Could Illinois Interim Head Coach and former Clemson Defensive Coordinator Vic Koenning be bringing his high pressure defensive style to Auburn.
It's been 10 days since the announcement that Auburn Defensive Coordinator, Ted Roof would be leaving Auburn to join his mentor George O'Leary at Central Florida. In the interim, Offensive Coordinator Gus Malzahn has taken the head coaching job at Arkansas State and the search for two new Auburn Coordinators has given much fodder to message board rumors and gossip.
A fairly recent name to garner some serious attention for the DC job has been LSU Secondary Coach Ron Cooper. A former head coach at Louisville, Eastern Michigan, and Alabama A&M, Cooper served as Defensive Coordinator at Mississippi State in 2003 and as Asst Head Coach at South Carolina from 2004-2008.
Added to the mix this week, is a name that has been discussed in recent days by some of our members here at Track Em Tigers. On Thursday KoolBell mentioned the possibility of Illinois DC and interim Head Coach Vic Koenning. That idea might not be so far fetched. Koenning was passed over for the head coaching position after Ron Zook was fired at the end of a 6-6 season.
The Illini offense was atrocious the last half of the season with a 11 point per game scoring average. Yet Koenning's defense finished the season ranked fourth in the nation in pass defense. (And it's no secret that pass defense has been Auburn's biggest weakness the past couple of years.) In addition, the Illini were ranked 21st nationally in scoring defense and fished the regular season as the seventh best overall defense in the country.
While he was at Clemson between 2005-2007 his official Clemson bio began with the following quote:
"In just three short years, Vic Koenning has accomplished something no other Clemson defensive coordinator has accomplished in Tiger football history. Each of his first three defenses has finished in the top 25 in scoring, rushing, total, and pass efficiency defense each season. A top-25 final ranking in all four categories in the same year had been accomplished just twice prior to his arrival."
The most intriguing thing about Koenning though may be the statement he made when he thanked the fans for their support after declining an offer to remain on the staff of new Illinois Head Coach Tim Beckman. Koenning said he was grateful for the offer but he, "had other opportunities." Makes you wonder if one of those opportunities might be the DC job at Auburn?
While Koenning would be a great hire, most speculators have had Florida State's Mark Stoops as the front runner. However, the Tallahasse Democrat reported today that Stoops is not planning on leaving the Seminoles.
The picture is even less clear with the Offensive Coordinator position. Many felt like Malzahn protégé and Clemson Offensive Coordinator Chad Morris would be called on when Malzahn left. However, Morris has since been locked down by Clemson with a new $1.3 million dollar per year contract for six years.
Now the latest offensive coordinator rumor making the rounds is that Coach Chizik may consider hiring an NFL coach. I find that one hard to believe.
Most coaching carousel watchers feel like the new guy may be Southern Mississippi's OC, Blake Anderson. Last year published reports said he was the man Chizik was ready to hire had Gus left to take the Maryland or Vanderbilt jobs. Based on that thinking the smart money would have to be on Anderson.
However, he's now a candidate to be the new head coach at So. Miss. If he gets that job, look for Chizik to go after a coordinator with a philosophy that matches up close with the personnel that has been recruited the last three years - and not one that would be more in line with a pro style attack.
As of late Friday, some insiders believed Chizik was close to hiring a DC. An announcement was expected to come as early as the first of the week. That announcement could still come even with Stoops removing his name from consideration. And it could be Cooper or Koenning. On the other hand it could be a name that has not made the rounds through the rumor mill.
The OC hire though, may take a little longer. But hey there is one thing for certain about all the rumors ... Gene Chizik is the only one who really knows when and who the next Coordinators will be on the Plains.
So stay tuned.