Lincoln Riley, Mario Cristobal named among ESPN’s LSU head coach “wishlist”

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Earlier this week, I put out a list of coaches that could get a look once the brass at LSU decides to move on from head coach Ed Orgeron. While we were just spitballing some names, there are three that I do hear more often than not. The top being Lane Kiffin of Ole Miss, James Franklin of Penn State, and Luke Fickell of Cincinnati.

Adam Rittenberg of ESPN (subscription required) put together a list of “home run” hires for the Tigers. Among them are some very heavy hitters, we will focus on a couple. We know the history of LSU AD Scott Woodward and Jimbo Fisher, so let’s skip that name.

The biggest head-scratcher from Rittenberg is Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley.

Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley might be an unrealistic target, but Woodward could still gauge his interest. The Sooners are SEC-bound and could face a rocky transition. Riley is considered the nation’s premier quarterback developer and offensive playcaller, two areas in which LSU has been lacking except in 2019. While Riley is extremely loyal to OU, he also might have a ceiling when it comes to winning national championships, which wouldn’t be there in Baton Rouge.

Rittenberg also mentioned Mark Stoops who just beat LSU at their own game just a few days ago. Or how about Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy? Gundy took over as the Oklahoma State head coach when Les Miles bolted for LSU following the Nick Saban departure. Not exactly a sexy pick, but you can understand the reasoning.

List

Potential targets for the LSU Tigers at head coach

How about Oregon Ducks head coach Mario Cristobal?

Oregon’s Mario Cristobal would be one. Cristobal is one of the nation’s best and most relentless recruiters, and has built a top-10 program aiming for its third consecutive Pac-12 title and its first College Football Playoff appearance since 2014. Although the Ducks should be even better next year, Cristobal could be intrigued by the SEC, where he coached under Saban at Alabama, and a Tier 1 job with no recruiting limitations such as LSU. He wouldn’t be cheap, and his buyout to leave Oregon is $9 million until Jan. 14, 2022. But money isn’t going to stop Woodward and LSU, as any coaching transaction will total in the tens of millions.

One should believe that Cristobal is more believable than Riley. While Riley has Oklahoma in a very good spot, the pressure as the Sooners head coach isn’t near what he would face at LSU. Cristobal has already served under Nick Saban and knows what it takes in the vaunted SEC.

Either way, this coaching search is likely to be huge.