Mazurek: Another crack at the coaching carousel
Marek Mazurek | Tuesday, December 5, 2017
Sometimes in sports journalism you win with your predictions.
Other times you lose.
Last week, I lost. I wrote about the college football coaching carousel and derided Texas A&M’s decision to fire Kevin Sumlin. I claimed that Aggies athletic director Scott Woodward would be foolish to throw away Sumlin’s proven success since there was no way he could hire Jimbo Fisher away from Florida State.
Obviously I got that one wrong, as Fisher arrived in College Station, Texas, yesterday, but I’m ready to get back on the horse and give the coaching carousel another shot. I’ve done a lot of research this time and you can take these predictions to the bank. Here’s who each program currently without a coach will hire.
Florida State: Jon Gruden
With Fisher departing for what he thinks are greener pastures, one of college football’s seminal programs, the Seminoles, are without a skipper. Enter Jon Gruden.
The Florida State position is a big-time job and no candidate out there says big-time like Jon Gruden. Literally, Gruden says “big-time” a lot as a commentator on Monday Night Football. But figuratively as well, Gruden has the experience to keep up Florida State’s winning ways and bring in big-time recruits to Tallahassee. Plus, he knows the state of Florida, having coached the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
UCF: Jon Gruden
Another Florida school left out in the cold after Scott Frost left to coach his alma mater Nebraska is UCF. Frost was young, energetic and a coach the players could relate to and connect with. If you squint a little bit, you can see Gruden as an older version of Frost, and that’s exactly what UCF needs.
For too long, Group of Five schools have hired up-and-coming coaches only to have them bolt for Power-5 ones after a successful season. Now UCF has the chance to turn that narrative on its head by hiring an established coach who will bolt after a successful season because he realizes recruiting is hard work. A big-time (there it is again) coach might also give Group of Five teams some respect in the eyes of the Playoff Selection Committee.
Arkansas: Jon Gruden
The Bret Bielema-era ended unceremoniously a few weeks ago in what can only be called the Bielema-Dilemma. Bielema was informed by University staff that he was fired as he walked off the field after Arkansas’ loss to Missouri and had to endure a press conference having just been relieved of his duties.
Now I hear what you’re saying. You’re saying, “But Marek, Gurden can’t possibly coach in three places at once.” But that’s where you underestimate Gruden’s sheer will-power and charisma. If you think that Gruden’s abilities and ego can be confined to just one school, you’ve got another thing coming.
Plus, the Facebook page “Jon Gruden to Arkansas Razorbacks” has 1,055 likes. I told you I did my research.
Make no mistake, the Volunteers will try really, really hard to get the real Gruden. But the crazed fans of Tennessee nation will get confused and create a grassroots, message-board driven campaign for the parody Twitter personality instead.
But in the end, @Faux_Gruden will make a great fit at Tennessee. Tennessee fans clearly want to be active in the University’s search for a new coach, and why let it stop there? The forward-thinking @Faux_Gruden will undoubtedly be open to crowd sourcing playcalling and recruiting via Twitter.
As good as Nick Saban is, he’s only one man, but @Faux_Gruden will be able to harness the energy of a thousand, nay, one-hundred thousand Volunteer fans who are all coaching experts.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.