December 23, 2008

Focus shifts to filling coordinator spots

MORE: Coaching carousel

With only three head-coaching spots still open Army, Miami University and New Mexico State the focus in the coaching community has shifted to coordinator spots.

New Auburn coach Gene Chizik has told Tommy Tuberville's holdovers that they won't be retained, and there are rumblings that former Auburn coach Pat Dye will play a big role in helping Chizik build his staff.

It has been reported Auburn has contacted Georgia offensive line coach Stacy Searels, who is one of the best in the business. Chizik also could have interest in another Georgia assistant, defensive line coach Rodney Garner. Like Searels, Garner is an Auburn alum.

An early name rumored for the defensive coordinator spot is Dallas Cowboys linebackers coach Reggie Herring, who was linebackers coach at Auburn from 1986-91 and whose son is a linebacker for the Tigers. Another possible defensive coordinator is Ted Roof, who did a fantastic job rehabbing Minnesota's defense this season.

The most interesting hire for a program that struggled to move the ball this season will be at offensive coordinator. One name that has been tossed out is Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis. Others to watch are Oklahoma State co-coordinator Trooper Taylor, former Kansas State coach Ron Prince, Miami coordinator Patrick Nix and former Syracuse offensive coordinator Mitch Browning.

Kiffin filling out staff

New Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin still has several spots to fill on his staff, which may not start coming together until next week. One of the biggest issues Kiffin must wrestle with is whether he wants to be his own offensive coordinator.

Monte Kiffin, Lane's dad, will come aboard as defensive coordinator. He's a longtime NFL coordinator who was head coach at North Carolina State from 1980-82. has learned that former Auburn running backs coach Eddie Gran has interviewed for a spot on Kiffin's staff to run special teams and also coach running backs or tight ends. Gran widely is considered to be one of the top recruiters in the SEC.

Former Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron, who oversees the New Orleans Saints' defensive line, could be a target for a spot on Kiffin's staff. But it is thought that Orgeron, who coached with Kiffin at USC, likely will remain in the NFL.

Promotion coming at Michigan?

It is looking more likely that Michigan will promote Jay Hopson from linebackers coach to defensive coordinator to replace the recently departed Scott Shafer.

Before joining Rich Rodriguez's staff, Hopson was defensive coordinator at Southern Miss for three seasons.

Other possibilities include former New Mexico coach Rocky Long, Notre Dame defensive coordinator Corwin Brown, West Virginia defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel and East Carolina secondary coach Rick Smith.

Miles looking for coordinator

LSU co-defensive coordinator Bradley Dale Peveto is off to be head coach at Northwestern State (La.), a Football Championship Subdivision (i.e., Division I-AA) program. Fellow co-defensive coordinator Doug Mallory has been offered the defensive coordinator post at New Mexico, and some reports say he already has taken the job. The bottom line: LSU's Les Miles likely will need a new defensive coordinator.

Ed Orgeron is thought to be a target. He's a Louisiana native and a boffo recruiter, but as mentioned before, he figures to say with the Saints. Other possibilities remain Tennessee defensive coordinator John Chavis, former Syracuse coach Greg Robinson, UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker and Ole Miss defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix.

No hurry at Illinois

Word is that Illinois coach Ron Zook isn't in a hurry to hire a new offensive coordinator to replace Mike Locksley, who was named coach at New Mexico.

Zook could promote from within. Offensive line coach Eric Wolford, inside receivers coach Jim Pry or outside receivers coach Kurt Beathard could be options.

Zook also is looking at outside candidates, including former Miami University coach Shane Montgomery, former Eastern Michigan coach Jeff Genyk and former Syracuse offensive coordinator Mitch Browning.

Swinney looking for coordinator

New Clemson coach Dabo Swinney has talked to former Tennessee defensive coordinator John Chavis about the Tigers' vacant defensive coordinator post. Another possibility is Alabama linebacker coach Kevin Steele. Both are South Carolina natives.

Huskies need a defensive coordinator

New Washington coach Steve Sarkisian recently named California offensive line coach Jim Michalczik as offensive coordinator, though Sarkisian will call plays.

The intriguing hire Sarkisian will make is the one for the defensive coordinator spot. Washington's defense has been woebegone for years, so it's vital Sarkisian makes the right hire. One prominent name is Rocky Long. It was thought Louisville's Ron English was a target, but he recently accepted the head-coaching spot at Eastern Michigan. Also keep an eye on former Utah State coach Brent Guy.

Purdue involved in a search

The Purdue defensive coordinator spot remains a mystery. Some feel Boilermakers coach Danny Hope may hire Florida Atlantic linebacker coach Kurt Van Valkenburgh. Hope already has hired FAU offensive coordinator Gary Nord to coordinate the Boilermakers offense.

Other names for the defensive coordinator job are South Carolina safeties coach Ron Cooper and former Nebraska defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove.

English out, Miller up?

With Ron English off to coach Eastern Michigan, don't be shocked if Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe promotes linebacker coach Bill Miller to the defensive coordinator spot. Miller has extensive experience running defenses, including at Miami, Oklahoma State and Michigan State.

Another Mallory at Miami?

A decision is expected at any time at Miami University. All signs appear to be pointing toward Illinois co-defensive coordinator Curt Mallory, whose father, Bill, was Miami's coach from 1969-73. Michigan State offensive coordinator Don Treadwell is the other assistant in the mix.

New Mexico State still searching

The New Mexico State job still looks like it will go to a minority, with Oklahoma State running backs coach Curtis Luper having interviewed. Others believed to be involved are UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker, Nebraska receivers coach Ted Gilmore and Pittsburgh Steelers running backs coach Kirby Wilson.

Tom Dienhart is the national senior writer for and Yahoo! Sports. He can be reached at

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