As I am sure you are aware of by now, Mark Hudspeth was fired as Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Head Coach Sunday after seven seasons at the helm. At a press conference Sunday, UL AD Bryan Maggard cited the team’s play this season and declining financial support of the program among reasons for the decision.
A visualization of ULL's attendance issues leaving and coming back in the past decade. the 1* was a 40K+ game, and the 4* is because two of those were <10K pic.twitter.com/Xf8YlrMYQd
— Forgotten5 (@RememberF5) December 1, 2017
His final record at Louisiana-Lafayette was 28-38, 21-19 in the conference (51-38 if you include the vacated wins).
The Hudspeth era was a roller coaster ride from beginning to end. His tenure in the Bayou started out better than most Cajun fans could have imagined. Four straight nine-win seasons, four consecutive New Orleans Bowl victories.
With impressive facilities and fertile recruiting ground, UL was on track to be the alpha-dog of the Sun Belt. After years of middling results, the culture was turning around. The sky was the limit for Mark Hudspeth; then the NCAA came calling.
After an investigation in 2015, the NCAA found that assistant coach David Saunders violated NCAA rules by arranging fraudulent ACT scores for five prospects, among other violations. Cajun Football was forced to vacate wins from the 2011-2014 seasons.
Subsequently, UL has been bombarded by a variety of off-the-field controversies during the past three seasons:
- 13 players charged with criminal conspiracy to commit theft in a UL dorm in the Spring of 2017.
- UL student Landon Northcott said, “He [Hudspeth] had not really been as great of a coach off the field which is just as big of a part as on the field.”
- In April of 2017, a former Cajun Football player was accused and arrested for second-degree rape.
Mark Hudspeth came to Lafayette after seven impressive seasons at Division II North Alabama, where he racked up a 66-21 record, and two Gulf South Conference crowns. I don’t think he forgot how to coach suddenly; I think he will land on his feet somewhere.
After the 2015 sanctions came down, the program lost its momentum, and once it was gone, it was damn hard to regain it. It was time for a clean break at UL.
I am told Penn State DC Brent Pry, LSU OC Matt Canada, and former Florida OC Doug Nussmeier are the 3 top names in the running for UL-Lafayette Football coaching job.#ULLafayetteFootballCoachingJob
— Jeff Horchak (@horchak77) December 6, 2017
The speculation is already hot. Bruce Feldman tossed Brent Pry’s name out there today. I’ve heard Cajun fans toss around $1 million as a budget for their next head coach. If you include Matt Canada and Doug Nussmeier, you can see they are trying to make a big splash with their next hire. Those are high profile targets.
I don’t blame them. Louisiana-Lafayette is a well run athletic department on the whole. Their basketball programs are always competitive. Their baseball program is among the best in the country, and they have excellent facilities.
All it takes is the right coach to get them back to the at least the 2011-14 level of success, if not higher.
Let’s take a look at the leading candidates. I’m going to profile these three and toss out a couple more names for ya to chew on.
- Brent Pry – Penn State defensive coordinator – I don’t expect the coaching search to get past Brent Pry, plain and simple. It makes a ton of sense all around. Pry was the defensive coordinator for the Cajuns from 2002-06. The Nittany Lion defense is allowing only 15.5 points per game, good for 7th in the country.Pry had been previously linked with the Georgia Southern opening; he has interest in becoming a head coach somewhere for the right price. With Lunsford getting paid $650K, expect the Cajuns to go north of that to nail Pry down. If he does, it would be the third Penn State coach to leave this offseason.
- Matt Canada – LSU offensive coordinator – Word is that Matt Canada is looking to bail on LSU after one season as OC. If UL can’t nail down Pry, they may turn to Canada and try to convince him to relocate about an hour down I-10W to Lafayette. Do we call him Quebec in Cajun country?Le Canada gets paid $1.5 million annually and would have to pull a Gus Malzahn and take the pay reduction to get head coaching experience. He’s a creative coordinator with stops at a half dozen FBS schools. Canada is not a back fall-back option.
- Doug Nussmeier – ex-Florida offensive coordinator – Full disclosure, my father went to Florida, I watch a fair amount of Gator football. Their offense was an absolute disaster last season. I understand that he’s led an accomplished career and has a ton of experience. That said, anyone considering Doug Nussmeier to be a head coach in 2017 must be taking bath salts. That’s my only conclusion. Moving on.
- Broderick Fobbs – Grambling State Head Coach – Fobbs started his coaching career at Louisiana-Lafayette from 2000-02. He was a position coach at several different stops around the region including: Southern Miss, Northwestern State, and McNeese State before being named Grambling State Head Coach in 2014. Since then he’s compiled a record of 39-10 at Grambling with a sterling 33-2 conference record. He’s young (43), energetic, and successfull. The Cajuns could do a lot worse than Fobbs.
- Tim Rebowe – Nicholls State Head Coach – Coached at UL from 2004-14 in different capacities (LB/S) before being named Head Coach at Nicholls State. He took a team that went 3-8 in his first season and turned them into the 8-4 squad they are today. Rebowe is a talented recruiter. Mark Hudspeth once said that, “Tim Rebowe, I think, is the best recruiter in the state of Louisiana.” If the Cajuns are looking for a guy that will fit the culture, Rebowe could be your guy.
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