AUBURN, Ala. – St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher is one of the big names that keeps popping up in public forums when surmising who Auburn might consider to replace Gene Chizik.
Fisher’s son, Trent, is a former walk-on safety for the Tigers who earned a scholarship before this season and had a chance to shine in the final two games. Other than that, Jeff Fisher’s interest in the job is unknown.
Something to consider: rarely do successful NFL head coaches bolt for the not-so-greener pastures of college football, where salaries are lower but headaches are higher in terms of recruiting responsibilities, NCAA compliance commandments, and the like.
There are 106 currently-employed head coaches at Division I universities. Only a half-dozen have ever been the head man for a single NFL game.
And get this: even those six have not been very successful.
There are some pretty good college coaches in that company. Alabama’s Nick Saban, South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier, Oregon State’s Mike Riley and UCLA’s Jim Mora Jr. each lead top-20 programs. USC’s Lane Kiffin and Southern Methodist’s June Jones, solid in their own right, round out the list.
But the group’s combined NFL record is 100-156 – a 39 percent success clip. None individually has a winning percentage at the professional record.
As for Fisher? He would shake up the list completely. He’s 150-132-1 in 18 years coaching the Oilers, Titans and Rams, a man who has coached more days in his life in the Super Bowl (XXXIV) than he has in college football.
Throw in the fact his salary ($7 million) is double what Chizik made, and it’s not a stretch to call it a major upset if Auburn lured Fisher to the Plains.
For the record, ESPN’s Jon Gruden has rebuffed rumors he’s linked to Arkansas and Tennessee openings while serving as Monday Night Football color commentator. He’s 100-85 in 11 years as coach of the Raiders and Buccaneers, including a Super Bowl XXXVII victory.
Gruden has not coached since 2008, and did spend four years in the college ranks from 1986-89, including a two-year graduate assistant stint for the Volunteers.
GO PRO? NO, NO
The list of current Division I football coaches who struggled in the NFL
Jim Mora Jr., 32-34 (2004-06 Falcons, 2009 Seahawks)
June Jones, 22-36 (1994-96, Falcons)
Nick Saban, 15-17 (2005-06, Dolphins)
Mike Riley, 14-34 (1999-2001 Chargers)
Steve Spurrier, 12-20 (2002-03, Redskins)
Lane Kiffin, 5-15 (2007-08, Raiders)
Rumor mill spins: TCU’s Gary Patterson and Boise State’s Chris Petersen, who each have undefeated seasons to their names, were each reported to be the point of interest for Auburn, according to al.com Tuesday.
Both Patterson and Petersen subsequently and vehemently shot down those reports Tuesday.
Johnson decommits: Central Gwinnett (Ga.) linebacker Trey Johnson became the first high school recruit to withdraw his verbal commitment to Auburn University since the announcement of Gene Chizik’s firing, AuburnUndercover.com reported Tuesday.
Johnson was on hand in Columbus, Ohio for the Michigan-Ohio State game Saturday, taking a long look at the Buckeyes. Johnson has said he will also visit Florida this month and USC in January.
Ja’Quay Williams is a wide receiver prospect who spent the year at Fork Union Prep School (Va.) when he was academically ineligible for the Tigers. The Sandy Creek (Ga.) product was the first Auburn commit to officially open up his options, which he did Sunday.
Williams is still open to picking Auburn, but has added Texas A&M, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi State and Oklahoma State to his list, per ESPN.com.
On the road again: AuburnSports.com reported Tuesday that assistant head coach Trooper Taylor and running backs coach/recruiting coordinator Curtis Luper are set to hit the road to meet with current recruits, in the midst of rumors the NCAA is investigating Taylor’s and Luper’s recruiting methods.
Taylor was convening Tuesday at the football facilities with multiple current players, preceding an unofficial team meeting. Offensive line coach Jeff Grimes and secondary coach Willie Martinez were also seen around the building Tuesday.