PASADENA, Cali. (CBSMiami) – As his team prepares to face a Florida State Seminoles juggernaut in the final BCS national championship game, Auburn Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn may be about to get a call about an NFL job.
According to CBSSports.com’s Jason LaCanfora, the Cleveland Browns are very interested in interviewing Malzahn for the team’s head coaching position. LaCanfora said the process of looking at candidates is still in the early stages, but Malzahn could be a top candidate, along with Vanderbilt’s James Franklin.
The Browns came close to hiring a college coach last season when they interviewed current Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly, who was coming out of Oregon at the time. Cleveland also interviewed now former Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien last year as well.
LaCanfora said that Malzahn’s coaching in the SEC and knocking off Alabama this year elevated his standing among the Browns’ front office. Vandy’s Franklin has coached in Tennessee, the home state of Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, and was a solid position coach at Green Bay as well.
LaCanfora said league sources expect Franklin to get consideration by other teams along with the Browns.
One coach currently in the NFL, New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, has ties to the Browns, but would reportedly have to “impress team president Joe Banner” during an interview to get consideration. The Patriots have given the Browns permission to speak to McDaniels.
However, while Kelly has enjoyed success as the coach of the Eagles in 2013; jumping from college football to the pros hasn’t always worked out for even some of the best coaches. Steve Spurrier, Nick Saban, Lou Holtz, and Dennis Erickson all failed in the NFL despite national championships in college.
Malzahn is considered an offensive genius in college football and has put together one of the most powerful running games in recent memory at Auburn. Malzahn has also utilized the spread offense to pass the ball all over the field.