While Sunday's news that Florida had filled Urban Meyer's vacant spot with Texas Defensive Coordinator Will Muschamp didn't have a direct effect on the Commodores, it may have set the dominos into motion that could bring Gus Malzahn to Nashville.
As several outlets have reported, Malzahn - Auburn's Offensive Coordinator - has a standing seven-year offer to come coach at Vanderbilt at an estimated $3 million per year salary. The administration has also allegedly put an ultimatum at the tail end of their overture; the university expects to name their head coach on Monday.
This weekend has left Commodore fans and personnel twisting in the wind as official word looms on the horizon. Will Malzahn cash in his status as the country's hottest coordinator for a $21m payday in Nashville? Or will he spur the SEC's least prestigious football program for a chance to coach for a team that offers better recruiting, fan bases, facilities, and talent?
Current speculation has shifted to Muschamp's hiring at Florida, as well as Bobby Petrino's seven-year extension at Arkansas. Petrino and Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen had been considered two prime targets to take over the Gators in 2011. Suddenly, with Arkansas and Mississippi State's coaching slots secure, Vanderbilt once again emerged as the most important open position in the SEC.
However, the 'Dores are still far from a slam dunk to bring the Gus Bus to Nashville. While Vandy's offering more than almost any other competitor would, Malzahn must no doubt be concerned with the school's reputation as a "coach killer". While Malzahn has the opportunity to become a legend in middle Tennessee and throughout the SEC, having names like Widenhofer, Caldwell, and DiNardo are surely cause for concern.
Time will tell if Vanderbilt can woo a major commodity to take over a team with four wins in the past two seasons. We should know on Monday whether Malzahn or guys like Maryland's James Franklin or Stanford's Greg Roman will be pacing the sideline at Dudley Field in 2011. What we know now is that the guy packing his bags for Gainesville isn't coming from the southeast. As a result, Gus Malzahn might just be a Commodore yet.