One major Power 5 college football head coaching job could be filled by the weekend as LSU reportedly has narrowed its pool of candidates to Baylor's Dave Aranda, Louisiana's Billy Napier and Iowa State's Matt Campbell to replace Ed Orgeron – who may or may not coach LSU in a bowl game if it qualifies for one (not likely). An announcement on the new coach could come shortly after the Tigers' regular-season finale Saturday vs. Texas A&M. SportsLine offers updated odds on the next LSU coach.
Aranda has to be considered the favorite as the 45-year-old is the only one of the three candidates with ties to LSU as he was the defensive coordinator there from 2016-19 before getting his first head coaching job at Baylor.
The Bears were 2-7 in Aranda's first season but have improved to 9-2 this year and would play in the Big 12 Championship Game with a victory Saturday vs. Texas Tech and an Oklahoma loss to Oklahoma State. If Oklahoma and Baylor both lose, Baylor would get the bid by virtue of its head-to-head win over the Sooners.
LSU may have to act fast on Aranda because USC and Washington both reportedly also have their eyes on him. He's from California. While Aranda's ties to Orgeron might not be seen as a positive, Aranda has not been named in the NCAA's ongoing investigation of the football program. Poor Baylor back in April lost one of the best women's basketball coaches on the planet, Kim Mulkey, also to LSU. Another reason to get a coach hired ASAP is to salvage some of the 2022 recruiting class.
As for Napier, it now seems his time at Louisiana is almost up. He might be the top choice at Florida if the school can't coax Bob Stoops back to the sideline, and Virginia Tech also wants Napier. There are multiple unconfirmed reports that UF already has reached out to Napier. He was asked Monday whether he or his agent had been contacted about any openings.
"I just don't know if it's right to be talking about all these things publicly, but, I mean, reality is, you know, outside of the first year every year that I've been here you get contacted about, you know, other schools and their interest and those types of things," Napier said. "I think the big thing is it's part of the profession, it's part of being a part of a team that's had some success, and certainly I'm a part of the team."
Napier is 38-12 in his four years at UL, including four Sun Belt West Division titles. LSU officials are a tad arrogant when it comes to little brother Louisiana, so that may be why Napier won't be the choice.
Campbell also could be in at Florida and USC, but as we mentioned in Monday's Florida coach odds story, Campbell may prefer to stay put until either Notre Dame or Ohio State comes open. The Los Angeles Times reported today that USC is very interested in Campbell if it can't get Cincinnati's Luke Fickell.
Via SportsLine oddsmakers: Who will be the next full-time LSU football coach?
- Dave Aranda Even
- Billy Napier +250
- Matt Campbell +500
- Other +1000
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