On Dec. 13, word broke that LSU general manager Austin Thomas had decided to head home to Tennessee to join Jeremy Pruitt's staff that he was building.
On Dec. 17, word broke that the deal wasn't the deal. For whatever reason, Thomas would not be joining the staff at Tennessee.
Twelve days later, word in the profession is that many SEC programs have had conversations with Thomas, wondering if it would be possible to bring Thomas in to strengthen their programs. Facilitating many of these conversations, we're told, is CAA (better known as Jimmy Sexton's firm - although Jimmy doesn't own the place). Yes, Thomas is one of the very few -- if not the only -- personnel men in college football who is represented at all, much less by CAA.
In asking around tonight, word is that although quite a number feel something could work, we hear Ole Miss is likely to be the fit. At this time we are told there is not an actionable offer on the table, but the sides have had significant discussions and more than one source tells FootballScoop there is an expectation a deal could be reached.
With that said, in addition to other suitors, there could be another complicating factor in play. While at LSU, the University received a waiver allowing Thomas to go on the road to recruit like an assistant coach (because defensive line coach Pete Jenkins could not do so). Thus, Thomas has directly recruited a number of prospects. If hired in a role other than a full-time assistant, some feel the Individual Associated with a Prospect ("IAWP") rule could come into play. Most neutral observers would say clearly this isn't within the intent of the rule. However, one could argue a strict read of the rule could apply. Presumably Ole Miss would seek clarification on this matter before pulling the trigger (as we had heard Tennessee did as well).
We don't believe Thomas is in a rush to make a decision, but if he chooses to go the college route (rather than NFL), it would make sense to get somewhere soon with a goal of acclimating with the staff as quickly as possible and with an eye towards closing out this recruiting class on a high note.
As always we'll keep you posted on The Scoop as this story develops.