Vanderbilt Commodores head coach James Franklin during the game against the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium. Vanderbilt won 14 to 10. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Browns high on Gus Malzahn, interested in James Franklin

There are several college football head coaches who look poised to make the jump to the NFL this season, especially since college coaches are having an easier time transitioning to the NFL. Bill O’Brien is a former New England Patriots offensive coordinator, and the Penn State Nittany Lions head coach is the biggest name on the college coaching circuit. However, he has been hired by the Houston Texans, so we can cross him off of the list. David Shaw and Kevin Sumlin will remain at their respective programs, so they are off the table as well. Art Briles? It seems like the Washington Redskins are the only team that would hire him if he decides to leave the Baylor Bears.

But the Cleveland Browns still have two college coaches on their shortlist, as CBS Sports’s Jason La Canfora reports Auburn Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn is a “top candidate” for the Browns head coaching position. The second name? Vanderbilt Commodores head coach James Franklin, who has been heavily-linked to NFL head coaching positions- watch closely for him. Franklin has also been linked as a potential replacement for O’Brien at Penn State, so stay tuned for that.

New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will interview with the Browns, and he is the favorite to land the job. Even though he had an awful stint as a head coach with the Denver Broncos, he has the most NFL experience of the three coaches on the Browns reported shortlist and is also familiar with Browns GM Michael Lombardi.

Per La Canfora, the Browns are expected to hire McDaniels, Malzahn, or Franklin so it looks like the list is down to those three. Malzahn is an especially intriguing name, because he’s done an incredible job of leading Auburn in his first season as their head coach. He’s really turned around the program, and it’s been an even bigger turn-around than the one Andy Reid has had with the Kansas City Chiefs in the NFL.

Tags: Auburn Tigers Cleveland Browns Football Gus Malzahn James Franklin Vanderbilt Commodores

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