Devil’s Advocate: What if it isn’t Mel Tucker or Jimbo Fisher?

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Despite the fact that there is a game on Saturday against ULM, the only hot topic surrounds the head coaching search. While no one really has a gauge on what will transpire, we continue the conversation on potential candidates.

Depending on which outlet you read, you could get a completely different list of guys so we will go through the most likely. Many believe that the hire will be flashy or a big fish. But what if it isn’t one of the two most talked-about guys?

What if LSU strikes out on top candidates?

(Bill Feig/The Advocate via AP)

This is the first major hire as the LSU athletic director for Scott Woodward. That isn’t to downplay bringing in multi-national champion-winning coach Kim Mulkey to run the women’s basketball program. No one is saying that Jay Johnson wasn’t a big hire for the baseball program, especially after he signed the No. 1 rated recruiting class.

When it comes to football it is a completely different animal, especially in the SEC. The LSU football program is one of the top 10 most valuable in the country, so nailing this hire is key. Especially after the Les Miles debacle and what they went through with Ed Orgeron. Sure they won national championships but they have left negative impacts on the culture of the Tigers. Based on the number of dollars it is costing LSU to get rid of Orgeron, they can’t miss. But what if they don’t get the “big fish.”

Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports recently laid out the top two candidates.

CBS Sports previously reported Michigan State coach Mel Tucker would be interested in LSU. Athletic director Scott Woodward continues to search for a monster hire. His presumed No. 1 target, Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher, reiterated his intention to stay with the Aggies on Monday.

Reports have surfaced that Tucker has a long-term deal in hand to stay with Michigan State. Fisher continues to state that he isn’t going anywhere.

Related

Paul Finebaum on Jimbo Fisher's denial "nobody believes coaches anyway"

Just spit ballin’ here, but let’s go through some of those other names.

Lane Kiffin, Ole Miss

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

If neither coach comes to LSU, who is next on the list. Lane Kiffin is a name that was mentioned earlier in the process but even that felt like a longshot. Would Kiffin be a name to consider? Possibly but perhaps he is enjoying what he is building in Oxford without having to answer to all the cooks in the LSU kitchen. Kiffin is a coach that isn’t opposed to job-hopping but he might have learned that the grass isn’t always greener, as he saw from Tennessee to USC.

Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma

(Bryan Terry/Oklahoman-USA TODAY Sports)

Lincoln Riley is clearly a big name and would be flashy but is he a legitimate candidate? I would say no for one very big reason, I don’t think he has any desire to leave Norman, Oklahoma. He has the Sooners on the cusp of the CFP, the loss to Baylor hurts but still time to win the Big 12 Championship and make a push to get into the conversation. Especially if they beat Oklahoma State twice in two weeks. Riley seems to be a hot name every year and nothing ever comes of it.

Dave Aranda, Baylor

Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Dave Aranda. This name should be in consideration due to the fact that the defense hasn’t been the same since he left. Certainly, Derek Stingley Jr sure hasn’t been the same. Aranda’s name has been brought up for USC and possibly LSU, but is it “flashy” enough? He would be a welcomed sight on the sidelines in Death Valley but almost everyone, especially defensive players.

Matt Campbell, Iowa State

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Campbell is a trendy name. However, he feels like a midwest guy. Could he be waiting to see what happens with Mel Tucker at Michigan State and James Franklin at Penn State? Campbell has Big Ten coach written all over him, or Notre Dame. He has likely taken Iowa State as far as he can. He can coach but I am not sure he would even entertain the idea of coaching on the Bayou.

Billy Napier, UL-Lafayette

SCOTT CLAUSE/USA TODAY Network via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Napier is the candidate that I would pound the table for but likely doesn’t get enough consideration. He has turned down SEC jobs in the past, or at least in the interview process. Speculation is that he is in play with the opening at TCU, but we have seen this story before and he stays put. Would winning the Sun Belt for the first time be more intriguing? As an assistant under Dabo Swinney at Clemson and Nick Saban at Alabama, he knows about a winning program and recruiting in the Louisiana hotbed. But hiring a Group of Five coach might be “beneath” the Tigers.

Marcus Freeman, Notre Dame

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

I will get wild for just a second and throw a coordinator name in the mix, Notre Dame’s Marcus Freeman. He was in the mix to become the defensive coordinator at LSU last year but opted for South Bend over Baton Rouge leading Orgeron to get Daronte Jones. Freeman will get plenty of attention and even Brian Kelly said he is a future head coach. If there is one coordinator out there that I would be pounding the table for, it is Freeman.

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