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LSU is one of college football's golden jobs; who might make sense as next head coach?

Tons of big names and steady program-builders should get a look at replacing Ed Orgeron at LSU.
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It is, without doubt, one of the preeminent jobs in all of college football – and thus, in all of college athletics.

Louisiana State University is seeking a head coach, again, after agreeing to part ways with Ed Orgeron amidst chronic dysfunction and less than two years following the Tigers' 2019 tour de force resulting in the College Football Playoff championship.

Since that magical season, the Tigers are merely a game above .500 and, compounding matters, count double-digit assistant coaching changes, multiple suspensions of administrative personnel and ongoing allegations of turning blind eyes to heinous behaviors on campus as part of a Title IX probe.

Still, LSU is … LSU. In-state talent seeps from every bayou, every swamp and all through the city of New Orleans, among other locales.

Remember, too: three different coaches since 2001, Nick Saban, Les Miles and Orgeron, all have claimed a national title as Tiger King.

Orgeron is just two years into the six-year extension coming on the heels of that CFP title and including an annual salary worth more than $6 million and averaging nearly $7 million across the term of his deal. Sources confirmed to FootballScoop Sunday that Orgeron is expected receive almost all if not all of the remaining money on his reworked deal, somewhere between $15 and $20 million.

A move isn't cheap, but neither is languishing in mediocrity.

So perhaps who makes sense for LSU?

MEL TUCKER

What Tucker is doing at Michigan State has him percolating as a national coach of the year candidate. The Spartans are undefeated, coming off a nice road-win at Indiana and playing remarkably sound football on both sides of the ball.

Plus, Tucker comes with a brilliant, high-character reputation – something LSU very much needs right now in the wake of so many issues.

He's previously been an LSU assistant under Nick Saban, way back in 2000, and he worked again for Saban at Alabama and also worked for Kirby Smart at Georgia.

In other words, Tucker knows and understands the Southeastern Conference – and he's been around some of the best coaches in college and pro football to shape his coaching philosophies and organizational methods.

JAMES FRANKLIN

Never mind that Franklin's Penn State squad dropped its first game of the season, ending an overall 10-game winning streak, Saturday at third-ranked Iowa. The Nittany Lions spent most of the day in control until an injury to their starting quarterback and still nearly found a way to win.

Franklin worked miracles at Vanderbilt, and he's pushed Penn State into upper-hand territory against virtually all of its rivals – save for Ohio State.

Franklin's charisma, recruiting prowess and ties throughout the Deep South, as well as SEC experience, make him an attractive candidate for the Tigers.

What remains to be seen in that regard is if a bidding war perhaps unfolds between the Tigers and USC Trojans – two blue-blood programs already seeking their next savior.

While Franklin is signed to a long-term pact with Penn State, his buyout already is down to approximately $4 million if he chooses to exit Happy Valley for another college post or NFL job.

BILLY NAPIER

Though Napier has turned down multiple SEC schools in recent coaching carousels, and had no interest in even speaking to his home state flagship school, the University of Tennessee, LSU is an altogether different type of potential phone call.

And Napier is a different element of coach for the LSU program; perhaps similar to where Nick Saban was when he took over at LSU prior to the 2000 season.

How so? Because he's built Louisiana into a stable program capable of going toe-to-toe with almost anyone in college football, similar if not a bit more impressive than Saban's early years at Toledo and Michigan State.

Additionally, just as Saban spent the early years of his career around some of the game's greatest minds, Napier has experience under Saban and Clemson's Dabo Swinney.

Auburn, Tennessee, South Carolina and Mississippi State are just a few of the schools known to have talked or researched Napier for their openings in recent years; Napier has even flat pulled out of contention for multiple of those posts.

This one seems different – especially with Napier already such a known commodity in Louisiana and well-regarded by the state's prep coaches.

JOE BRADY

The catalyst of LSU's 2019 title run as the program's offensive coordinator, Brady continues to be an ascendant star in the football world. Just 32, Brady now is guiding the offense of the NFL's Carolina Panthers – and helping rejuvenate the career of former USC standout and NFL Draft first-rounder Sam Darnold at quarterback.

With experience already at Penn State, LSU and the NFL, Brady owns a resumè that is deeper than his years.

The timing of the LSU move and the length of the NFL season – remember, this is the league's first year with a 17-game regular season and the Panthers likewise are, one-fourth through the season, on pace for playoff contention.

DAVE ARANDA

The Baylor coach helped LSU to that 2019 CFP national title, part of his staunch run in Baton Rouge as defensive coordinator of units that played ferocious, fast football and were dotted with myriad NFL prospects.

He has the Bears now 6-1 and soaring.

One key element about Aranda: he has many fans still in LSU athletics, folks who have said they'd welcome his return and loved Aranda's presence when he was in Baton Rouge.

LUKE FICKELL

He's on track to be a national coach of the year finalist, if not perhaps its runaway winner. Frankly, Fickell (and former defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman) are incredibly responsible for Cincinnati's pending elevation to Big 12 membership and Power 5 status.

Fickell is going to be in the mix for multiple posts, and he's turned down big opportunities already in recent years – most notably Michigan State.

Fickell's buyout, should he choose to leave the Bearcats' program, is a modest $3.5 million, after decreasing by $500,000 as of Jan. 1, 2021.

LANE KIFFIN

Nobody is saying that Kiffin is looking to bolt The Grove at a moment's notice, but there are a few jobs out there that always can make a coach with a good job listen to a potential opportunity about a better one. This is one of those instances.

And Kiffin's recruiting and developing players quite well at Ole Miss, getting his quarterback, Matt Corral, back into the national conversation with Saturday's thrilling, 52-51 win against Arkansas.

Kiffin's evolution and his big-time experience – head coach at USC and Tennessee, as well as FAU and now Ole Miss, plus the NFL's Raiders as well his help leading Alabama to a national title as its offensive coordinator – make him an impossible candidate to ignore in this situation – and perhaps one or two other possible market movers that as of yet may still unfold this fall.

As always stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest coaching news. And check out our special LSU coaching candidates edition podcast below.

As a reminder, the FootballScoop podcast is available on Apple, Spotify, Amazon, iHeart and....well you'll find it.