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South Alabama opening draws immediate candidates, interest

Another head coaching job with good resources, a gleaming new stadium and in a football-crazed state with a good recruiting base suddenly is open.

South Alabama is parting ways with third-year coach Steve Campbell, as first reported by ESPN's Adam Rittenberg and confirmed to FootballScoop.com.

After beginning the year with tremendous promise in a win at Southern Miss (that subsequently prompted the Golden Eagles to make a change), South Alabama limped through the remainder of its season to its present standing at 4-7. The four wins are the most of a single year in Campbell's run.

So where does South Alabama, which is using a search firm in the process, now turn?

For reasons noted above, the Jaguars' top spot already is drawing prominent interest from the Power-5 coaching ranks.

Indiana defensive coordinator Kane Wommack. Wommack's star continues to rise, especially on the heels of the Hoosiers' upset-win Saturday at Wisconsin. The Badgers, who opened the season with remarkable offensive performances in back-to-back wins, were limited to just six points in IU's 14-6 win. Plus, Wommack already has deep ties specifically at South Alabama – where he served on staff for two years as defensive coordinator – and throughout the region. Wommack finished his playing career at Southern Miss, got an early start in his coaching career at Jacksonville State in Alabama and also spent time at Ole Miss.

Alabama defensive backs coach Karl Scott. The Tide defense struggled early in the season but has regrouped down the stretch, and Scott's defensive backs have been overall much improved. Scott elicited some interest from Southern Miss during its search.

Tennessee assistant head coach/pass game coordinator Tee Martin. It was widely held that Martin could have secured this job the last time it was vacant, but Martin also was in the mix on some other opportunities and was still the play-caller at Southern Cal. He's a Mobile, Alabama, native who has remained beloved by his community. Martin went back to Rocky Top to try to help his alma mater, but that Tennessee program is scuffling and Martin remains an attractive candidate.

Notre Dame running game coordinator/running backs coach Lance Taylor. He's a Mt. Vernon, Alabama, native and a second-generation Alabama Crimson Tide player. His father, James, also played for legendary Tide coach Paul 'Bear' Bryant. Taylor's Alabama ties run deep; his masterful work with running backs is nationally known, especially after his previous stint at Stanford and now his work at second-ranked Notre Dame.

Jacksonville State head coach John Grass. In seven years atop the Gamecocks program, Grass has led Jacksonville State to consistent national success that has included a record run of five-straight Ohio Valley Conference championships.

Wofford head coach Josh Conklin. A former defensive coordinator in the ACC at Pittsburgh, as well as a one-time Tennessee assistant who also did strong work at The Citadel, Conklin has guided Wofford to consecutive FCS Playoffs appearances and a pair of Southern Conference titles, one shared and one outright league crown. He's a defensive whiz with an ability to evolve his offense to fit the needs of his personnel.

Ole Miss offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby. The Rebels' play-caller and former UCF OC continues to rise through the coaching ranks. He is considered at least "in the mix" among potential Vanderbilt candidates, and the Rebels' high-flying offense is turning heads nationally throughout college football.

Other candidates certainly could emerge, but these four names got immediate traction in the past 48 hours as it became clear South Alabama intended to make a change atop its program.

The Jaguars' gleaming new football facility is a 25,000-seat stadium with club suites, luxury boxes and prominent placement next to South Alabama's training facilities and athletics offices. It just opened this fall after construction with a price-tag in the range of $75 million.

As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest coaching news.