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LSU Tiger Head Coach Name Game: Independent and Group of Five

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One local name stands out

Syndication: The Daily Advertiser SCOTT CLAUSE/USA TODAY Network via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Earlier we looked at some NFL coaches who might be LSU head coaching candidates, and while some of those coaches are promising, it is clear that all signs suggest that the next Tiger coach will come from the college ranks.

Of all the G5 coaches the one that might resonate the most locally is ULL coach Billy Napier. His resume is impressive with multiple stops with Dabo Swinney and Nick Saban. He has experience as a play caller serving as an OC on multiple occasions and is a great recruiter, especially in north Louisiana. As the head coach at ULL he has yet to post a losing season and his team is bowl eligible for fourth straight season. The knocks? Not that many. Maybe only having a top-25 scoring offense over one season at ULL is food for thought. Napier also wouldn’t fit the name of a big name hire, at least nationally, but locally his value seems to be hire.

The other hot candidate is Cincinnati Luke Fickell. After leading the Bearcats to the Peach Bowl last season, he has UC sitting at No. 2 in the AP Poll and figures to have a spot in the inaugural CFP rankings next week. His Bearcat defenses have been a nightmare to play against, with his unit finishing in the top-ten in scoring defense in three of his first four seasons (currently they are third). At 48 years old, Fickell is relatively young by coaching standards. Fickell is by no means an up-and-coming candidate and has been courted by many teams looking to make a head coaching change. However, many indications are that he prefers to stay close to home in Ohio (in his 20 plus years of coaching he has only ever coached in the state of Ohio) and, fun fact, Louisiana isn’t particularly close to Ohio.

Notre Dame boss Brian Kelly seems to be another name that opens up when a job of LSU’s caliber opens up. Although Kelly and Notre Dame seem quite happy with each other, there is always the thought that Kelly would be interested in a new opportunity. Perhaps one with a higher ceiling than Notre Dame.

A G5 coach who also could be on the move is SMU coach Sonny Dykes. A Mike Leech disciple, Dykes has established the Mustangs as one of the elite offensive teams in the country. Dykes also has ties to Louisiana having coached at LA Tech amassing at 22-15 record over three seasons. He would also fall under the category of a retread having served as the head coach at Cal for four seasons, going an underwhelming 19-30 with his lone winning season being Jared Goff’s final year. He is also a Texas Tech grad and with that job opening up, Dykes would appear to be a front runner for that position.

Coaches who are from the area that have built up steady success such as Skip Holtz at LA Tech and Bill Clark at UAB have proven records of building successful programs but neither one would seem to be seriously in the mix for.

You also have a handful of G5 coaches who have quickly turned around programs but don’t have a proven record of success. UTSA’s Jeff Traylor and Marshall’s Charles Huff come to mind.

History says that any coach who has had consistent success outside of the P5 is going to have their name circulated for jobs within the P5. So while names such as Ken Niumatalolo of Navy, Kalani Sitake from BYU, Jeff Monken from Army, Toldeo’s Jason Candle, Blake Anderson from Utah State, and Troy Calhoun of Air Force will be circulated it’s doubtful many will get serious consideration for the LSU gig. Though a betting man would probably say Sitake would be the best bet out of that group.

We can save Gus Malzhan and Hugh Freeze for another day.

The last coach in the G5 that we will examine today is Costal Carolina’s Jamey Chadwell. Through three seasons Chadwell has consistently upped the programs level of play with the team currently sitting at 7-1 this season, with a top-20 offense and defense. Overall he is 26-18 through four seasons. He is one of the more dynamic offensive minds in college football and would figure to bring a super charge to the Tiger scoring unit. Concerns? Well, he has a very stable job and is probably in a position to be picky about his next job. Additionally, while he has had great success these past two seasons, his first two years at Costal he had a sub .500 record.

Ultimately, there are some G5 coaches who would likely make a strong candidate for the Tigers, it remains to be seen if they are big enough to land on Scott Woodward’s radar.