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Preparing for FBS membership, Jacksonville State job drawing national interest

The Gamecocks are going to join Conference-USA in 18 months, and their football opening is garnering serious attention across football.
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With its entire athletics department on the cusp of joining a new conference, and that move triggering an elevated profile specifically on the gridiron, Jacksonville State finds itself sifting through a trove of resumes that includes multiple high-profile names in college football.

The Gamecocks, seeking a new leader for the program after John Grass was forced to resign earlier this month, will join the rest of the school's athletics programs in transitioning to Conference-USA membership beginning with the 2023-24 seasons.

That means JSU football is moving up from its perch as a perennial Football Championship Subdivision playoffs participant into the sport's top level, Football Bowls Subdivision.

There's belief it can be a quick transition for the Gamecocks, especially after their win earlier this season at Florida State.

The school also carries a strong reputation for both its fiscal commitment to athletics and the program's facilities.

So what names are being mentioned in the mix for the JSU job as it readies for its final season at the FCS level?

Former University of Texas national championship-winning quarterback Major Applewhite is exploring the job, sources tell FootballScoop. Currently the offensive coordinator on Kane Wommack's first South Alabama staff, Applewhite also has experience as the University of Houston's head coach and Alabama's offensive coordinator under Nick Saban.

Additionally, Memphis defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre is another name sources tell FootballScoop is in the mix with the Gamecocks. A Miami, Florida, native who grew up in the Nashville suburbs, MacIntyre is a former Pac-12 Coach of the Year from his time at Colorado and owns extensive experience in the South with multiple stints at Ole Miss, Duke, UT-Martin and as Ryan Silverfield's defensive coordinator the past two seasons at Memphis.

Also working to be a factor in the search is Kevin Steele. Having worked with some of college football's biggest coaching stars across four decades of coaching, Steele is effectively a household name in the South. He owns stints at Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, LSU and Tennessee, among his most notable Power 5 posts, and he's also gained NFL experience from a four-season stretch with the Carolina Panthers.

After serving as Gus Malzahn's defensive coordinator at Auburn until Malzahn's firing a year ago, Steele nonetheless is collecting a fat paycheck right now from the University of Tennessee after landing a bizarre, $900,000 deal from the Vols and Phillip Fulmer prior to the regime change on Rocky Top that now has Josh Heupel the football coach and Danny White as athletics director.

A pair of University of Alabama-Birmingham assistant coaches also are believed in the mix, sources tell FootballScoop. Both UAB offensive coordinator Bryant Vincent and defensive coordinator David Reeves are among the pool of candidates for the Gamecocks.

Vincent's in his fourth season overseeing the Blazers' offensive in Bill Clark's program, and he's a part of the school's most successful and enduring stretch of winning in the Magic City. His 2018 offense set the program's single-season record with more than 5,600 yards' total offense, and the group averaged more than 28 points per game this year during a 7-5 regular season.

Reeves' defensive units haven't just helped the program find unprecedented success in C-USA, but they also have served as some of the best in college football the past few years. From 2018-20, Reeves' Blazers defenses all ranked in the top 10 nationally, and this year they allowed just 22 ppg.

Reeves was previously at Jacksonville State for a year alongside Clark. He's an Athens, Alabama, native who gained experience at the University of Alabama under Mike Shula and also coached at Southern Arkansas and UT-Martin.

With very strong inbound interest for the job, this one is not expected to be settled this week. It would not be surprising at all to see Jacksonville State emerge was a very well known new head coach when the dust settles. 

As always, we'll keep you posted with the latest news on The Scoop