Both local beat and national writers are in agreement. It seems a matter of “when” not “if” for Les Miles departing LSU. One would presume if the administration is comfortable with a $15 million buyout, they know who they want. Here are five plausible candidates.
Jimbo Fisher: His appeal is obvious. He’s a former LSU coordinator. He’s 48-5 the past four years at Florida State with a national title. For a quarterback-starved school, he’s fresh off a run of sending three-straight to the first Round of the NFL Draft. Now, he even comes with hair.
We know Jimbo loves Louisiana and LSU. This wouldn’t be about money. FSU bumped him up to $5 million per year and would, we presume, go higher. His success has been bogged down by off-the-field issues at Florida State. He’s had his own personal issues. Maybe LSU would offer a fresh start.
Dan Mullen: Mullen is heading to his sixth-straight bowl game, which is no small feat at Mississippi State. He’s currently winning with the quarterback Les Miles recruited to play tight end. Though, he has, per reports, rubbed folks the wrong way in the past.
Mullen loves the job he has. He’s also been linked to every major opening since 2010. A great coaching job in Starkville lets you compete. A great coaching job in Baton Rouge lets you compete for titles. If this search gets to Mullen, it’s hard to see it going beyond him.
Dabo Swinney: He has rebuilt Clemson. This will be his fourth-straight Top 15 finish. There were reports he was willing to consider Florida last year. Of course, there’s a difference between leaving before the Russell Athletic Bowl and leaving before a probable playoff bid.
Dabo has charisma. He can manage a program. He also will lean heavily on his coordinators and has a disappointing record in big games. He sounds like the younger version of Miles.
Mike Gundy: He’s a man. He’s reeled off four 10-win seasons in his last six years at Oklahoma State. He’s only 48. Gundy is an Oklahoma State alum, but there have been reports for years about internal tension. He nearly left for Tennessee in 2013. Could LSU go for another coach from Oklahoma State with “Just For Men” Auburn hair?
Kirby Smart: Smart has coordinated some of college football’s best-ever defenses at Alabama. He’s been in the same position under Nick Saban since 2008. They are paying him a boat load to preclude him taking a non-Power 5 head coaching job. He’s only 39. He could be a candidate for a number of jobs. Though, it’s hard to see paying that much to get rid of Miles to hire a defensive coordinator.