Hot Coaching Candidates (November 27, 2015)

In our preseason edition of College Football America 2015 Yearbook we examined the head coaches and assistant coaches that we felt had the best chance to move up the coaching ladder after the season. Now that we’re just a couple of weeks away from the end of the season, let’s take a look at how they’re doing. Plus, we’ll update the names we’ve added to the list and consider where each candidate might fit best.

As a reminder, here are the current coaching openings as of Nov. 23: UCF, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa State, ULM, Maryland, Miami (FL), Missouri, North Texas, South Carolina, Syracuse, USC and Virginia Tech.

From the Yearbook

Alabama's Smart
Alabama’s Smart

Kirby Smart, defensive coordinator, Alabama: SEC jobs are open, and good SEC jobs at that. Georgia and LSU may be open soon. If Smart doesn’t go anywhere this offseason well, then, I don’t know what to tell you. Maybe he just likes being the game’s highest-paid assistant, contending for national titles every year and waiting until Nick Saban retires so he can take over the program. You know, that’s not a bad plan, when you think about it.

Mark Hudspeth, head coach, Louisiana: He picked a bad year for an under-.500 season. Keep an eye on him if the job at Mississippi State comes open. He worked there before taking the UL job.

Lane Kiffin, offensive coordinator, Alabama: I think the time is right. There are several jobs out there that make sense. If I’m Kiffin, I’m looking for a job with lower pressure and good access to recruits. Inside the SEC that job might be Missouri. Outside the SEC that job might be UCF, a program with great facilities and access to Florida recruits.

Vance Bedford, defensive coordinator, Texas: I think he’ll get an interview or two but an average year in Texas means he’ll have a taller hill to climb to get a head-coaching job for 2016.

Pete Lembo, head coach, Ball State: He will be at BSU in 2016.

Beau Baldwin, head coach, Eastern Washington: Any of the Group of 5 jobs would be a good fit for his offensive schemes. UCF and North Texas, to me, have the most to offer and have the most need for someone like Baldwin.

Northern Illinois - Rod Carey
Northern Illinois’ Carey

Rod Carey, head coach, Northern Illinois: All this guy does is keep winning. I see the Syracuse opening as being a good place for him to land. He’s a coach with a steady hand and that program needs it.

Matt Campbell, head coach, Toledo: The Rockets put up a road win at Arkansas and a home win against Iowa State and won their first seven games before losing to Northern Illinois. In fact, I think Iowa State would be a great location for him, if the opportunity came his way. He’s young, connects with recruits and his style of offense plays well in the Big 12.

Dino Babers, head coach, Bowling Green : The Falcons will play in their second straight MAC title game under Babers. Larger programs will take notice. Illinois seems tailor-made for him. So does Missouri.

P.J. Fleck, head coach, Western Michigan: A recruiting machine, the Broncos missed a chance to beat NIU on the road. That would have been a big one. He may be a year away, but a school like Iowa State or Maryland might be willing to roll the dice.

Willie Fritz, head coach, Georgia Southern: The Eagles nearly beat Georgia on the road last weekend. He can coach anywhere and he can coach in any system. He’s proven that at GSU. Iowa State, Maryland, Syracuse and Virginia Tech feel like good fits for him.

Justin Fuente, head coach Memphis: Memphis wants to make him the highest-paid head coach in the Group of 5. Fuente hasn’t bitten yet. Perhaps that’s because he’s on everyone’s radar now, despite the losing streak. I see South Carolina, Missouri, Virginia Tech and Syracuse as good fits.

Assistants we’re tracking include Cincinnati OC Eddie Gran, Clemson DC Brent Venables, Louisville DC Todd Grantham, North Carolina DC Gene Chizik, TCU OC Doug Meacham, Notre Dame DC Brian VanGorder, Utah State OC Josh Heupel and Oregon OC Scott Frost. Venables will get some interviews. South Carolina feels like a possibility. So does Missouri and Miami (FL), though the latter really wants an experienced head coach. Meacham is going to get a few feelers this offseason. Iowa State would be a logical place. Meacham knows the conference and can help ISU recruit in Texas. VanGorder will get a few looks too. Just look at what he’s done with that banged-up Notre Dame defense. Syracuse feels like a good place for him.

Previous Updates to Hot Coaching Names

Bill Cubit, interim head coach, Illinois: Cubit doesn’t know if the Illini will give him the head-coaching job after filling in ably for Tim Beckman, who was fired a week before the season. The Illini need a win over Northwestern this weekend to get to a bowl game. I don’t think that’s the determining factor, though.

Matt Rhule, head coach, Temple: If I were Syracuse, I would call this guy the second I could get permission from the Owls. Virginia Tech would be a good landing spot, too.

Western Kentucky - Jeff Brohm
Western Kentucky’s Brohm

Jeff Brohm, head coach, Western Kentucky: A win over Marshall would polish off an undefeated Conference USA season and earn the Hilltoppers a berth in the league title game. It could also earn Brohm some interviews. Iowa State is a great location for his style of offense.

Tom Herman, head coach, Houston: The Cougars are trying to keep Herman to the tune of $3 million a year. I think Illinois will come calling, along with any other potential Big Ten opening. Virginia Tech and Syracuse might kick the tires, too. He’s going to be tough to keep.

Doc Holliday, head coach, Marshall: This guy should be getting interviews on his name alone. But with a 49-27 record with the Thundering Herd, he’s a proven success. He’s a West Virginia native, so a slide over to Virginia Tech seems logical.

Updates to Hot Coaching Names — Week 13

Les Miles: Once it’s confirmed that Miles is out at LSU, he instantly becomes a candidate for every job out there. But only big-boy jobs need apply. That means Miami (FL), South Carolina and USC.

Mark Richt, Georgia: Yes, he has a job. But if he’s fired next week there will be a huge line to Richt’s door, including Virginia Tech, Miami (FL) and USC. I think he’s a great fit for the Hokies.

FSU Football: Head Coach Jimbo Fisher
Florida State’s Fisher

Jimbo Fisher, head coach, Florida State: Because the LSU job may be open and because it is believed that the LSU boosters want Fisher. Nothing more.

Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State: All I will say is the last time the LSU job was open the Tigers hired Oklahoma State’s head coach (Les Miles). As it stands Gundy would be a great fit in LSU, South Carolina or USC. But he has to want to leave Stillwater, Okla., and I’m not sure the OSU alum wants to.

Lincoln Riley, Offensive Coordinator, Oklahoma: I think more than a few teams are just biding their time until they can get permission to talk with Riley, Iowa State being first and foremost. What Riley has done with that offense and quarterback Baker Mayfield has caught everyone’s eye.

Kendal Briles, Offensive Coordinator, Baylor: It might be too soon. Briles has only called plays for one year. But the last two assistants to leave Waco — Bowling Green’s Dino Babers and Tulsa’s Phillip Montgomery — have done all right and have proven Baylor’s way of doing things translates. North Texas would be a logical landing spot.

Ken Niumataolo, head coach, Navy: I know the triple option doesn’t always translate. But you can’t ignore what this guy has done at Navy. If he leads the Midshipmen to the American Athletic championship and the Group of 5 bowl berth he will get some interviews. Hawaii is the perfect spot for him. He’s a former Hawaii quarterback and he was once a graduate assistant coach on the islands.

Larry Fedora, Head Football Coach at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
North Carolina’s Fedora

Larry Fedora, head coach, North Carolina: If not for that inexplicable loss to South Carolina in the opener the Tar Heels would be undefeated. Fedora is doing great things with that UNC program. But it has to be a step up, and that means the SEC. Missouri would be a fine fit for him, if the Tigers were inclined.

Blake Anderson, head coach, Arkansas State: It seems like this job is always in flux, and thatʻs not a bad thing for the head coach. The last few ASU head coaches went on to bigger and better after just one season. That list includes Hugh Freeze (Ole Miss), Gus Malzahn (Auburn) and Bryan Harsin (Boise State). So the fact that Anderson has been there for two years has been a bonus. The Red Wolves are undefeated and eyeing a Sun Belt title. If that comes to pass I could see schools like Iowa State, North Texas, and Maryland taking a look. But if Larry Fedora leaves UNC, look for the Heels to go after Anderson, who was Fedoraʻs offensive coordinator at UNC and Southern Miss.

Matt Viator, head coach, McNeese State: The ULM job is open and the administration might choose to go with a coach that has Louisiana ties. Viator led McNeese State to an undefeated season and into the FCS playoffs. A jump to a Sun Belt team would be logical.

Joe Moglia, head coach, Coastal Carolina: The former TD Ameritrade CEO has taken the Chanticleers to a third straight postseason, and nearly had an undefeated regular season before losing to Liberty in the season finale. Moglia’s record at CC is 41-12. Any Group of 5 school should be interested in Moglia. But rumor has it in the wake of Scott Shafer’s firing that Moglia would be a good fit at Syracuse. Moglia is a New York native.


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