Auburn’s search for Gus Malzahn’s replacement appears destined to stretch at least through the weekend.
That’s because the school’s leadership, as well as its search committee and the firm it is using to aid in the search, Parker Executive Search, have scheduled interviews throughout the weekend.
In addition to in-house candidate Kevin Steele, multiple sources confirm to FootballScoop that Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott and Louisiana head coach Billy Napier are slated to speak this weekend to Tigers’ officials.
Elliott is a new name among the mix of candidates for the Auburn job, vacant since the school’s decision to eat Malzahn’s $21.45 million buyout and begin anew last Sunday.
A former Clemson player and 2017 Broyles Award winner, Elliott’s long been considered a top coaching candidate who could have jumped to another opportunity in previous seasons. However, Elliott has been in the role of Clemson’s offensive coordinator – sharing the title from 2015-19 and outright since the onset of this season – for six consecutive years.
The No. 3 Tigers face No. 2 Notre Dame Saturday in the ACC Championship game in Charlotte, N.C. Elliott’s interview is set for Sunday.
Alabama’s replacement for Lane Kiffin as offensive coordinator, Sarkisian is a former head coach who’s engineering the greatest offensive this season in college football. Among teams with more than five games, Alabama leads the nation with its 49.5 point-per-game scoring average. Quarterback Mac Jones also has gone from Tua Tagovailoa’s backup to possible Heisman Trophy front-runner in less than a full season. Sarkisian also had measured success as head coach at both Southern Cal and Washington.
The Cajuns’ Napier has been among the hottest names in college football in each of the past two cycles. The former Furman University quarterback and Tennessee native interviewed earlier this month for the vacancy at South Carolina, before pulling out of consideration for that position. A year ago multiple Power-5 teams expressed interest in Napier, who this season guided Louisiana to a 9-1 regular season that included a win at Big 12 North Division champion Iowa State and a berth in what was scheduled to be Saturday’s SunBelt Conference championship.
That game was cancelled for COVID-19 reasons, which sources familiar with the contest said were linked to a single positive test among the Coastal Carolina defensive staff. The Cajuns and Chanticleers were declared co-champions, though Napier on social media asked for the contest to be rescheduled and still played at a later date.
Steele’s the in-house candidate who’s been the talk of SEC coaches this week in conversations with FootballScoop. Steele immediately went to work in trying to secure the Auburn job as Malzahn was being fired, lining up key support from both Auburn boosters and members of the Tigers’ search committee.