It did not take long for people to start talking about who the next head coach at Ole Miss will be following the Thursday night resignation of Hugh Freeze. And somehow, one of the betting favorites has quickly become former Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley.
As noted by Rocky Top Talk, the Tennessee blog on SB Nation, the former Vols coach and current assistant with the Dallas Cowboys is listed as the second most-favored coach to take over at Ole Miss, listed at +500 according to BetOnline. SMU head coach Chad Morris is the current betting favorite on the betting website, with Morris listed at +300 to be the next coach of the Rebels.
Other names on the board include former LSU head coach Les Miles (+800), and former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly (+1400). FAU head coach Lane Kiffin has been having fun trolling about the Ole Miss fallout on Twitter, yet he is also on the board at +1600.
For what it is worth, interim head coach Matt Luke has also been given odds to keep the job, and he is listed at +1200.
Here are the latest odds as listed by BetOnline;
- Chad Morris +300
- Derek Dooley +500
- Blake Anderson +700
- Les Miles +800
- Mike Norvell +1000
- Brent Venables +1200
- Scott Frost +1400
- Chip Kelly +1400
- Neal Brown +1600
- Lane Kiffin +1600
- Mike MacIntyre +1600
- Charlie Strong +1600
- Willie Fritz +2000
- Bryan Harsin +2000
- Bobby Petrino +2500
So place your bets wisely. But if you choose to place your money on Dooley, you might as well just send me your money instead.
When Lane Kiffin made the decision to bring Kendal Briles to FAU as an assistant, plenty of eyebrows were raised. Considering the fallout from Baylor and the connection Briles had to it, it was a controversial staff decision, to say the least. Kiffin explained at Conference USA media day FAU’s compliance office took care of conducting a thorough vetting process to make sure the hiring of Briles would not come back to haunt them.
“They really handled that,” Kiffin said, per 247 Sports. “That was more from an athletic director standpoint to handling all that stuff, talking to him and talking to people there and going through it. Then they felt sure. I was more from a football standpoint, saying, ‘Hey, I this is the guy I want to hire.’ Then they did the rest and said, ‘Hey, we feel comfortable about this.’”
This is not the first time Kiffin has had to address the hiring of the controversial assistant football coach. the new head coach of the FAU Owls though remained focused on what Briles brings to the table from a football standpoint and not what kind of baggage comes with it. A month after Briles had been hired, a report connected Briles to contributing to the disturbing culture that took over the Baylor football program under his father, Art Briles. The same report said a lawsuit alleged 52 rapes by football players in the Baylor football program.
“At the time it was not as magnified as the stuff is now,” Kiffin explained, referring to the timeline of events from hiring Briles to the release of the report. “It really wasn’t like it is now. These articles and stuff weren’t out there at the time. So there wasn’t a shock factor like now would be.”
The shock factor may have been elevated, but simply hiring anyone from the Baylor football program coming off the scandal it experienced alone was controversial enough. That it was Kiffin who made the call brought even more notoriety to the hiring.
Lane Kiffin is having a productive morning in his first signing day at FAU. On the heels of learning Kiffin managed to flip a JUCO wide receiver from heading to UCLA, Kiffin has apparently managed to flip another talented wide receiver to come play for the Owls.
Willie Wright of Jacksonville, Florida was heading to Memphis to play for the Tigers in the AAC, but now he will be lining up to catch passes in Kiffin’s offense in Boca Raton. Rivals rates Wright as a two-star prospect, although other recruiting services have him as a three-star prospect. Regardless, this is a decent addition to Kiffin’s first recruiting class at FAU.
In addition to handling wide receiver duties, Wright also has experience as a kick returner, which could be a role he takes on at FAU early on. Wright was one of the first players to receive an offer from Kiffin once he took over the head coaching job on a full-time basis, and he made an official visit in mid-January. He made one final official visit to Memphis on Jan. 27 as the recruiting battle went down to the wire.
Lane Kiffin being hired by FAU may have been one of the more surprising developments in this recent round of the coaching carousel, but it is clearly an opportunity Kiffin is embracing. Already having made one of the more controversial recruiting moves in his first few days on the job, Kiffin is also looking to help support the school’s scholarship fund by encouraging fans to buy season tickets.
In a letter to FAU fans on Friday, Kiffin committed to making a donation to the university’s scholarship fund for every season ticket sold by the university. With attendance being a notable problem for a number of college football programs, including at FAU, finding new ways to give an incentive to buy tickets is always needed. How many fans decide to buy tickets as a result of Kiffin’s pledge to donate to the scholarship fund remains to be seen. It is also unknown how much Kiffin was planning to donate per season ticket.
But every little bit helps, right?
The hiring of Kiffin has brought a new buzz to the FAU program, something that was desperately needed following three consecutive three-win seasons.
Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin may not have been the right guy for the job at Houston, and South Florida ended up going in a different direction as well. Despite missing out on some very interesting job positions, Kiffin will reportedly fill the head coaching vacancy at Florida Atlantic. Brett McMurphy of ESPN reported the coaching hire news, via Twitter. Others soon followed wiht the same information. Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports reports Kiffin will sign a five-year contract.
FAU dismissed Charlie Partridge as the head coach following a third-straight 3-9 season. The Owls, coming off their fourth season in Conference USA, may actually be in better shape as a program now compared to when Partridge was hired even if the record may not show it. Kiffin is stepping into a much smaller spotlight with the Owls, but it is not one that will prevent him from leaving his mark as a head coach. The pressure to win at FAU is nowhere close to where it has been in Kiffin’s recent stops at Tennessee, USC and as Alabama’s offensive coordinator.
The Kiffin-FAU pairing does feel a bit strange at first considering how much Kiffin’s name has been thrown around in recent weeks for various jobs, ranging from potential head coach at Houston or USF to being offensive coordinator at LSU. The big question left unanswered is whether this will be used as a stepping stone to a bigger job offer down the line if Kiffin proves he is capable of being a solid head coach. Such is the life of a Group of Five program, and Kiffin’s name will continue to be thrown in the rumor mill if he has just an ounce of success with the Owls. But Kiffin will get a chance to recruit in Florida, and that should be something he can do well. The recruiting battles in Florida alone just got a whole lot more fun to watch with Kiffin and Charlie Strong coming in to the state.
It is expected Kiffin will stay on the Alabama coaching staff throughout the College Football Playoff run, but who takes Kiffin’s spot on the coaching staff will have to be addressed by Nick Saban at some point. Steve Sarkisian was added to the football staff and could be in line for a possible promotion to offensive coordinator.
FAU hiring Kiffin leaves two FBS coaching vacancies to fill for now. Temple and Western Kentucky remain on the lookout for a new head coach.