LSU football coaching hot board 2.0: 5 big names who fit Scott Woodward's big vision
LSU athletics director Scott Woodward doesn’t shop from the coaching bargain bin. Only name brands will suit Woodward, who is set on making another splash hire with football coach Ed Orgeron’s tenure expiring in two weeks.
Woodward has plenty to sell.
LSU is one of the best jobs in the country. Few can match its facilities, financial resources and recruiting footprint. The last three coaches have all won national championships. No other program can boast that accomplishment.
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Those enticements will make any coach listen, but they won’t come cheap. Here are five names that fit Woodward’s profile.
Why he’d say yes: Riley currently has the best path to the College Football Playoff of any coach in the country. Oklahoma has won the last six Big 12 championships. That all changes when the Sooners join the SEC. The terrain will be much easier to navigate at LSU than at an Oklahoma program due for some growing pains in its new home.
Why he’d say no: Oklahoma is a much more stable situation than LSU. Joe Castiglione is the longest-tenured athletics director in FBS. Woodward is trying to build a similar environment, but LSU isn’t there yet. Riley’s $7.7 million salary is already fifth among active coaches and his buyout is $25.2 million.
Texas A&M coach
Why he’d say yes: Woodward has done this dance with Fisher before, luring him from Florida State to Texas A&M in December 2017. The two are close friends, and all things equal, Fisher might jump at the chance to work with Woodward again. While the Aggies finally beat Alabama this season, they’ve never won the SEC West or made the playoff. Fisher can do all those things at LSU.
Why he’d say no: Fisher’s asking price will be astronomical. He agreed to a four-year extension in August, guaranteeing him $9 million annually. Texas A&M has given Fisher everything he’s asked for. It’s a situation he never had at Florida State, which could make him apprehensive to leave it behind for another rebuild in Baton Rouge.
Penn State coach
Why he’d say yes: A change of scenery could benefit Franklin. While still a top-tier Big Ten program, Penn State has stalled over the past two seasons. Franklin has a better shot at winning a national title at LSU than he does Penn State, if only because it’s been done three times since the Nittany Lions last won it all.
Why he’d say no: Franklin’s name has been linked to several jobs in recent years. Yet he has elected to stay in Happy Valley each time. The six-year extension that Franklin agreed to in 2020 pays him $38.2 million plus incentives. Those numbers will make any coach think twice about a potential move.
Michigan State coach
Why he’d say yes: It’s the next step for Tucker. The former LSU assistant left Colorado for a better job at Michigan State and this would be another logical move. Tucker remains popular on campus, which would help him navigate the delicate politics that come with this job.
Why he’d say no: Tucker’s departure from Colorado drew criticism nationally. He left after only one season and four days after tweeting he was committed to the Buffaloes. It’s a situation that Tucker, who is in line for a raise at Michigan State, might not want to repeat.
Ole Miss coach
Why he’d say yes: Under no circumstances is Ole Miss a better job. The Rebels are the only pre-expansion SEC West member to never win the division. Their last SEC championship was in 1963. LSU would give Kiffin the vehicle to compete at the highest level that Ole Miss cannot match.
Why he’d say no: Kiffin has left an SEC job for a marquee destination before. He ended up fired for his troubles. The older and perhaps wiser Kiffin has learned from that experience after spurning Tennessee for Southern Cal. Few coaches fit the culture at their schools better than Kiffin at Ole Miss. There’s something to be said for quality of life, which is always precarious at LSU.
Adam Hunsucker covers LSU for the USA TODAY Network. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @adam_hunsucker. Enjoy Adam’s work? Consider a digital subscription for unlimited access.