to co-defensive coordinators and still have more than enough defensive know-how to get the job done. Quinn has precious little experience calling defensive plays (particularly against the spread that's becoming the ever-more-predominant college base offense), but if Muschamp handles that responsibility, Quinn's NFL seasoning and Saban/Muschamp grooming should make him a useful stragegist all the same. The biggest hurdle might be learning the recruiting ropes at a major program like Florida, but the Gators have never seriously struggled in that department regardless of who was on staff.

So is Quinn a home run hire? No. But Muschamp knows what he's getting and knows from defensive coaches, so until/unless Quinn proves him wrong, he'll also deserve the benefit of the doubt.

Posted on: December 27, 2010 11:36 am

Red Raider coordinator James Willis to Florida?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

If you've kept up with the AP headlines, you know that Texas Tech defensive coordinator James Willis has left Tommy Tuberville's Red  Raider staff a week before the Raiders' appearance in the TicketCity Bowl. But according to this report from the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal , there's a lot more to Willis's departure than in your run-of-the-mill firing or resignation:
The Avalanche-Journal learned Sunday night Willis was talking about a job with the University of Florida and Tech coach Tommy Tuberville found out through third parties. The two came to a mutual agreement Willis should leave Tech ...

“I wish James the best of luck, but it is important for (the) football team to keep pressing forward,” Tuberville said in the statement. “We have a great defensive staff here that will carry the load along with my assistance as we prepare for Northwestern .”

Tech spokesman Blayne Beal said Tuberville would not discuss the situation further until Monday in Dallas ... When asked whether Willis’ departure was a resignation, Beal declined to say.

If Willis does wind up making the move to Gainesville, it will come as a surprise (even to parties who aren't the apparently blindsided Tuberville) no matter how it happens. If Willis has agreed to become a position coach on Will Muschamp's staff, it'll mean a step back down the coaching ladder and away from what looked like a secure position on his longtime colleague Tuberville's staff (not to mention a likely pay cut). If Muschamp is planning on naming Willis his own defensive coordinator, he's bringing aboard a DC with only one year's experience at the coordinator position, and a fairly lousy year's worth of experience at that; Willis's Red Raiders finished 116th (out of 120 teams, you'll recall) in total defense and a slightly-less-horrific 85th in scoring defense.

As auditions go, that's not the kind that usually lands a gig as plum as defensive coordinator for the Gators. But you can't accuse Muschamp of not knowing what he's getting into; he and Willis worked together under Tuberville to forge some frequently dominant Auburn defenses in 2006 and 2007.

So Willis-to-Gainesville does make some sense, if not a lot of it. In any case, this is not how anyone would have foreseen Willis's time in Lubbock coming to an end, as the pairing of Tuberville and his longtime assistant seemed destined to be a fruitful one. Instead, Willis spent his only season in the coordinator's chair trying desperately (and unsuccessfully) to patch various holes and wrapped it up going behind his employer's back to look for something better. It's fair to say it's not what anyone -- Raider fans, Tech brass, even Tuberville himself -- would have ever expected.
Posted on: December 10, 2010 11:56 am

Gruden meets with Foley, Meyer

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's time for one of those pieces of news that's more Rorschach Test than hard data: what do you see when you look at Jon Gruden chatting with Urban Meyer and Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley at an Outback Bowl function?

Do you see ...

-- Foley and Meyer making a straightforward power play for one of the perenially hottest names on the coaching circuit?

-- Foley following the lead of his peers in the Miami athletic department and gauging Gruden's interest in coming to the college game as a prelude to potentially offering him the Gator job?

-- a discussion between three lifetime football guys about football issues, maybe even issues related to Florida, but without any real expectation that Gruden would be interested in the available coaching position?

-- a brief, cordial chat between three guys who just so happened to be in the same Tampa room at the same time and just so happened to be an available high-profile football coach, a second high-profile coach football who had just resigned, and the athletic director responsible for replacing the latter with someone like the former?

Since we've got absolutely nothing to go on other than the fact that Foley, Meyer, and Gruden happened to be sharing the same space -- a space in which which all three had good reason to be, what with the Gators playing in the Outback and Gruden living in Tampa -- and a few words of conversation, it's more than a little premature to assume Foley was offering Gruden the keys to one of the richest kingdoms in all of college football.

But it also seems unlikely that Foley, who's sworn he's going to conduct an exhaustive search for the Gators' new head coach (despite needing just the one trip to Starkville, really), would be willing to chat up Gruden in a public setting and not at least float the possibility of Gruden's coming to Gainesville.

Whether Gruden would be more receptive to a ready-built program like Florida than he was the Hurricanes, well, that's another thing you might see between the blots and might not. But this much we know: Foley, Meyer, and Gruden have given us something to look at, and until the Gator search narrows or Gruden emphatically states "I'm not going to Florida," there's going to be plenty of staring.

Posted on: December 9, 2010 5:55 pm

Reports: Pelini "in the mix" at Miami; Tubby out?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

According to Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne on Wednesday, neither Husker head coach Bo Pelini nor Miami athletic director Kirby Hocutt had requested permission to speak to the other about the Hurricanes' vacant head coaching position.

But if this report from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel is accurate -- and it's worth noting that Pelini declined to address the rumors about his flirtation with the Miami job, rather than simply denying them -- then Pelini and Hocutt (or their representatives) decided it was easier to ask forgiveness than permission anyway:
Pelini has spoken to ... Hocutt about the Hurricanes' coaching job but has not been offered it, two people with knowledge of the search told the Sun Sentinel on Thursday.

"He is in the mix," one of the sources said.
That's a mix that as of yesterday appeared to have been culled by one, with Dan Mullen likely pursuing the Florida job instead. And now it may be down another candidate, as the Austin American-Statesman reports that Tommy Tuberville is staying put at Texas Tech :
Tuberville has told school officials there he will not pursue further the head coaching vacancy at the University of Miami, a highly placed official at a Big 12 school told the Statesman Thursday afternoon.

“I think he could get it,” the source said of the Miami job, “because he’s been there before ... But he has shown no interest. They called and talked to him, but he didn’t want to visit with them.”

This runs contrary to previous whispers regarding Tuberville and the Miami job (which he was supposedly angling for), but where Tuberville agent Jimmy Sexton is concerned, smoke-without-fire is par for the course.

If the Sun-Sentinel report is correct that Al Golden has joined Tuberville and Mullen on the "thanks but no thanks" list, Hocutt's options have started to dwindle. If Pelini stays at Nebraska, Hocutt could be all-but-forced to go with a candidate like Randy Edsall or Kevin Sumlin by something like the process of elimination.

But Pelini hasn't declared himself out of the Miami picture just yet. While it's hard to see at first why Pelini would leave football-crazed Lincoln just as the Huskers prepare for the challenge of the Big Ten for a cash-strapped, fan-challenged 'Cane program treading water in the ACC, that Nebraska is still paying him a salary commensurate with schools like Kansas and Oklahoma State might have something to do with it. Until he says point-blank he's staying at Nebraska or the Hurricanes hire someone else, it will be premature to assume Pelini's not taking his coaching talents to South Beach.


Posted on: December 9, 2010 4:28 pm

Fisher says yes, he'll be calling Gator recruits

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The game of recruiting is one where sharks are forever circling any given team's targets and commitments, looking for the one hint of blood that could let them sway a given recruit in a given direction. And seismic news like Urban Meyer's resignation at a recruiting juggernaut like Florida is like tossing those sharks a huge bucket of chum.

This is a given. A coach like Jimbo Fisher at Florida State wouldn't be earning the full amount of his multi-million dollar salary if he didn't at least make a phone call to any Gator recruits who might be inclined to give his Seminoles a closer look given the turmoil in Gainesville. But it's not every day one of the sharks comes right out and admits, as Fisher did at a Chick-Fil-A Bowl press conference today, that yes, he's going to be one of the ones circling (emphasis added):

"I think it will cause at least some delay in [Florida’s] recruiting and what they’re doing and if there’s some battles that we can win from that, OK – so be it. Because that’s part of the business.”

Fisher has gone on record before as deriding those programs who use negative recruiting tactics but, obviously, there’s no way he can’t attempt to use this situation to Florida State’s advantage. Miami is searching for a head coach. Now Florida is, too. And all of a sudden Fisher, not even through his first full season as a head coach, is the most tenured coach among the state’s Big Three.

“They were using the turmoil going on here for all the time to [recruit against us],” Fisher said. “I mean, that’s part of the business … the good thing, we don’t have many guys left to get, know what I mean? There’s six, seven guys or whatever we take or how many it is here at the end.

“It’s not like you’re at the beginning. But it could influence [recruiting] and hopefully it’ll help.”

As Fisher points out, the 2011 recruiting cycle is so far advanced at this stage that there's a limit to how much he and the Gators' other rivals can benefit. But that doesn't mean the 'Noles won't be thrilled if they can get a second shot with Florida commitments like one-time FSU target Nick Waisome, a four-star defensive back from Groveland, Fla., or a better shot with hotly-pursued uncommitted Lake City, Fla. defensive tackle Tim Jernigan.

One player is always just one player, but given how badly the 'Noles embarrassed the Gators in this year's season finale and how well the Seminoles have already recruited this cycle, every recruit that widens the gap between the two programs makes it that much harder for whoever takes over in Gainesville to regain the Gators' dominance of the state. When their rivals aren't even bothering to disguise their intentions of exploiting Meyer's departure for maximum effect, it's obvious how quickly Jeremy Foley will need to find Meyer's replacement ... and how badly he'll need to make the correct choice.


Posted on: December 8, 2010 3:38 pm

If Mullen's off the board, where will Miami turn?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

With the news that Urban Meyer has resigned/retired at Florida (delete as you personally see applicable), the Dan Mullen sweepstakes has a new almost-certain winner. The Gators will likely see Mullen as their Nos. 1, 1A, and 1B candidates, and there's no better fit -- and no place that can pay him more money -- for Mullen than his old stomping grounds in Gainesville. From the outside, it appears to be the kind of marriage that'll have both parties at the courthouse before anyone even knows they're courtin'.

That may be great news for Gator fans who would be happy to sacrifice Meyer if it meant replacing Steve Addazio' s hapless play-calling with Mullen's tried-and-proven offensive acumen, but it's a terrible blow for Mississippi State (who given their financial constraints will have no chance of keeping Mullen if/when the Gators come calling) and a big one for Miami as well. Depending on which reports you believe, the 'Canes had made Mullen their top candidate after being turned down by Jon Gruden , and given his offensive pedigree and performance in Starkville, he was the option with the best combination of availability and likelihood of success.

If he's off the board, where might Miami athletic director Kirby Hocutt turn? A flurry of reports out of South Florida have identified the candidates currently at the forefront of the search. (The 'Canes will apparently risk receiving another sternly-worded letter from Donald Trump , as Mike Leach is not among them.) Taking them one coach at a time, and assessing their chances of eventually taking their talents to South Beach:

Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech: Tuberville has a strong Miami connection, having coached there for eight years and winning a national-title as a defensive coordinator under Dennis Erickson, and would certainly be capable of preserving the team's defensive improvement under Randy Shannon. He would almost certainly accept the job if offered, as whispers have indicated Tuberville has been campaigning hard for the job behind the scenes. (Then again, Tuberville's agent is infamous rumor-starter Jimmy Sexton, so take that with a grain of salt.) The problem is that Tuberville is already 56, with his best coaching days behind him, and has struggled at times putting together a working offensive staff. Would he cause enough of a splash?

Randy Edsall, UConn: Then again, if the 'Canes are seriously considering Edsall, making a splash isn't high on their list of concerns. Edsall would maintain Shannon's sense of rugged discipline, with an old-school grinding running game to match, and there's no doubt he's wrung the most out of his fledgling program. But the Huskies haven't actually been "good," even by Big East standards, as much as they have been the team least-prone to shooting itself in the foot.

Kevin Sumlin, Houston: Sumlin is a young, charismatic coach with an exciting up-tempo offense that ought to put butts in seats; he should be able to immediately connect wit hthe 'Canes fickle fanbase in a way the above candidates might not. But he's also by far the least proven, having made his name by maintaining Art Briles' previous good work at Houston.

Al Golden, Temple: Golden's resuscitation of the Owls is one of the most impressive feats of college coaching of the past few years, and he's young enough that he could be a cornerstone for Miami for years and years to come. But there's a strong sense -- bordering on consensus -- that Golden is waiting for Joe Paterno' s retirement for a shot at the Penn State gig. After Turner Gill' s struggles at Kansas , it's also worth wondering if rebuilding jobs in the MAC are easier than they're made it out to be.

Mike Stoops, Arizona: In what might be seen as a too-close-for-comfort parallel with the Shannon era, Stoops's steady year-by-year improvement project in Tucson took a minor step backwards this year. But Stoops' sideline antics prove he's got the energy for the job, and his reclamation job with the Wildcats has been impressive. But Miami may not be able to pay him much more than Arizona can, and there doesn't seem to be as much buzz as there is with the candidates above.

And that, for the time being, is the list (though the reports also agree that other candidates are likely on the radar screen). There's a few reasonably solid options there, and at this point you might have to consider Tuberville the favorite; he has the biggest name, the strongest ties, and likely the most intense interest. But if Mullen is truly no longer in the picture, Hocutt might also have to get creative to stave off the perception that the Gators stole his hire's thunder clean out from under him.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com