5 at 10: Coaching carousel, Urban Meyer and the SEC Championship game

5 at 10: Coaching carousel, Urban Meyer and the SEC Championship game

November 30th, 2011 by Jay Greeson in Sports

Strong week so far gang. Well-played indeed all the way around. And we don't know if Urban Meyer was able to land a four-star house cat and a five-star set of siblings, but we do know where he was Tuesday night. Read on.

From the "Mama McNabb stage here at the Al Davis Studio," here we go...

AP Photo/Phil Sandlin Florida coach Urban Meyer points to the field as he protest a call by referees during an NCAA college football game with South Florida.

Coaching carousel

From the Boston Red Sox hiring Bobby Valentine to THE Ohio State hiring Urban Meyer to the plethora ("Would you say I have a plethora of pinatas Jefe?" - "Oh yes, El Guapo.") of college football jobs that are open or that are going to be open, the Monster.com of coaching resumes is going nuts. Nuts.

We have had some fun at Urban Meyer's expense, but no one doubts he'll have THE Ohio State right in the thick of the Big Ten race next fall. The same can't be said for Bobby V., regardless of the overload of talent the Red Sox have.

With that in mind here's a quick list of five high-profile college football gigs and some names to remember:

Penn State - We told you in Wednesday's TFP that Dan Mullen would be making a push in Happy Valley. Here's saying if he's offered that gig he goes North faster than a 74-year-old Florida resident in April. Somewhere a cow bell weeps.

From there the names become fairly familiar and somewhat redundant: There's Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, Houston coach Kevin Sumlin, Baylor coach Art Briles, Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora, Louisville's Charlie Strong and everyone's favorite pirate, Mike Leach.

University of North Carolina

There have been strong rumors about Malzahn heading here, but that seems to have cooled some. Especially since if you were going to hire a coordinator with zero college head coaching experience from last week's Iron Bowl, wouldn't Smart make more sense that Malzahn. This one could be a wild card, since UNC is about to hit some serious NCAA speedbumps. We think the Tar Heels will move a little slower - AD Bubba Cunningham has been on the job for something like a month. The well-connected Cunningham came to UNC from Tulsa (where Malzahn coached before going to Auburn) and played college golf at Notre Dame (where he was a classmate of USF coach Skip Holtz).

Illinois

Watch out for Cincy coach Butch Jones, who was hired by Illinois AD Mike Thomas when Thomas was at Cincy before going to Illinois.

UCLA

This one could be a wild card, too. Could it be something as wild as recently fired Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio, a USC alum who is quite familiar with Southern California? Could it be someone like former Falcons and Seahawks coach Jim Mora Jr.? Leach could fit here. So could Boise State coach Chris Petersen. But UCLA has to make a splash since USC and Lane Kiffin is starting to dominate the SoCal market again. And that 50-0 whipping Lane and the Trojans dropped on UCLA only magnified that.

Ole Miss

We'd be really careful about the thoughts of a Sumlin and/or Briles here. Both have turned around programs - and the Rebels need a lot of turning around - but let's face it, those two guys turned around programs because they landed big-time quarterbacks. Were Case Keenum and/or Robert Griffin III hugely underrated during the recruiting process or did Sumlin and Briles snag diamonds in the rough? Either way, those guys look like gambles in the SEC. We think Smart or Strong - two admirable quailities - would be great fits here. Watch for Steelers OC Bruce Arians as a possibility here, too.

University of Georgia football coach Mark Richt talks to his team before a game in Athens this season.

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

SEC championship

We told you Tuesday that our crack college football ace David Paschall is in his element right now. It's the week of the SEC title game and Paschall has three stories in today's TFP. Here (Secondary primary strength for LSU), here (Mettenberger links UGA, LSU) and here (UGA: Under-Dogs eager for 'test' with LSU).

Let's start to break down the LSU-Georgia game:

Does Georgia have a chance?

LSU has the edge in every positional category other than QB (Georgia gets the edge) and LB (we'll call that even). And while Georgia's secondary is among the best in college football, LSU's secondary will rank among the best ever when we look back on them in a few years.

But, does Georgia have a chance? Not a great one but the Bulldogs do have a shot, and here's how:

Put the game in quarterback Aaron Murray's hands. And on his feet. If Murray is able to be effective moving around - buying time, escaping pressure, turning a 5-yard loss into a 3-yard gain - and working with a healthy Isaiah Crowell, Georgia will be the most balanced offense LSU has faced.

Is the Tigers defense great? You bet they are, but great defenses can give up yards (LSU allowed more than 500 to a better-than-average West Virginia team, which featured a quarterback with mobility). And great defenses can be beat (we still think Alabama's defense is better than LSU's but we've been called far worse than crazy many, Many, MANY times).

We'll have our official pick in Thursday's Fab 4 (plus-1), but right now we think the SEC title game may be closer than a lot of folks think.

Duke's Austin Rivers, left, tries to dribble past Ohio State's Lenzelle Smith during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2011, in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State beat Duke 85-63. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

Not a promising start to a huge week of college hoops

The 5-at-10 has high hopes for this college basketball season. You know this.

With the (League that shall not be named) in a labor funk and isolated in a 52-day 5-at-10 timeout, we believed this was a golden chance for college hoops to regain some regular-season attention. You know this too.

That said, there were two major downers in Tuesday night's clash between No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 4 Duke:

First, the game turned into a rout. This does not portend well for a college hoops season that needs there to be as many as 10 really-good-to-great teams. Plus, the one-sidedness removed the drama factor completely and forced the Mrs. 5-at-10 to ask the dreaded, "What else is on?" (Side note here: To be fair, the Mrs. 5-at-10 is beyond reproach when it comes to watching sports on TV. She's a real star. She loves all football, which is a huge plus, likes baseball and postseason basketball and will tolerate regular-season hoops. And she had every reason to ask what else is on after the Buckeyes made Duke look like a pretty good high school team.)

Second, Dick Vitale has become worse. Read that again. Let's start at the beginning: The 5-at-10 thinks Dick Vitale is a great human being who is kind and generous and loves life, his family and especially college hoops. He is giving with his time to fans and other interests, be them charities or media. He has nothing but the best interest of college basketball at heart.

He also makes our ears bleed. Holy helpings of hearing harnesses, Dickie V has become too-Dickie V even for the ultimate Dickie V fans. His schtick (great word, by the way) was ground-breaking 20 years ago, but now that we're of the age that diaper dandies are simply clean diapers and "Are you Serious?!?!" is asked about every third possession, well, thanks for the passion Dickie V, but we're going to turn the volume down and watch in silence. And when Dickie V is calling a blowout, well, it becomes really easy to wonder, "What else is on?"

But hey, at least new THE Ohio State (of chaos) football coach Urban Meyer was there to say hello to the fan base. You think when he left the game he went to be with the family or went to recruit?

UTC players Drazen Zlovaric (20) and Ronrico White (11) box a Savannah State player in the corner as head coach John Shulman looks on. The Mocs defeated the Tigers 65-63 Friday night at the McKenzie Arena.

Photo by Robin Rudd/Times Free Press.

This and that

- Speaking of THE new coach at THE Ohio State, Urban Meyer's new contract includes a country club membership. Wait... how is he going to have time for golf with work and family... oh nevermind.

- TFP ace columnist Mark Wiedmer does a strong job looking at the lagging attendance at UTC hoops games and what the start to conference play could mean for the Mocs in the stands. Read it here (Wiedmer: Next two games huge for Mocs' record, reception), and know that the most damaging thing for a college sports program is apathy. Apathy is far worse than outrage or anger, because at least those emotions cause fans and followers, students and supporters to act. Apathy kills a program from the inside.

- Sweet buckets of blistering backtalk, after spending the last several seasons held hostage by an ownership group that was as calculating as the crew on the Titantic, L.A. Dodgers fans may have a new ownership group that includes Larry King for crying out loud. "Burbank, Hello." Yep, what the Dodgers need after the McCourt's divorce held the franchise hostage for a season and a half is the seven-time-wed King being part of the new ownership team. "Orange County, Hello."

Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley reacts during the third quarter of an NCAA college football game against South Carolina on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011, in Knoxville, Tenn. South Carolina won 14-3. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

Today's question(s)

There was a lot of response to our column in Tuesday's TFP. Thanks for that. And we want to be clear on this: Never did we say Derek Dooley should be canned right now. We do believe strongly that 2012 will be a make-or-break season for Dooley in Knoxville.

With that in mind, and with all the coaches openings around sports, today's question is quite simple: Who do you want coaching your favorite team and why?

Now there are some ground rules:

1) Remember, the biggest question before anyone should call for a coach's job is, "Who are you going to hire that is better?"

2) Be realistic. If you're a Mocs fan don't say Coach K or Ditka or any other super-high-profile name that is nothing more than a pipe dream. If you're a UT fan, you can't say, "I want Saban to replace Dooley." Well of course you do. Everyone would love to have Saban - well everyone except the beat reporters at that school.

3) If you're happy with who you got, let it be known. Support is important.

Bring it.