As we start to fall into the name game in the coaching carousel, there are already rumblings from around the world of college football about possible coaching changes.
This year much of that is swirling out of Dallas, Texas. Chad Morris is only in his third year with SMU, yet has made the type of consistent progress you see in winning coaches (2-10, 5-7, 5-2 in year three) and is suddenly the hot name in the search circles.
His availability may affect decisions made on current coaches and whether a school will pull the plug or not.
Just to give you a quick background on why Morris is so hot, it’s simple: Recruiting, recruiting, recruiting. Everything he does is based on recruiting, including his house in Dallas which includes a lot of of amenities specifically targeted at recruits.
He is a native of Texas, won state championships in Texas high school football and is instantly accepted in every high school in the state.
His last class at SMU is 100 percent Texas signees, which is the first time in school history that’s happened. The results on the field are starting to show. Going into Friday night’s game against Tulsa, the Mustangs could become bowl eligible in the eighth game of the year.
Expect a tough fight, though. SMU has gotten alumni together like Eric Dickerson, Craig James and others to do whatever has to be done to keep Morris in charge of the Mustangs. The boosters have the resources to top any offer made by any other school in the country (their banking school is one of the largest in the country, so, yeah, money is kinda their thing).
Morris put together the offense Clemson has used to reach the national title game two years in a row. He was also the second choice at Texas Tech (they hired Kliff Kingsbury) and Ohio State (they hired Urban Meyer).
The groundwork has been laid for a wild, wild crazy year of coaching movement, especially in the SEC.
Possible SEC openings
• Arkansas: Bret Bielema is 10-26 in the SEC at four and a half years into his tenure with the Hogs. Sitting at 2-5 overall and 0-4 in the SEC, the Razorbacks will have a shot at a win Saturday as Ole Miss is viewed as being in total disarray. Realistically, this team is going to have to catch a team asleep (or in a coma) to make a bowl game this year. Luckily he’s at Arkansas otherwise he would have been gone two years ago.
Morris would be a dream candidate in Fayetteville. He could be the one person to bring back the Texas recruiting that has dropped off dramatically the last 10 years. He has an offensive style that is geared to take advantage of what players he has and doesn’t try to fit players to his system.
• Ole Miss: Matt Luke was named the interim coach and not the permanent coach for a reason. They will be in the hunt for a new coach this year and it will be intense.
In Oxford, Morris is so attractive for the same reasons as Arkansas. The Rebels’ third largest booster club is in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. They have a large, large percentage of students from Texas.
• Texas A&M: Kevin Sumlin was probably dismissed by many in the Aggie Nation back in September when he lost the opening game to UCLA, blowing a huge lead. Since then, he’s won almost every game, losing only to Alabama.
Quite frankly, Morris’ availability may be what forces them to pull the trigger if they are convinced they would be better with him than Sumlin. Tom Herman at Houston probably caused two coaches to be fired last year in Les Miles at LSU and Charlie Strong at Texas.
Morris graduated from A&M in 1992 with a math degree, but he didn’t play there, although once an Aggie always an Aggie.
• Tennessee: It’s almost a foregone conclusion that Butch Jones is not going to be back in Knoxville next season, although it’s still 50-50 he makes it to the end of the year.
Many Vol fans are still thinking they are going to land Jon Gruden. The rest think they will get Chip Lindsey. But it’s likely Morris’ name will pop up somewhere in the search.
Those are just the schools in the SEC. It’s not exactly a guarantee that Morris wants to be jump into that deep water that is filled with bloodthirsty sharks.
But it’s close to a guarantee he’ll have the opportunity to say no in a couple of months.