It is coming to that point in the college football season where head coaches are being fired and others are feeling the pressures of the hot seat. Mike Norvell’s name is now flying around as a possible candidate for high-profile jobs.
Norvell addressed the issue with his team Monday, quickly after his name emerged as a candidate for the Florida job that opened Sunday. He assured the team that he is focused on this season 100 percent.
That is the best thing for Norvell to say at this moment because he wants his team to continue to perform at a high level. But Novell should definitely weigh his options and move to an SEC program because it is the best move for his career.
This is Norvell’s second season as a head coach, but he has shown already that he can build a program and orchestrate a high-powered offense. Through almost two years at Memphis, he is 15-6 and has brought in the highest rated recruiting class in program history.
The Tigers finished 15th in the nation with 38.8 points per game last season, and they are eighth this season with 42.5. Defense has not been great for Norvell, but that can be overlooked because of the lack of talent and depth on that side of the ball.
This is the time to make the jump to a big program and compete at the highest level. He will be losing some of his top defenders after the season along with the best players on the team, Riley Ferguson and Anthony Miller.
It would not be smart for Norvell to wait around for another year or two for the “perfect” job to open up because of the players Memphis is losing. It is hard to maintain a high level of play after the absence of a quality quarterback and the talent that surrounds him.
The Tigers got lucky one after Paxton Lynch was drafted, but what are the chances of hitting on the lottery on three great quarterbacks in a row?
Norvell has led Memphis to a 7-1 record and a No. 22 ranking this season with only one true recruiting class. He has been able to snatch up prospects by selling Memphis.
Once he makes the jump to an SEC program, he will be able to recruit national top 10 or top five classes each year. He will be selling a team like Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas, etc.
His buyout, if he leaves for another team, is only $500,000. Any SEC program would have no problem paying that as well as rise his salary significantly. Eleven of the 14 coaches to start the 2017 season were set to make al least a million dollars more than Norvell.
Ole Miss is the only school in the SEC that does not pay their current coach more than Norvell makes now, but Matt Luke is an interim while they find a more permanent head coach.
Jim McElwain was fired Sunday to kick off the coaching carousel, and Florida needs a coach who can help their struggling offense. The Gators have tons of talent on the defensive side of the ball, but they cannot score — Norvell would help that team immediately.
Butch Jones is on the hot seat in Tennessee, and I have no idea how he still has a job because his seat has been on fire since the blowout to Georgia. Fans are planning to #emptyNeyland to boycott their next home game. That job will be open, and Norvell should get a look from the team across the state.
Ole Miss is also a job that Norvell could get a look at. The team down the road in Oxford, Mississippi will require more building, but Hugh Freeze took that program to a high level quickly. Norvell could do that same but without the escort services.
Other potential SEC openings include Arkansas, Texas A&M and Missouri. Bret Bielema and Kevin Sumlin’s jobs could depend on how they finish this season. Both coaches have been on the hot seat before and found ways to keep their jobs.
Texas A&M and Sumlin are not far removed from cracking the top-10 six straight years and could be a great job opening. Arkansas is not as good of a job, but still an SEC job with potential. Missouri is a bottom tier SEC job, and the one that Norvell should pass on if offered.
Head coach Mike Norvell leads the Tigers onto the field before a game last season. This year, the team hopes to rebuild the offense quarterback Riley Ferguson and star wide receiver Anthony Miller left holes in.