Auburn's wish list:
These are some names that should be on John Cohen's contact list for Auburn's next head coach:
Sitting Head Coaches:
Deion Sanders: Will Coach Prime leave Jackson State for Auburn? He doesn't need the money or the fame that comes with being the head coach in the SEC. Sanders would have no issue recruiting against Saban, Smart, Napier, or Kiffin. Would the Auburn brass be willing to give Prime the autonomy he needs?
Lane Kiffin: Current Mississippi head coach Lane Kiffin is the best fit for the Tigers. He runs an offense that the Auburn faithful would absolutely love, and can recruit both high school players and transfers. The question here is, does Kiffin want the drama or is he enjoying the peace of Oxford, Mississippi enough to stay?
Dan Lanning: Could a team from the south pillage Oregon again. Florida State took Willie Taggart and Miami took Mario Cristobal. Could Auburn go to the Pacific Northwest and take Dan Lanning? Much like Kiffin, Lanning might like how Oregon donors write checks and keep quiet.
Hugh Freeze: Freeze comes with baggage. Yes, he can coach, recruit and run a program. He was the most successful coach at Mississippi in 20 years when he was there. However, the Rebels had several NCAA violations under his watch and Freeze was caught calling escorts on his university-issued phone and lied about it. Those might not be forgivable indescretions.
Jamey Chadwell: The Coastal Carolina head coach is unfairly scrutinized for having never been a part of a Power Five staff. Chadwell has worked wonders in Myrtle Beach with a young program. The Chanticleers run a fun offense and Chadwell would not be afraid to recruit in the SEC.
Dave Arranda: Arranda is a longshot because he appears to be happy at Baylor. The former LSU defensive coordinator might not have a taste for the recruiting you have to do at Auburn. That said, you have to ask if you are Auburn because of the job he's done at Baylor.
Josh Heupel: John Cohen would have to sell this as a non-lateral move to Heupel. Both universities recruit Atlanta and have resources. Heupel is unlikely to leave Knoxville, but it is a call you have to make.
Sam Pittman: By all accounts and reports, Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman looks at Arkansas as a retirement job. That said, the former Georgia offensive line coach would do very well at Auburn.
Luke Fickell: Fickell would also do well at Auburn but might not want to take the job. With the College Football Playoff expanding and Cincinnati moving to the Big 12, Fickell has a route to the Playoff. Also, Fickell might be waiting for Ryan Day to move to the NFL so he can coach Ohio State.
PJ Fleck: Auburn is not likely to search for its next head coach outside of the southeast, but if they did, PJ Fleck would be great at Auburn. He'd be great in living rooms across the south. They love to run the football on The Plains, and that's what Fleck's offenses does best. How long until the schtick wears off though?
Mark Stoops: The current Kentucky head coach is interesting. The Wildcats are at their ceiling. Could the allure of winning a National Title be enough to lure Stoops away from Lexington? He has no issue recruiting with Smart and Saban and knows how to put together a program.
Kenny Dillingham: Oregon's current offensive coordinator worked at Auburn in the same capacity in 2019. He's young and runs an offense that would light up the score board. Does he have enough experience?
Jeff Grimes: If you've watched a Jeff Grimes offense either at BYU or Baylor, they are tough and physical in the trenches. Grimes has SEC ties having worked at LSU and Auburn as offensive line coach.
Antonio "Dell" McGee: Currently Georgia's run game coordinator, McGee is one of the best recruiters on the staff and has ties all over the state of Georgia from his time as a high school coach in the state. McGee also served as an analyst for the Tigers in 2013 when they played for a National Title.
Rodney Garner: Gardner currently serves as Tennessee's defensive line coach and is arugably their best recruiter. Gardner played at Auburn and spent 12 of his over 30 years in coaching at Auburn.
Pete Golding: The current Alabama defensive coordinator is also one of its best recruiters. If you are going to pluck from the Saban tree, pluck his best coordinator.
Travis Williams: Currently the defensive coordinator of UCF, Williams began his coaching career at Auburn as a graduate assistant in 2009. Williams also played for the Tigers and was one of Gus Malzahn's most trusted assistants.
Kevin Steele: Does the faction that wanted Steele to take over for Malzahn still exist? If so, this would be a good chance to get him in without all the drama. Steele might like the drama-free environment at Miami, however.