3. Mike Norvell, Memphis head coach
The 38-year old Norvell looks like the No. 1 candidate to make the jump out of the Group of 5 this year, with Florida State, Arkansas and now Missouri on his list of likely options. He’ll lead the Memphis Tigers into a second straight AAC Championship Game this weekend, with an 11-1 record this year and a real shot at earning the New Year’s Six bowl bid that comes out of the smaller conferences.
This year may well be as good as it gets at Memphis, with 12 or even 13 wins a possibility right now. He got a contract extension after the 2017 season, making him the highest-paid head coach outside the Power 5 conferences, but the Daily Memphian reported at the time that his buyout remained $500,000. That meager buyout will do absolutely nothing to keep the bigger school financial barbarians outside Norvell’s gate.
Norvell could very well stay at Memphis one more year, with an eye on a better opportunity to make the jump a year from now. But this may be the prime time to leave, as a candidate with multiple suitors to leverage against each other in a manner of opportunity that simply may not come twice. Ole Miss has to have an interest here, otherwise, they are negligent in their coaching search.