Here are the names you're going to hear connected to the new opening at Auburn.
With Gene Chizik fired at Auburn, it's time to look at a few names that are going to be connected to the job. This list may not contain the eventual new head coach, but they're guys that Jay Jacobs and his committee are likely to look at as they go through the process.
To start, here is what Jacobs said in his release about who they're going to look at:
We will move as quickly as possible in our search for a new Head Coach, guided by the benchmarks [Auburn University] President [Jay] Gogue and I expect. Those benchmarks are a track record as a proven winner, a commitment to playing within the rules and student-athlete academic success.
That's boilerplate material right there, but it does sound like it rules out guys who haven't been head coaches before. We'll see.
The former Boss Hog is damaged goods at this point, but so is Auburn to a degree after firing its head coach two years after a national title and the revelation of yet another ongoing NCAA investigation. He has good history with the school as a former offensive coordinator, but he also has some bad history as one of the key figures in JetGate. Still, he took both of his previous two schools to the BCS, and he'd definitely take the job if offered. That can't be said right now of any of the other big names here.
There have been rumors going for a couple of weeks now that Auburn would target Fisher if the job came open. Our SBN FSU site Tomahawk Nation covered this one pretty well about a week ago. There aren't a whole lot of reasons for Jimbo to leave Tallahassee for this job, so Auburn would have to give him some. As in, around 5 million reasons per year.
The team won the national title with a transcendent player running Malzahn's offense, so why not try to rekindle the magic? Malzahn has done well in his year at Arkansas State, and he'll win the conference with a victory over Middle Tennessee next weekend. He's won everywhere he's been. He probably doesn't have the experience to be Auburn's first choice, though, so he'd have to wait for some others to turn it down if he truly wants the gig.
The Louisville head man is a great defensive mind who has only improved in each of his years with the Cardinals. He's also well known to be reluctant to leave, as he's grateful to UL for finally giving him his (overdue) chance at a head coaching job. If he's going to leave for an SEC job, it's more likely to be the one at Arkansas than at Auburn as he's a Natural State native.
Jones has made his name as a head coach by following in Brian Kelly's footsteps. He took over for Kelly at Central Michigan, where he won a bunch of games, and then he followed Kelly at Cincinnati, where he has won a bunch of games. He's already been connected to the Kentucky job, which he's reportedly turned down. However that may be just because he thinks he can get a better job than that. He should be able to given his track record, so he'll probably be one of those guys thrown in with just about every big opening. So, here is his obligatory mention.
The head man at Louisiana Tech is another one of those guys like Jones who will be connected to a lot of different jobs. Plus, he is from the Air Raid family of coaches that includes Mike Leach, Dana Holgorsen, and Kevin Sumlin. The last of those guys had a pretty good game against Nick Saban this year, as you may have heard. The thing that makes him interesting here is that his candidacy might depend on what Tommy Tuberville does. Dykes's father Spike was a legend at Texas Tech, so Sonny might be waiting to see if that job comes open this year should Tuberville jump to a place like Arkansas.
Taggart has quickly transformed Western Kentucky from basically a I-AA team into a solid I-A citizen. He even beat Kentucky and Malzahn's Arkansas State this year, and three of his four Sun Belt losses this year came by less than one score. Since things really got clicking for him in October of 2011, the only teams to beat him by double digits were LSU last year and Alabama this year. If AU is looking for an up-and-coming name, he could be the pick.