Five blockbuster candidates to be the next head coach at Auburn

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Quickly following the hiring of a new AD, Auburn has parted ways with Brian Harsin in just his second season with the team. If you ask me, it’s a move that’s overdue. Coaches don’t get a very long leash in the SEC, especially at a place like Auburn, which expects to be one of the top teams in the country year in and year out. That hasn’t been the case as of late, but make no mistake about it, Auburn remains one of the best jobs for a head coach in college football, and they will be shooting for the stars in this hiring process.

Here are five guys I expect will be on their radar.

Deion Sanders

As far as the X’s and O’s, I’m not sure anyone knows if Deion Sanders is ready to take over a major college football program, but his success at Jackson State cannot be ignored. Eventually, someone is going to hand him the keys to their program, and I imagine it will either turn out to be a resounding success or a hilariously epic failure. I’m not sure Auburn wants to be the guinea pig, but it could be well worth the risk. It’s evident he can relate to players and recruit. That could be enough for Auburn to take the chance on Prime.

Mark Stoops

Mark Stoops has done an unbelievable job building up what was a lifeless Kentucky football program before he arrived. The Wildcats have several big wins this season over Florida and Mississippi State, but their blowout loss this past weekend against Tennessee could have Stoops taking a long look at his future with Kentucky. They were outclassed by the Vols, and it is always going to be extremely difficult for the Wildcats to get over the hump and win the SEC. Stoops has never once indicated that he is trying to leave, but if Auburn comes knocking at the end of the season, I have to think he would at least be open to the idea. This would be a slam dunk hire for a new Athletic Director.

Hugh Freeze

Freeze had a marvelous run at Ole Miss that was mired with controversy and eventually led to him being let go. However, time heals all wounds in college football, and it’s about time Freeze started receiving calls from the top programs in the country. We know he can recruit and develop talent. He’s done a wonderful job at Liberty; however, that could make a potential move to the SEC more complicated. To end last week, Freeze reportedly inked an extension with Liberty that could take him out of the running for any other jobs.

Matt Rhule

Rhule’s tenure in the NFL was brief and disappointing. He was let go by the Panthers a few weeks ago (to the dismay of most Falcons fans), but that doesn’t mean he can’t find success at the collegiate level again. Rhule quickly catapulted into the conversation of the best coaches in college football before the Panthers poached him from Baylor, and he may want to return to the place where he had so much success.

Lane Kiffin

Of all the coaches on this list, Kiffin would be #1 if I was Auburn. Despite some immaturity early in his coaching career, he’s become one of the most well-respected coaches in the NCAA, and his offensive mind is second to none. I’m not sure he would view Auburn as much of an upgrade over Ole Miss. Kiffin has built something pretty special so far in Oxford, and there’s no reason to believe he can’t have the Rebels competing for the College Football Playoff before long. However, Auburn may be able to entice him with a contract he cannot refuse.

Photo: John Byrum/Icon Sportswire

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