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The Countdown

A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.

Coaching Moves

These Guys Are Also (Always) Available

But what if Mississippi did want to nab a proven coach? As offered earlier this morning, it would be difficult for the university to wrestle a current B.C.S. conference coach from his current position; this comes with the caveat, of course, that the Rebels aren’t interested in Paul Pasqualoni, Turner Gill or Randy Edsall —the program could get one of those three relatively easily. In that case, if Ole Miss was looking for a proven coach with a track record of success on the B.C.S. conference level it would need to check out the unemployment line, or at least the line heading into broadcast studios at CBS, ESPN and the like.

You’ll hear Mike Leach’s name bandied about by a fan base dreaming of an easy fix: take SEC speed and add a prolific passing system — shake, stir, bake for eight months — and you get Arkansas, in short. I can see the logic.

My guess is that Leach would take the Ole Miss job, should it come with a nice check, a long contract and assurances from the administration that there would be none of the sort of meddling that led to his downfall at Texas Tech. Ole Miss, in that vein, would ask for a contract allowing it some sort of out should what came to pass in Lubbock — and Leach was only extremely slightly to blame — occur in Oxford.

And Ole Miss dreams of being the new Razorbacks. The idea that the SEC is too fast and lethal defensively to run a wide-open, pass-first offense was put to bed once Arkansas averaged 383.3 yards per game in conference play in 2009; any remaining dissension evaporated in the program’s Sugar Bowl run a year ago.

If Petrino can do it, why can’t Leach? No reason. But he’d need to be in the right place: Oxford could be that place, but Leach might also have the opportunity to return to the sidelines at a school like U.C.L.A., and I think he’d chose the West Coast — based on Leach’s personal preference, his demeanor and the idea that the Pac-12 would be kinder to his Air Raid attack.

Mark Mangino doesn’t look the part; he doesn’t look the part at all, in fact, and Mangino’s physical appearance and resulting heath concerns — and it’s terribly unfair — is surely the reason why he hasn’t been approached by other programs following his dismissal from Kansas two years ago.

But if Ole Miss wants an offensive-minded coach who can work from scratch, well, it can do a whole lot worse than Mangino. There’s simply the concerns mentioned above: a school might wonder whether an individual of his size can handle the responsibilities of running a major program, though it didn’t seem to slow Mangino down in Lawrence.

Rich Rodriguez crashed and burned in Ann Arbor, but he should remain a top candidate for any university with a pulse. You could do much worse; you could have Houston Nutt as a dead man coaching, for example. Rodriguez nearly coached in the SEC once, if you recall: back when he was at West Virginia, Rodriguez nearly signed on the dotted line with Alabama before opting to return to Morgantown. With all due respect to Rodriguez, that turned out just fine for the Crimson Tide.

But Rodriguez is available, and it would be hard to see a better opportunity come his way this winter; Tulane would take him back with open arms, but I imagine Rodriguez will remain a studio analyst before taking on that particular endeavor.

Jeff Jagodzinski. Bill Callahan. Phil Fulmer, Tommy Bowden? The retreads are available, if Ole Miss wants a coach with B.C.S. experience, with a catch: these guys are available for a reason.

Leach is a good coach wronged. Rodriguez is a very good coach with a spotty track record under the brightest of lights — and the spotlight doesn’t dim in the SEC. Fulmer’s time has passed, it seems. Bowden’s time never was, Clemson fans will argue.

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  1. Lee says:

    Kevin Sumlin- cheaper and is a proven head coach. His offense would be fun to watch.

    Mike Leach- if you don’t mind the “weirdness” factor. Obviously his offense can work against nasty defenses.

    Rich Rod- if one of the above guys isn’t interested. Ole Miss and West Virginia would probably be identical if they swapped conferences(similiar programs). So, I think his offense would work here as well.

  2. Dr. Nick says:

    Here’s another idea for Ole Miss or any other BCS school in the south – Southern Miss’ Larry Fedora. He runs an exciting offense, has Southern Miss at 8-1, and can recruit well. I think Ole Miss would be stupid not to at least make a run at him.

  3. Gotham Gator says:

    Good stuff. Most of those would be good choices for Ole Miss.

    And don’t just stop at one Bowden. Little Terry pretty clearly wants another shot at the big time.

    My choice would be RichRod.

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