We all know there is a highly likely coaching change anticipated to happen at UK this off-season, but with eight games still on the schedule, it’s hard to forecast at this point which coaches could be available for Kentucky. There are names out there that have been brought up, but without knowing what other jobs will be available (specifically in our league) it’s too hard to tell if someone would be a realistic hire or not. The quality of UK’s next coaching hire all depends on what other schools UK will be competing against for a coach.
Last year, the nation’s top available job was Ohio State, but they had their sights set on Urban Meyer from the very beginning. There simply weren’t many other attractive places for aspiring head coaches to land a year ago, and as a result, Gus Malzahn ended up at Arkansas State and Mike Leach found himself in a mess at Washington State. I wouldn’t rule out either one of those coaches taking a look at another job after just one season at their current homes, but for UK to have a chance on either of those guys or others, it all depends on what other jobs are available, specifically in the SEC.
The fewer jobs available, the better UK’s chances are of pulling in someone big. If Arkansas State can get Gus Malzahn, then UK can get a big name too, if all the cards fall right. We already know Arkansas is one of those jobs in the SEC that UK will be up against. The last thing UK needs is another SEC job to open up in addition to Arkansas. Of course, one of those other coaches on the hot seat is Derek Dooley at Tennessee.
Yes, I’m suggesting we root for Tennessee to win this year. The Vols are 3-1, but they could very well fall to 3-5 after upcoming games at #5 Georgia, at #21 Mississippi State, vs #1 Alabama, and at #6 South Carolina. If the Vols losing streak continues against ranked opponents, they will have to win two out of three games against Troy, Missouri, and Vanderbilt to force another must-win vs. Kentucky to become bowl eligible. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but UK fans need to root really hard for Tennessee to win and make a bowl, so that Dooley will keep his job. Kentucky doesn’t want two other SEC jobs to open up this off-season, and especially not the Tennessee job.
Hopefully, Tennessee does well enough to position themselves in a bowl game well before the Kentucky game and Dooley keeps his job. If Dooley’s job is in question going into the UK game, then UK fans will be in a very awkward position. If it comes down to it at that point, do we really even want to beat Tennessee and give ourselves more competition in the off-season coaching carousel? I don’t even want to think about that scenario. I don’t suggest that any UK fan root against the blue and white vs. Tennessee, but we should all root for Tennessee to get to a comfortable number of wins well before playing Kentucky.