Rowing the boat to the SEC? P.J. Fleck named as potential option for 2 programs
Arkansas and South Carolina are a pair of SEC programs that have found themselves miles away from the success it enjoyed in past years. The Razorbacks haven’t been able to recapture the magic of 8 years ago, when Bobby Petrino had them ranked in the top 5 after an affair with a female member of the athletics department led to his dismissal. Meanwhile, the Gamecocks are just 6 years removed from the 3rd of 3 11-2 seasons.
Could either school look north to Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck—who has the Golden Gophers at No. 13 and potentially in line for a spot in the College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday? According to Minneapolis Star-Tribune beat writer Megan Ryan, that could be a possibility.
After a modestly successful 3rd year at SMU, Chad Morris was hired as Bret Bielema’s replacement in Fayetteville. Since taking the role, he went 2-10 in 2018 and is currently at 2-6. To add to the situation, he’s yet to win an SEC game.
Meanwhile, in Columbia, following marks of 6-7, 9-4 and 7-6, along with a 1-2 bowl record, Will Muschamp’s group this year has been an enigma, to say the least. While its biggest win is against No. 8 Georgia, despite hanging with No. 6 Florida and staying decently competitive for a few minutes against No. 2 Alabama, it’s lost to North Carolina, Tennessee and Missouri to sit at 3-5.
But the two men’s buyouts, and the possibilty of Fleck receiving a massive pay raise, could make it difficult for either program to bring him in.
Morris will be owed 70% of his remaining contract, or $9.8 million, if fired “without cause” by the end of the season. Meanwhile, Muschamp’s buyout would be an eye-popping $18.6 million if the program decides to show him the door following the last day of this year.
Ryan brings up a 3rd possibility: USC. Despite a 4-1 mark in the Pac-12 and a 37-20 career record, Clay Helton is an underwhelming 5-3 this year and just 10-10 over the past two seasons.
While Fleck in the SEC is simply speculation, he’ll at least land on several programs’ lists, or will get a nice bump in pay from his current employer, before it’s all said and done.