The man that won the 2019 national championship for the Tigers, with one of the most dominant teams in the history of college football, was already in negotiations to vacate his post at the end of the season before kickoff last Saturday. Athletic director Scott Woodward confirmed as much last night, who was hired to replace Joe Alleva after the 2019 championship.
And thus opens up one of the most attractive jobs in college football, though also one of the quirkiest. And the pressure will be immense, as each of the last three head coaches (Nick Saban, Les Miles, Ed Orgeron) has won a national championship.
The leader on the list might have been Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher, who was also hired by Woodward when he was the AD in College Station. Fisher’s current contract is immense and was extended three days before the 2021 season, but ask the fans in Tallahassee: He rarely stops asking for more money and resources for his program.
But Fisher also poured water on that idea at his Monday news conference today.
“I love being here. This is the job I want,” Fisher said. “I love being here. I have a great contract. I have an unbelievable chancellor, an unbelievable president, an unbelievable AD. I believe we’re in the process of building something great. I plan on being here and fulfilling this contract. I love everything about this place.”
Woodward hired Chris Petersen at Washington and Jimbo Fisher at A&M. Since he’s been at LSU, he got the controversial Kim Mulkey from Baylor to lead the women’s basketball team. He’s not afraid of going after the biggest names in their sports. And those would include:
Lane Kiffin, Ole Miss: While the Rebels job has been a great fit for the mercurial coach, it’s tough to win an SEC title with Oxford’s comparative limited resources. That’s not a problem at LSU, where the facilities have been upgraded recently, and the high school football talent is everywhere.
Luke Fickell, Cincinnati: He’s going to be the hottest candidate in America after this season despite the fact he’s never been a coach outside the state of Ohio. But the buy-in and commitment he gets from coaches and players is enormous. But would he be a good cultural fit for a job where the culture of the region and state is so pervasive?
Mario Cristobal, Oregon: As the former Alabama assistant is finding out, creating a nationally competitive team in the Pac-12 can be a real challenge even if you’re at the top of the league. Cristobal is one of the best recruiters in the country, knows the SEC, and has won league titles at both FIU and Oregon. If you’re winning league titles in the SEC, you’re playing for the national championship.
Billy Napier, Louisiana: Cajuns fans might not be happy losing their beloved head man to the much bigger in-state school, but Napier has “La-La” 27-5 the last three seasons, with a pair of bowl wins and one more opportunity coming in 2021. The only thing between him and more Sun Belt titles is Coastal Carolina and a 2019 loss to App State in the title game.