While more prominent head coaching jobs could open amid the fallout of college football’s rivalry weekend in the coming days, FOX Sports college football insider Bruce Feldman provided some significant updates about the two most prominent current openings — Texas A&M and Michigan State — on “Big Noon Kickoff” before Michigan and Ohio State faced off Saturday (noon ET on FOX and the FOX Sports App).
The Aggies, who fired Jimbo Fisher earlier this month and paid him a record buyout of over $75 million to do so, have assembled a list of promising candidates including Kansas’ Lance Liepold, Kansas State’s Chris Klieman, Kentucky’s Mark Stoops and former A&M defensive coordinator Mike Elko, currently the head coach at Duke.
But Feldman had another name is on that list, especially pending the result of “The Game” in Ann Arbor: Ohio State head coach Ryan Day.
“Day is 56-6 as a head coach, and he came within a field goal of knocking off [eventual national champion] Georgia in the College Football Playoff [last year],” Feldman said. “But keep in mind, the specter of back-to-back losses against hated archrival Michigan hangs heavy over Columbus. If they win here today and beat the Wolverines, I seriously doubt, with them in the playoff mix, that he would be taking that call. But the Aggies, I think, are optimistic that if [the Buckeyes] don’t win this game, he might be open to their pitch.”
“Big Noon Kickoff” panelist and FOX college football analyst Urban Meyer — Day’s predecessor and former boss at Ohio State — quickly pushed back on the idea live on air.
“I love you, Bruce, but no way,” Meyer said, laughing.
As for Michigan State, reports emerged Saturday that the Spartans have made current Oregon State head coach Jonathan Smith the top target in their months-long search after firing Mel Tucker in September due to sexual harassment allegations. Feldman confirmed the reports and the interest from Michigan State’s side, though there is not yet an agreement in place.
Texas A&M interested in Ohio State head coach Ryan Day?
“[Smith] has done a really amazing job breathing life back into his alma mater’s program over the last few years,” Feldman said. “He also knows it’s a very tricky time when you’ve got uncertainty for the Beavers in life after the Pac-12.
“I don’t think it’s any slam dunk that he makes this decision right now, but he is the one that [The Spartans] really want, and we’ll see where it goes this weekend.”
Oregon State already played Friday, losing 31-7 to in-state rival Oregon in Eugene. As Feldman alluded to, the Beavers’ future is murky as one of the two teams left behind in the dissolution of the Pac-12, which could influence Smith’s decision to whether to leave a place where he is a beloved figure as both a former star quarterback and successful head coach.
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