The zaniness of the college football regular season exceeds past what’s on the field. Case in point – Alabama’s offensive coordinator, Jim McElwain, had accepted the offer from the University of Memphis to be their next head coach but then changed his mind. Apparently, the issue was a contractual one that Memphis refused to budge from. The Tigers then moved on to hire TCU co-offensive coordinator Justin Fuentes.
This news came on the heels of Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart interviewing for the job with Texas A&M, however, the Aggies seem to be going in another direction by agreeing in principle with Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin.
If Sumlin will indeed be the next head coach at Texas A&M it’s another questionable move by the Aggies as they are going into a league dominated by top defenses and Smart is regarded as one of the best defensive coordinators in the country.
Sumlin, known for his high-flying offenses while at Houston, will compete with other offensive-minded SEC coaches like Bobby Petrino and Steve Spurrier who have found success in the SEC. The most successful offensive-minded head coach who most recently was in the Southeastern Conference was Florida’s Urban Meyer who won two national championships but also had the benefit of having some top-notch defenses on those national championship squads.
In a twist of irony that sees Alabama’s top assistants not landing head coaching gigs, who both coach have helped the Tide achieve the chance to again play for the national championship this year just like they did in 2009, the coordinators of Arkansas and Auburn have either left to become head coaches or made lateral moves to be position coaches elsewhere.
Arkansas’ offensive coordinator, Garrick McGee, was tabbed to replace Neil Callaway as the next head coach at UAB. He has the unenviable task of trying to make a contender out of a Blazers team that hasn’t posted a winning record since 2004.
McGee’s departure was the first of three for Arkansas as defensive coordinator Willy Robinson resigned and special teams coach John L. Smith, infamous for his meltdown following a bad call against Ohio State in 2005, was hired to be the next head coach at his alma-mater, Weber State.
Arkansas has already made the first hire following the departures. In a fine case of nepotism, Bobby Petrino has hired his brother Paul to be Garrick McGee’s successor.
Auburn, just one year removed from winning the national championship, is also experiencing major coaching turnover as defensive coordinator Ted Roof has made the somewhat lateral move to leave the Plains and head to Central Florida for the same position.
Also, innovative offensive coordinator for the War Eagles, Gus Malzahn, has emerged as the favorite to land the head coaching position at Kansas. His main competition according to KUsports.com is Northern Illinois head coach Dave Doeren, whose Huskies won the MAC in his first year as head coach.
Having Alabama’s top assistants, who have helped lead the Tide to the national championship game for the second time in three seasons, be passed over for head coaching positions is definitely head-scratching. In a season which has seen Arkansas somewhat underachieve with their best squad to date under Bobby Petrino and Auburn barely end the regular season with an above average record one would think that Jim McElwain and Kirby Smart, especially, would have been able to snag head coaching positions particularly over the Arkansas and Auburn assistants.
In any case with the turnover facing two of the top four SEC schools it’s safe to think that each might experience some growing pains heading into next season.