With Matt Rhule set to take the Carolina Panthers job after one of the more impressive rebuilds in recent college football, one of the more attractive jobs in the Big 12 is now open.
For the past few weeks, the whisper in the profession has been that Baylor is likely to target Arkansas State's Blake Anderson, Louisiana-Lafayette's Billy Napier or former North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora if they go the external route. If they plan to promote from within, one would think Joey McGuire would be the guy.
The two other names we've heard mentioned as potential candidates are Seth Littrell and Hugh Freeze.
Anderson, a Baylor alum who played quarterback and wide receiver for the program in the late 80s, was a candidate for a few openings earlier in the coaching carousel. He is 47-30 as the head coach of the Red Wolves, and has won at least seven games each season since taking over, including back-to-back 8-win seasons in 2018 and 2019. He was also a strong candidate in Baylor's last search, so AD Mack Rhoades won't have to start from scratch here.
With their win last night, Napier led ULL to their best finish and first 11-win season in school history. In the past few days, Napier has publicly shot down interest in the Mississippi State head coaching job, but with his season now officially done and openings in both Waco and Starkville, it will be interesting to see where Napier's interest lies...especially considering he just signed his second contract extension in the span of a few months.
Fedora spent this past season as an analyst on the Texas staff, but has successful head coaching experience at both Southern Miss and UNC, where he went 34-19 and 45-43, respectively. Fedora, who previously coached a number of offensive positions for the program in the early-to-mid-90's, was connected to the job as a candidate back in 2007 when the school eventually hired Art Briles.
McGuire is a former high school head coach at Cedar Hill HS (TX), where he put together a 141-42 record with three state titles.
Many in the profession believe that Seth Littrell, who put together back-to-back 9-win seasons at North Texas before dropping to 4-8 this past fall, will also have a shot at the job.
Freeze is the most accomplished coach on this list, having led Ole Miss to two New Year's Six bowl games in 2014-15. He went 8-5 with a victory in the Cure Bowl this fall, which stands as the best season in the Flames' short history. Freeze has also been open about his Christian faith, which could factor in his favor at the Baptist school. Freeze was hired at Liberty by former Baylor AD Ian McCaw, and that connection -- plus Freeze's exit at Ole Miss -- could lead Rhoades to opt for a less controversial option.
Rhoades has known of this potential for quite some time. One would not expect this "search" to run long.
Stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest as more becomes clear on this one and more.