When Joey Jones announced his resignation on Monday, it didn’t take long for candidates to start popping up on the internet. This appears to be a very intriguing job as the young South Alabama football program has all the pieces needed to win big in the Sun Belt.
There will be plenty of FCS head coaches as well as Power Five coordinators that will be interested. Neal Brown and Shawn Elliott have proven that in this league you can win big very quickly and South Alabama can attract talent as well as any program in this league.
After doing some research, here are five candidates to keep in mind as the South Alabama decision makers complete their search.
John Grass (Age 49)
The head coach at Jacksonville State has gone 43-7 in four years at the FCS level and has taken the Gamecocks to the playoffs each season. Grass has spent his entire career coaching in the state of Alabama serving as a high school coach at multiple schools. Former Jacksonville State head coach Bill Clark made a move to UAB and his former offensive coordinator Grass moving up to South Alabama to join him in the FBS ranks would make a lot of sense.
Rhett Lashlee (Age 34)
The Arkansas native played for Gus Malzahn in high school before working under him as a graduate assistant then offensive coordinator at both Arkansas State and Auburn. After the 2016 season, Lashlee finally broke off the Malzahn tree as Randy Edsall brought him on to run the offense at UConn. In his first year, the Huskies are 68th in offense per S&P+ as UConn has been able to consistently move the ball against AAC competition. If he’s not interested in this job, Arkansas State may come calling whenever Blake Anderson leaves.
Will Hall (Age 37)
In his first year in the FBS as a coordinator, Hall has done a great job with the UL-Lafayette offense as the Cajuns currently sit at 44th per S&P+. The Cajuns have scored 40 or more points three times this season and Hall has had to do it with multiple quarterbacks, plus the Cajuns have been battling the injury bug all season. The former Division II head coach has Alabama ties as he played college ball at North Alabama as well as serving as the head coach at West Alabama. As a head coach, Hall compiled a 56-20 record.
Mario Cristobal (Age 47)
The Oregon offensive coordinator has an offensive line background and worked on the Alabama staff from 2013-2016. The former FIU head coach went 27-47 taking the Panthers to their only two bowl games in program history. Cristobal is a great recruiter and should consistently pull in the best classes in the Sun Belt to Mobile if he were to take the job.
Steve Campbell (Age 51)
The Central Arkansas head coach is in his fourth season as the head man in Conway and has the Bears in the playoffs with a legit shot to bring home a title this December. The Troy alum won a Division II title at Delta State in 2000 as well as spending a decade as a junior college head coach at Mississippi Gulf Coast. With Campbell, South Alabama should be able to continue their excellent junior college recruiting.