by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
We Tell you who the brass are looking at, from all over CFB:
You may know the names...do you know the people?
MEL TUCKER (Michigan State)
Could LSU's first black President usher in the arrival of the school's first black Head Coach?
Michigan State has been middling with Mel as their head coach, and as a firm member of the Nick Saban coaching tree, combined alongside a year at LSU coaching the DBs in 2000, winning a National Championship as a DBs Coach at Ohio State during his 3 year stint 2001-2003, before climbing to the NFL for three consecutive stops in Cleveland (DBs coach from 2005-2007) Mel has experience;
After Todd Grantham was ousted as Cleveland's Defensive Coordinator, Mel was promoted to the DC job for the Browns' 2008 season.
Starting in 2009 and for the next few seasons, Mel took a gig as the Defensive Coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars, coaching a mid-ranked defensive unit who forced 15 interceptions and allowed 5.7 yards per play over 2009.
They were 27th ranked in points allowed over 2010, while the rankings dwindled around the same mid to lower spots....however, during the 2011 season when Mel Tucker became the interim Head Coach after the firing of Jack Del Rio, Jacksonville's defensive ranking surged up to 11th overall in points allowed, 6th in yards surrendered, they grabbed 17 interceptions, and hovered in and around the top 10-15 in most rankings.
Tucker went 2-3 during his interim head coaching stint in Jacksonville, before taking the AHC/DC job in 2012 and overseeing a defense that plundered to dead last as the team fell to a 2-14 record.
During the 2013-14 seasons, Tucker had a much maligned and historically bad couple seasons as the DC of the Chicago Bears, ousted even after the team replaced assistants on his staff to make it work.
But his return to the college ranks was where he grabbed another title ring, the second in his collection...this time after a reunion with Nick Saban at Alabama:
Joining Saban's staff as the Assistant Head Coach / DBs Coach, Tucker helped the Tide to another National Championship, won after a wild 45-40 shootout vs Clemson.
Soon after, Kirby Smart finally left after 8 seasons and accepted the Head Coaching position at Georgia, taking Mel Tucker with him and appointing his former Bama staffer to the Defensive Coordinator job, starting a wrecking crew of havoc at Georgia.
Over the next three seasons, his historically awesome defenses, layered with powerhouse players and future NFL stalwarts, took over the SEC East and sent Georgia to a battle royale CFP Playoff in 2017/18.
Following two brilliant games, Tucker's defense survived Oklahoma at the Rose Bowl in what is regarded as arguably the greatest college football game of all time, and then barely lost to Alabama in the National Championship game....amid the first ever overtime title game.
Holding 11 of 15 teams under 19 points during the 2017/18 title appearance campaign, Tucker's unit was awesome. The recruiting was fantastic as well, producing numerous 4 & 5 star talent and NFL players.
After a few historic defensive seasons, Tucker climbed the ladder to his own head coaching gig, this time at Colorado. But his time was short-lived, finishing 5-7 and going 3-6 in the Pac 12 before leaving to take the head coaching job at Michigan State, grabbing a $5.5 million dollar per year salary on a 6 year contract.
While only holding a 14-12 overall head coaching record, Mel Tucker can do two things well, especially if given LSU-esque resources:
He can recruit defense....and he can coach winning defense in the SEC.
Can he lead an SEC program?
We'll never know if he isn't given the chance.
DAVE ARANDA (Baylor)
A name I've been doing a lot of digging on lately....and I've been coming up with surprising dividends:
Aranda is a name I'm told "intrigues Woodward a lot" for a variety of reasons:
Not only does Scott know Dave well, has worked with Dave in the past, understands how Aranda works, knows how he recruits, the culture he would instill, and now after seeing him at Baylor for two seasons, including his first being a topsy turvy pandemic year, he has seen how he can run a program......after blistering wins against top 10 ranked BYU this past weekend, Dave's star is only rising on the LSU head coaching front.
Aranda knows LSU...he gets the Tigers well....he believes in the program, I know he does...he wouldn't have stayed as long as he did, rejecting as many opportunities that came his way....and yet still the current Baylor Head Coach's LSU tenure was short.
Winning a National Championship under Athletic Director Scott Woodward, coaching up a brilliant defense loaded with Grade A talent that he recruited....many of which still light up the screen for LSU every Saturday or every Sunday across the NFL....
Aranda's 8-8 head coaching record is one thing to consider, but so is the manner in which he galvanized players, respected families, forged relationships, developed young men into great people as well as NFL superstars.
If Dave is ready for the job, Scott Woodward will hire him.
LANE KIFFIN (Ole Miss)
The name that seems to be the hottest, yet the most divisive:
LANE KIFFIN....AT LSU???
After all his volatile past stops, from Oakland, USC to Tennessee (which still angers Vols fans to the point they hurled hundreds of bottles and other debris at Kiffin and his team this past weekend), Kiffin has seemed to burn bridges everywhere he's gone with a shit-eating grin, a bottle of rum and two cigars lighting the fuse.
The guy even pissed off Nick Saban so badly, the Sabanator cut him loose only days before a National Championship game....
But he's also a charismatic offensive genius....a tag that's thrown around too carelessly, yet it's one this site doesn't ever bestow......except for minds such as Joe Brady, Sean Peyton, Sean McVay, Lane Kiffin....offensive genius is a perfect tag.
We understand the offensive firepower and respect he'll bring to LSU, arming the Tigers with firm recruiting prowess, continuing the conveyer belt of top tier skill position talent inside the state of Louisiana, an area Kiffin has recruited well in the past.
He would mobilize and fortify the Tigers' offensive future, making LSU a bastion for QBU fireworks, continuing in the image of Joe Burrow with wunderkinds Max Johnson, Garrett Nussmeier, Walker Howard, potentially Arch Manning, and 2024's Mabrey Mettauer; Over the next few years, the Tigers have a slew of future greats at the quarterback position.....and with Kiffin on the recruiting trail, the options will only expand.
But the shortcomings are his defensive aptitude....not only his vision for his defensive hires, also the finesse philosophy behind it all:
Rarely do we talk about Kiffin teams "dominating at the line of scrimmage" except on those big nights: 2019 vs LSU, 2020 vs LSU...rushing for over 300+ yards vs our Tigers and still losing on both occasions....
There's a finesse type of vibe with Kiffin that may not be adequate to compete in the SEC West at the highest level, week in and week out.....still, he could pursue the right hires and boost the team's steel, fronted by his brand od offensive fireworks....
Lane's a wild card....and what other way would it be?
BILLY NAPIER (Louisiana Rajun Cajuns)
Many will cry that "he's not ready", but I think Napier can do the job....right now....
Yes that's right....I'm backing Napier's ability to lead the LSU program....however, this decision isn't mine, nor is it yours:
It's Scott Woodward's choice....and he is not only a buddy of Billy's, he's also a supporter and ally of the local Head Coach for the Louisiana-At-Lafayette Rajun Cajuns, competing out of the Sun Belt Conference.
The Tennessee-native could very well be a dark horse candidate for this job to watch out for, especially when you consider his background, two stints at Alabama (2011 as an analyst, 2013-2016 coaching Alabama WRs such as Amari Cooper, Christion Jones, Cam Sims, Calvin Ridley and Ardarius Stewart).
Does he possess the pedigree to jump from the Sun Belt to the SEC....not in any other capacity he's served before (AHC/QBs at Colorado State was his highest), but as the head coach of LSU?
It's possible....but is it likely?
JIMBO FISHER (Texas A&M)
Yes....Scott Woodward created Jimbo's contract at Texas A&M....he understands every nook and cranny of the document....he knows their is no buyout....
Will he squeeze the trigger and bring back Jimbo Fisher to LSU?
I hope to God no....if Jimbo Fisher is hired by Scott Woodward, I believe it could be one of only a few poor missteps Woodward could make at this juncture.
You just can't hire Jimbo Fisher, not after this recent A&M stint, not when his offensive philosophy is so borderline outdated, or his personal life is in such "behind closed doors" disarray...
Jimbo is a shadowy, unseemly figure....and I feel Woody has better options.
VERDICT RIGHT NOW:
#1 DAVE ARANDA
#2 LANE KIFFIN
#3 MEL TUCKER
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Copyright 2021 Uninterrupted Writings Inc
SHOUTOUTS: THANK YOU DON, ADIESEL, NURSEKORT, DUCHESS, NATALE VITTORI!!!