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South Florida and Tennessee Jobs Are a Hot Topic

January 13, 2010

ECU Coach Skip Holtz

The coaching carousel is spinning out of control now.  The Tennessee and USF jobs are now open. National Signing Day is February 3 and these jobs have to be filled pronto.  Of course, in order to fill these jobs, someone has to be taken from their current job.  What happens next?

 For the USF job, Skip Holtz of ECU has been rumored to be the front runner.  Holtz has turned ECU into a conference champion and steady bowl team after the Pirates slumped from 2002-04 with a 7-27 record.  Holtz arrived in 2005 and has now led the Pirates to four straight bowl games.  If Holtz were to depart from ECU, AD Terry Holland would have his hands full trying to fill the position.  Equally challenging would be the task of growing the program further.  While East Carolina has been elevated by Holtz’ leadership, it may be difficult for a new head coach to build the program into anything more than what it is now without a move up to a BCS conference.  Big East membership for ECU has been dreamed about for years, but nothing concrete has developed out of those aspirations as of yet.

 USF offers Skip Holtz the opportunity to build off of Jim Leavitt’s success.  South Florida has grown considerably since the program’s birth in the 1990’s, but USF still has the challenge of conference championships and BCS bowl berths to work toward.

Texas Coach Will Muschamp

 Tennessee is in a completely different situation.  Lane Kiffin gave the Vols a one year honeymoon and has abruptly left, taking a significant portion of his staff and part of the 2010 recruiting class with him.  Whoever comes in for that job would have to come in quickly and immediately work toward salvaging this year’s recruiting class.  Candidates for the position have been bandied about already, and those names include Will Muschamp (defensive coordinator and heir apparent at Texas), Randy Edsall of UConn, and David Cutcliffe of Duke.  

Muschamp is the hottest name in the bunch, but he’s already in line for the head coaching position at Texas as soon as Mack Brown decides to step down.  The problem for Muschamp is that no one knows when Brown will vacate the job.  

Edsall was in the mix for the Notre Dame job, though no one is sure that he wants to leave UConn.  Coach Edsall has coached at UConn for eleven seasons now and is a native northeasterner.  His recruiting ties to the South are few.

David Cutcliffe has coached in the SEC before, as an assistant at Tennessee and head coach at Ole Miss from 1998 to 2004.  His success as a head coach has been minimal.  His combined record as a head coach at Ole Miss and Duke is 53-44.  Beyond his head coaching experience, Cutcliffe’s claim to fame is that he coached both Eli and Peyton Manning, who now enjoy life as stars in the NFL. “Cut” has the most southern connections of the three names mentioned, but do the Vols want to see him come back?  Is there a bigger name that they have in mind?

 The USF and Tennessee jobs will get filled and in turn will create two new openings.  The coaching carousel will continue to turn.

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