CFB Insider: Is Feleipe Franks an NFL QB? Will McElwain return to SEC? Better job: Arkansas or Mizzou?
Each week, Matt Hayes uses his sources around the country to bring you insider knowledge about what’s going on in and around the SEC.
This is what he’s hearing from coaches and NFL scouts ahead of Saturday’s SEC Championship Game …
The Book on Feleipe
Spoke to scouts this week about former Florida starting QB Feleipe Franks, and the breakdown isn’t what you’d think.
“Are you kidding? He has to stay (in college),” one scout told me. “What has he done to warrant any kind of Day 1 or Day 2 grade? He’s an unbelievable physical specimen, but he’s also an overwhelming project. You’re talking about a guy who, from game after game of tape, struggles with concepts (of the passing game).”
Another scout told me he doubted that Franks would be drafted. “If anything, a late-round guy or a free agent,” he said. “When you watch him in the early games before the injury, he hadn’t changed. He was the same quarterback.”
If that’s the case, and if Franks decides to stay in college football, where does he land?
He was committed to LSU before then-Florida coach Jim McElwain got him to flip to Florida. LSU has Myles Brennan returning next year as a projected leader going into spring practice and has 2 4-star high school recruits committed for the 2020 class.
Depending on who leaves for the NFL early, a few major programs could be in the market for a graduate transfer with experience. Among the group: LSU, Texas, Michigan, Oklahoma, Missouri and Washington State.
McElwain a possibility at Mizzou
A year after extending coach Barry Odom, Missouri is looking for a coach, and an intriguing possibility is former Florida coach Jim McElwain.
One industry source told me, “It’s absolutely a possibility. Mac made mistakes at Florida and probably deserved to be blown out, but there’s little doubt he’s a helluva coach. That Florida job is a tough job. I still believe Mac falls in that second chance category.”
Another industry source said Odom’s downfall began with the flirting with Louisville at the end of last season. It got worse when the Tigers began the season with a loss to Wyoming, and the 5 consecutive losses in the second half of the season – when Mizzou averaged 9.4 points per game and went 10 quarters without scoring a touchdown – ended it.
My thoughts: Mizzou is a wildly underrated job. A program with financial support and terrific facilities, sitting in the middle of the St. Louis-Kansas City-Chicago triangle. Mizzou has proven it can recruit in Texas and Florida, and with the right coach, can land recruiting classes to get back to the SEC Championship Game.
The “systemic” Hogs problem
Arkansas and Florida State, 2 attractive jobs of the past, are now being second-guessed by coaches looking to move, two industry sources told me.
The problem at FSU is the idea of Willie Taggart getting fired before the end of his 2nd season – after the mess he walked into.
At Arkansas, years of problems have led to what many coaches believe, according to one industry source, is a “systemic culture problem.”
In 5 of the past 8 years, Arkansas has won 4 games or fewer under John L. Smith (picking up Bobby Petrino’s mess), Bret Bielema and Chad Morris.
“We saw what Bret did at Wisconsin, and then it craters at Arkansas,” one industry source said. “That doesn’t have anything to do with the SEC/Big Ten argument. That guy can coach. Chad Morris started the turnaround at SMU, and looked lost at Arkansas. Those two didn’t forget how to coach.”
Another source told me Arkansas might have to turn to someone who understands the dynamics of the situation – and that’s why the administration has spoken to former Hogs coach Houston Nutt about the job.
Changing the offense — again
South Carolina is looking for an offensive coordinator after coach Will Muschamp demoted Bryan McClendon, and one industry source says the field will be limited.
“Who wants to go there and be out of a job in a year?” the source said. “Will is a hard guy to work for, much like Nick (Saban). He’s demanding – but some guys are OK with that.”
There’s no secret that Muschamp’s problems at Florida and South Carolina have been on the offensive side of the ball. He’s an elite defensive coach, and his teams have always been among the elite in the SEC.
The problem is offense, where he has tried multiple schemes – pro-style (Charlie Weis), power run misdirection (Brent Pease), spread (Kurt Roper) and spread option (McClendon) – with little success.
The industry source said because of the unique circumstances facing Muschamp at South Carolina, he might have to allow his new offensive coordinator to bring an offensive line coach with him. “You’re not taking that job, knowing it could be a 1-and-done deal,” the source said, “if you’re not comfortable with the guys around you.”