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LSU's Spin on the Coaching Carousel

We still calling it Silly Season, or has FlightAware actually branded this time of year?

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Well, the regular season has kindasorta officially ended, and that means it's coach firin'/hirin' season, with quite a few high-profile jobs already in play -- Florida, Michigan, Nebraska -- and possibly a few other shoes to drop still (call it a feeling but keep an eye on Brian Kelly and Notre Dame).

LSU has had its own brush with the coaching carousel as of late -- and no, I'm not talking about Les Miles and Michigan, because NO.



No! Shut up! No. Not happening.

We'll get to Michigan later -- it's a remarkable case study in the downfall of a legendary program with every resource available due to a bizarre combination of pride, arrogance, greed and a stunning lack of self-awareness.

But for the time being, let's talk about Frank Wilson. LSU's recruiting coordinator and running backs coach was a notable finalist for the Troy job, and truthfully, I fully expected to  him to get it after talking to a source last week. The job wound up going to Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown, which makes sense, as he was the Trojans coordinator during their best years under Larry Blakeney in the mid-aughts.

But the reality is that LSU fans do need to prepare for the day that Wilson leaves. I don't suspect it will be this year, but it will eventually. He's easily the most or second-most valuable member of Miles' staff, a dynamite recruiter and a damn fine coach. Personally, I'd love to keep him at LSU for a long time and even see him as the head coach one day. But the reality is that the right head coaching job will attract him sooner or later. Honestly, if he is ever going to have a shot at the big chair here, he's going to have to go out and prove himself first anyway.

That said, LSU is still one of the nation's top programs, and one that pays its coaches well. Any open position on the staff draws interest, and there would be a number of coaches that would love to try and fill Wilson's spot. Since I had already started working on a list anyway, here are a couple of names to know:

Burton Burns -- Alabama's running backs coach/recruiting coordinator was kind of the original Frank Wilson. He jumped from the head job at New Orleans' St. Augustine High School to Tommy Bowden's staff at Tulane. From there, he followed Bowden to Clemson, and was one of Nick Saban's first hires when he took over at Alabama. Since then he's been the point man on just about every Louisiana recruit that Alabama's been after, and he'd be the first name that most people would call for.

Would he be interested in a lateral move to Baton Rouge? Probably not. At this point all LSU can reasonably offer is a pay increase that Alabama would likely match, and a chance to be closer to a state he hasn't called home since the 1990s. He'll also turn 65 this offseason, meaning that he's a lot closer to the end of his career than the beginning, and making another lateral move even less attractive. Plus the Tigers would almost certainly want to replace Wilson with a similar coach on the younger side.

David Johnson -- running backs coach, Tulane. If Burns was Frank Wilson before Frank Wilson was Wilson, Johnson is the newest version. He's another ex-St. Aug head coach who joined Curtis Johnson's Tulane staff two years ago. In his time in high school he coached former Tigers Tyrann Mathieu and Trai Turner and current players Jonah Austin and Leonard Fournette. At Tulane he, along with former NFL defensive back Lionel Washington, have done a fantastic job of combing the 504 and the surrounding parishes for a lot of second-tier recruits. The type of kids that used to end up at places like Southern Miss, TCU, Tulsa and even SEC schools like Ole Miss and Mississippi State. He'd be a natural follow-up to Wilson.

Jabbar Juluke -- running backs coach, Louisiana Tech. Juluke's name came up a lot in connection to LSU's special teams opening a year ago, but he doesn't really have much of a background there. Truthfully, he's mostly a defensive guy that only moved to offense when he arrived in Ruston after a very successful stint as the head coach at Edna Karr, where he coached the likes of Speedy Noil, Gerald Willis and LSU's Donnie Alexander. Like Wilson and Johnson, he's a New Orleans guy, but still well connected around the state, especially after spending the last two seasons in the I-20 corridor.

Derek Lewis -- tight ends coach, Florida (pending the whole Jim McElwain situation). Another Louisiana native, Lewis got his start as a grad assistant at Texas before stints at Minnesota and Florida. He's expressed interest in some LSU openings before, and is well connected with the Sonic Boom training facility in New Orleans. Lewis played a big role in pulling Willis to Florida last year, and despite his checkered freshman year, that's quite the recruiting coup.

Reed Stringer -- tight ends coach/recruiting coordinator, UL-Lafayette. A former Mississippi State GA that followed Mark Hudspeth to Lafayette, Stringer has developed a reputation as an organized, young go-getter, which very much fits the profile of what you want in a recruiting coordinator. It's a position mostly built on organizational skills, the ability to build relationships and to understand the types of talents your program wants to get at different positions. I don't know that Stringer would necessarily be on the list, but he fits the profile, and much like Tulane, ULL has had success mining the second-tier of Louisiana recruits.

Louisiana ties are a big plus for obvious reasons for a job like Wilson's, but they're not necessarily a hard and fast prerequisite. A young, dynamic coach that's had success in multiple locations, or one with ties to one of LSU's major out-of-state talent centers like Houston, Dallas, Atlanta or South Florida, would be attractive as well. Steve Ensminger, Brick Haley and Adam Henry are all pretty key Louisiana recruiters for LSU as well, and a new coach could be brought up to speed.

Some other possible examples:

Robert Gillespie -- running backs coach, Tennessee. A former Florida running back, Gillespie has built a rep at a number of stops around the country, from South Carolina, to Oklahoma State, to West Virginia, and has pulled a lot of big name interest on Butch Jones' staff in Knoxville. He notably landed five-star running back Jalen Hurd last year. Even had Darrel Williams visit last year.

John Simon -- running backs coach, Southern Miss. Simon played running back in the NFL for Washington and Tennessee, and built a lot of relationships through his work with the AFCA and the NFL Players Association.

Jay Graham -- running backs coach, Florida State. Another former NFL player, Graham has worked around the south with stops at Tennessee and now in Tallahassee.

Pulling either Gillespie or Graham would be difficult, given that both UT and FSU have deep pockets and it's not like LSU's really offering a promotion. But both might jump at the chance to build even more ties in one of the top talent beds in the South. They fit the profile of the type of coach LSU could attract and would go after, so when the time does come for Wilson to move on, keep an eye out.

Anybody Smell Something Burning Up North?

Oy. Michigan. Bubbula. What are you doing here?

You're not getting Les. It's debatable whether you should even want him at this point, given his age and the amount of rebuilding needed in Ann Arbor, but he's not coming. Know how I know? Because you can't even agree on whether or not you want to ask him. In 2007, Lloyd Carr and his buddies were so determined to stop Les from succeeding him for whatever reason they've concocted in their heads, that they leaked rumors to Kirk Herbstreit to sabotage the deal. In 2010 they, amazingly, were still running the show, expecting Les to take the job on their terms. Now, two miserable failures in, if they still have enough say in this situation to actually fracture the Michigan leadership on the topic, Les isn't about to waste his time again.

Honestly, until some strong leadership emerges that can pick one coach and back him up, we're just going to keep coming back here again and again. A successful program requires every person involved pulling in the same direction. Michigan hasn't had that in a long time, for a lot of reasons.

The biggest problem here, is that Michigan doesn't understand what it is or what they are doing. You're not hiring a professor, a department head, a dean or a chancellor/president. You're hiring a football coach. Somebody that you want to represent your school, and lead a multi-million-dollar business in which success is defined by wins and losses. Period. They will not be successful until they realize that, and hire the best person to make those things happen. Everything else is a white noise distraction.

Amazingly, Michigan doesn't even seem to realize their biggest advantage in this situation: they're sitting on a massive pile of cash. You aren't marrying this person, you're hiring them to perform a service -- spending the money to bring in the best candidate seems like a pretty easy call, and yet the concept eludes the Leaders and the Best.

Is Jim Harbaugh interested? I don't know, but I bet there's a number that would make him interested. Figure it out. Hell, one of the best coaches in the entire country is sitting on the other side of the state in Mark D'Antonio. Would his first reaction be to tell Michigan to piss off? Probably. But large checks have a way of smoothing over bad feelings. And no matter how successful Michigan State is, they're still the little brother program here. Of course, big brother has to start acting like it.

Those are just two examples, but the mentality remains the same. The University of Michigan is still a Cadillac job, one that a lot of coaches would absolutely have interest in. But nobody wants to drive a Cadillac with a go-kart engine. Until Michigan realizes that it needs to identify the best coaches available, and pay big-time money to attract them, they will not find a big-time coach. And then we'll be back here again in five years.