Pretty quiet front on the search for LSU's next wide receiver's coach. Certainly more so than the defensive coordinator position. I suppose that's no surprise given the timing of the two searches, and the importance of the coordinator position versus receivers.
Which isn't to say that this job isn't important, particularly given the crossroads LSU's offense is in. There just isn't the urgency to have a name in place. Les Miles has a few more weeks until spring practice starts, and the recruiting cycle isn't really at a point where any targets at the position really need to be getting to know their coach.
That said, I'm told Miles had a list of about 10 names that he's started doing due diligence on. Here's what we know so far:
- Oregon' s Matt Lubick was one of the first calls, but he apparently prefers to stay on the West Coast. Lubick took the Oregon job in January 2013, and had also turned down Jim McElwain at Florida recently.
- Penn State's Josh Gattis and South Carolina's Steve Spurrier Jr. are also prominently in the mix. Not sure if there's a true pecking order per se, but there's definite interest on LSU's part.
- Georgia's Tony Ball interviewed on Wednesday. Ball has been at UGA since 2006, previously at Virginia Tech.
- Arkansas's Mike Smith, a New Orleans native, has also been vetted. Smith came on board with Bret Bielema after a long tenure at Kansas State.
- Tulane running backs coach David Johnson has also been linked to the job. Johnson was formerly the head coach at St. Aug high school before joining up with Curtis Johnson's staff.
- Other names that have been speculated on include Nebraska's Keith Williams, who just left the Green Wave to join Mike Riley in Lincoln, and Ted Gilmore of Wisconsin.
As usual with Les Miles, NFL and/or SEC experience is going to be a huge point, preferably coaching the position. Recruiting will also be a big focus.
Ball makes about $270,000 at Georgia, a number that LSU could certainly beat (Adam Henry was making $350 grand I believe), but also one that UGA could match as well. Talking to Georgia folks his reputation is mostly on the teaching side, and not so much on the recruiting. That doesn't seem exactly like what LSU would be looking for here, but I think it's a compromise the staff could live with. Henry was a pretty good recruiter, but he wasn't the lead on many of the Tigers best receiving prospects in recent years. With the talent readily available in the region, the receivers coach doesn't have to necessarily be a pedal-to-the-metal type in recruiting, provided he can evaluate talent and isn't a liability. Ball's Georgia units were pretty consistent over the years. Even when the Bulldogs haven't had a superstar like A.J. Green, they've generally had a pretty balanced group of guys that could beat you different ways. He also coached Ernest Wilford and Eddie Royal at Virginia Tech.
Smith isn't a sexy name but he has extensive ties in Texas, both Houston and Dallas. Arkansas' receivers haven't been anything special the last two seasons, but I'm also not sure coaching could change that much given what the staff inherited. The biggest feather in Smith's cap would be recruiting and developing Tyler Lockett at Kansas State. He hasn't landed any particularly big names at either K-State or Arkansas, but I don't think it's wrong to suggest that LSU chases different receiving targets than those programs.
Gattis probably hits most of the markers Miles is looking for, but he's also reportedly one of James Franklin's right-hand guys, so if it comes down to money, you'd think Penn State would match. Key difference between this situation and the Bob Shoop one, though, is that there isn't so much of a tight timetable for anybody to make a decision.
Gilmore intrigues me as well. He's progressed well through the ranks, moving from some lower-rung Power 5 schools to Nebraska, to the Lane Kiffin USC staff in 2011, to the Oakland Raiders. He also just took the Wisconsin job, but is reportedly only making about $200 grand.
Jabbar Juluke is popular with a lot of the message-board set, but he's never coached the position more. If LSU were going to hire another guy that's specifically a "Louisiana" recruiter, it'd more likely be David Johnson, who has a little more experience on the offensive side of the ball. Smith may be a New Orleans native, but he's largely known for recruiting in Texas.
But if the DC search taught me anything, it's to assume nothing. Most of the scuttlebutt around Kevin Steele through that search seemed to think it'd be an awkward fit hiring John Chavis' best friend to replace him, and here we are. So we'll see what happens.