With Kiffin gone, will Muschamp land at Tennessee?

Not too long after Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin had accepted the gig to replace Pete Carroll as head coach at USC, Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp’s name was being linked to the opening in Knoxville.

Muschamp, the coach-in-waiting in Austin, would seem to be an ideal fit as he was a Georgia grad and would be a high-energy guy that the Vols had in Kiffin.

But Muschamp chose to remain in Austin last offseason after Tennessee dismissed Phillip Fulmer, instead deciding to stay on the path of Mack Brown’s successor after interviewing at UT. Could one season change his outlook and decision? Exactly how long will Brown stay in Austin, and how long is Muschamp willing to wait before he decides to accept an overture from a top BCS-level school?

Perhaps the most difficult aspect about the Tennessee job is the recruiting — which is why the Kiffin hiring was such a slam dunk. In just one offseason, Kiffin was able to make a splash in the recruiting game, as he realized the head coach in Knoxville needed to recruit heavily outside of the state of Tennessee.

Muschamp wouldn’t have that recruiting disadvantage in Austin when Brown steps aside — one could build a successful program without even leaving the state of Texas to recruit.

But with Tennessee's strong 2009 class and another solid class in 2010, could Muschamp make the jump to Knoxville? Or is he content to bide his time and know that Texas’ top high school talent most always defaults to Austin, knowing that BCS appearances are all-too-common these days.

If Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton cannot get Muschamp to become Tennessee’s third head coach in as many seasons — just three weeks before national signing day — the following names could be on his wish list.

Kippy Brown, Tennessee wide receivers coach and interim head coach
David Cutcliffe, Duke head coach and former Tennessee offensive coordinator
Troy Calhoun, Air Force head coach who was a leading contender to replace Fulmer
Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State head coach

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