Coaching search updates: Lincoln Riley impresses Houston, Rhule spurns Oregon
The coaching carousel is slowing down with Houston, Oregon and Cincinnati still looking
Update: South Florida has hired Willie Taggart per a source close to the process.
The coaching carousel is slowing to a halt as the main job openings are making significant progress toward being filled.
Let's take a look at what's left.
Oklahoma offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley "hit it out of the park" during his recent Houston interview, according to a source. "I would be surprised if they don't hire him," the source said. "Lincoln killed it."
Riley interviewed in recent days along with Les Miles and Alabama offensive coordiantor Lane Kiffin. Riley's presentation was ahead of the others with Kiffin doing "well," according to the source.
Riley couldn't be any hotter at the moment having coordinated the Sooners' offense on the way to the 2015 College Football Playoff. This season, quarterback Baker Mayfield became a Heisman Trophy finalist, as did wide receiver Dede Westbrook.
Mayfield is almost certain to become the NCAA's single-season pass efficiency leader with only the Sugar Bowl left to go.
Under Riley, Oklahoma's offense resembles more of Leach's Air Raid approach. Mayfield is ninth nationally in passing yards and first in accuracy. Westbrook is expected to become an All-American currently standing fifth nationally in receiving yards. His 16 touchdown receptions are third nationally.
Riley fits the Houston profile of a young, up-and-coming assistant with Texas roots hungry to take over a top Group of Five program. The same label applied to Tom Herman and before him Kevin Sumlin and Art Briles.
If Riley gets Houston, then Kiffin may become the top candidate at USF.
The problem? Well, there isn't an opening with the Bulls ... yet. But the coaching carousel never stops spinning because of trivial details like that.
USF coach Willie Taggart reportedly interviewed with Oregon over the weekend. If Taggart leaves, Kiffin at least has name recognition in the Tampa area. His dad, Monte, was the Buccaneers defensive coordinator from 2006-08.
Lane Kiffin reportedly will be the school's top choice should Taggart depart. Kiffin was coy Saturday speaking to reporters about his future after the SEC title game.
Saban might have been upset with Kiffin going to a rival SEC school armed with a lot of Alabama knowledge.
Oregon and Baylor
New Baylor coach Matt Rhule turned down an offer from Oregon to go to Baylor, a highly placed source told CBS Sports.
Before taking the Baylor job, Rhule had met personally with Nike CEO Phil Knight, the source said. Oregon reportedly interviewed Taggart and Boise State's Bryan Harsin over the weekend.
"Matt's a smart guy. I think that he's organized, detail oriented," said Jay Paterno, who coached Rhule at Penn State. "I think he'll do well there. The tough thing in that state is the number of non-Texas guys that have gone in there and not done well. It's a pretty cliquey situation.
A former Penn State linebacker from State College who has spent almost his entire career on the East Coast, Rhule is taking over the football equivalent of a dumpster fire.
The 2016 recruiting class was gutted in the wake of the sexual assault scandal. The 2017 class currently has only one commitment.
Why would he turn down the riches of Oregon? Baylor may actually be an easier rebuild. Oregon suddenly finds itself in a loaded Pac-12 North with playoff participant Washington, Stanford and a Washington State that has a chance to win nine two years in a row.
"It doesn't seem right but Oregon's not the job it used to be," said a person intimately involved with the Oregon program. "They have the greatest facilities in the world, but you still have issues there with recruiting and weather that you don't in the state of Texas."
Baylor lies in the middle of fertile recruiting ground. If the NCAA does come in, the program could rebound quickly but fans must have patience as those barren recruiting classes are addressed.
P.J. Fleck is running out of options.
Western Michigan's ultra-hot coach is seeing potential destinations drop off the board school by school. Purdue went with Western Kentucky's Jeff Brohm. Baylor is filled. Fleck's name has not come up at Houston. Oregon seems to be going in a different direction.
With only one Power Five job (Oregon) open, it's possible Fleck returns to Kalamazoo.
Fleck's representatives told Cincinnati officials the coach wants a Power Five job to the point he wouldn't speak to the Bearcats' hierarchy. "P.J. is not in play here," a Cincinnati official said.
Tommy Tuberville resigned at Cincinnati on Sunday.
While former Texas coach Charlie Strong is "on the list" at Cincinnati, he is not thought to be a top choice.
The Baylor hire put an end to a lot of speculation regarding Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy. Gundy raised some eyebrows with some interesting comments after the Bedlam game. There was even a published report that Gundy was a candidate at Baylor. That would have been a slap in the face to Oklahoma State.
Gundy and mega-booster T. Boone Pickens seem to be feuding again. The problem is, Gundy has nowhere else to go at the moment.
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