2019-20 Coaching Discussion/Carousel

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Cincinnati, OH
Oh heck, I guess I know it's my responsibility to just list out a bunch of names to get this thing into high gear. Let's kinda go by category:

Power Five Head Coaches Who Might Leave For Illinois:
Justin Wilcox, Cal - Cal has enormous financial trouble, they would have a hard time paying up to keep Wilcox if a Lovie-sized offer came. Good DC at Wisky.

Potentially Appealing Power Five Head Coaches Who Might Get Fired:
Gus Malzahn, Auburn - If they're dumb enough to fire him, every open job in the country should be all over him. Elite coach in an impossible job.
Clay Helton, USC - I would probably pass.
Willie Taggart, Florida State - I would probably pass as well.
Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech - If it goes so bad this year that VT actually pulls the trigger, I would have significant doubts.

Mid-Major Coaches Who Would Probably Say No:
Mike Norvell, Memphis - Great resume, and has proven to have a great eye for assistants, which is key. Already makes a bunch of money, can be choosy.
Luke Fickell, Cincinnati - Seems like an inevitable Big Ten coach who has a Big Ten-ready staff. Has to be on any list, but will have many suitors.
Jeff Tedford, Fresno State - Older guy with a pretty comfortable job at his alma mater and no ties to the Midwest, but a heck of a coach.

(For completeness, I'd say Dana Holgorsen, Josh Heupel, Bryan Harsin and Kalani Sitake are so certain to say no they aren't worth listing)

Triple Option Guys
Jeff Monken, Army - The best choice and if you don't agree you're wrong.
Paul Johnson, Retread - Also had a ton of success!
Ken Niumatalolo, Navy - Also had a ton of success!
Brian Bohannon, Kennesaw State - Also had a ton of success!
(Any of the four could be plausible candidates here, but Monken is so clearly the one likeliest to be a match for us that the others don't bear a ton of mention)

Mid-Major Coaches Likelier To Say Yes
MAC
Lance Leipold, Buffalo - D3 dynasty at UW-Whitewater, and has raised a moribund Buffalo program to unprecedented heights
Chris Creighton, Eastern Michigan - Also successful at several lower levels, and we've all seen what he's turned a near-death EMU program into
Jim McElwain, Central Michigan - Basically a retread from Florida, has a tough gig ahead of him at CMU
Tim Lester, Western Michigan - An Illinois native who has done okay with Fleck's players, but is a breakout candidate this year.
Jason Candle, Toledo - A record pretty indistinguishable from Campbell and Beckman. So which is he?

AAC
Willie Fritz, Tulane - Would need a big year to get in the picture, but he's won his way all the way up the HC ladder. A Jerry Kill-like resume. Older guy though.
Rod Carey, Temple - Better known for his success at Northern Illinois, Big Ten background, known to be itching for bigger things.
Sonny Dykes, SMU - Looks like a breakout candidate this year. Better at Cal than the record reflects. Good staff of big time Texas recruiters.

Sun Belt
Billy Napier, Louisiana-Lafayette - Served under both Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney, how many can say that? ULL might be real good this year.
Blake Anderson, Arkansas State - Nothing fancy, has just won there consistently now for several years.
Jake Spavital, Texas State - The Doogie Howser boy genius of college football is now 34! But looks like Texas State stinks, probably needs time

CUSA
Seth Littrell, North Texas - Lost Graham Harrell to USC, could they reunite if Clay Helton gets fired? Interesting to see how N. Texas does this year.
Bill Clark, UAB - A superhero for what he's done at a UAB program that gave itself the literal death penalty for two years. No local ties, but still, hire this man.
Skip Holtz, Louisiana Tech - Tech has been good under him, but I'd need them to be better to wash off the stink from his South Florida tenure.
Lane Kiffin, Florida Atlantic - Looks like they're bad again this year, and it's tough to take him seriously if he can't win at a gig like that.

Mountain West
Jay Norvell, Nevada - I thought he was a sleeper this year, strong Big Ten background, but after that Purdue upset they've wobbled. Will the big year materialize?
Craig Bohl, Wyoming - A terrific coach who has built a good program there after creating the monster at NDSU, but he's already 61.

Big Time Assistants Who Might Say No
Dave Aranda, DC, LSU - Just slaughtered the Iowa/MSU type offenses at Wisconsin. Already makes huge money. Is he a chalk-stained career DC type?
Mike Elko, DC, Texas A&M - Terrific at Wake Forest, Notre Dame, and TAMU. Also a big money possible career DC guy.
Brent Venables, DC, Clemson - Has turned down interest all over the place, I really think he probably is the career DC type. Also a total nutbar.
Pete Golding, DC, Alabama - Every Saban DC always ends up on these lists, but not sure why Golding would be appealing or a fit
Chip Long, OC, Notre Dame - Highly regarded offensive mind, former Illinois TE coach under Zook. I kinda think he'd say yes. Very young.
Tony Elliott, OC, Clemson - Reigning Broyles Award winner for best assistant nationally. Screams future HC. Why us?

Big Time Assistants Likelier To Say Yes
Graham Harrell, OC, USC - You hear buzz about him being a Lincoln Riley type. But he's stuck with an 18 year old an QB and might get fired. Would we dare?
Mike Tressel, DC, Michigan State - Jim's nephew. Been with Dantonio forever. Good recruiter, has stolen in-state kids from us.

Lower Level Coaches
Curt Mallory, Indiana State - Remember him? Former Illini DC, has a breakout candidate in FCS.
Brock Spack, Illinois State - Meh. The FCS ranks have been pretty thoroughly mined for talent in recent years.

NFL
Hard Pass

The Retread Bin
Todd Graham, ex-Arizona State - Been good instantly at four different stops, developed great assistants, and is still youngish. Also, everyone hates him.
Bret Bielema, ex-Arkansas - Was actually kinda good at Arkansas, and obviously great at Wisky. Swears he's never going back to college.
Bo Pelini, ex-Nebraska - Speaking of everyone hates him! Hasn't been very good at Youngstown State and Whitman would never hire him.
Steve Sarkisian, ex-USC - Current Bama OC. People kinda hate him too, no Midwest ties, and can he be trusted to behave himself?
Major Applewhite, ex-Houston - Did absolutely nothing wrong and recruited the heck out of Texas, though Houston is a pretty easy job.
Greg Schiano, ex-Rutgers - My feelings summed up by a White Stripes song: "I'm Lonely, But I Ain't That Lonely Yet"

Incredible list. From here, my wishlist (in no order)

  • Mike Norvell
    • Makes almost $2 million/year, would be very very expensive
  • Dave Aranda
    • See comments above
  • Lance Leipold
    • Strong Midwest ties, winning at a tough MAC location
  • Seth Littrell
    • Paid better than you would expect, not a lot of connections to Midwest
  • Billy Napier
    • ULL is going to be really really good this year
  • Craig Bohl
    • For those clamoring for another bite at 2011 Jerry Kill, this is absolutely your guy
The maybes...
  • Gus Malzahn
    • Is he really going to be fired? If yes, absolutely interested
  • Justin Wilcox
    • Cal seems to be going places this year, would they really let him go?
  • Chris Creighton
    • See last Saturday
  • Chip Long
    • Seems a little riskier, hasn't been around that long, but has a connection to the area
 
Incredible list. From here, my wishlist (in no order)

  • Mike Norvell
    • Makes almost $2 million/year, would be very very expensive
  • Dave Aranda
    • See comments above
  • Lance Leipold
    • Strong Midwest ties, winning at a tough MAC location
  • Seth Littrell
    • Paid better than you would expect, not a lot of connections to Midwest
  • Billy Napier
    • ULL is going to be really really good this year
  • Craig Bohl
    • For those clamoring for another bite at 2011 Jerry Kill, this is absolutely your guy
The maybes...
  • Gus Malzahn
    • Is he really going to be fired? If yes, absolutely interested
  • Justin Wilcox
    • Cal seems to be going places this year, would they really let him go?
  • Chris Creighton
    • See last Saturday
  • Chip Long
    • Seems a little riskier, hasn't been around that long, but has a connection to the area
I am not a huge Fan of Gus Malzahn. He has had great recruiting classes and hasn't done much (outside of the Newton Year $$$). I think that is a product of being in the SEC. As much as I don't like him, I do think he would succeed here.

I am a huge fan of Military Option football, but I dont want to see it here.

Am I the only one that would love to have Greg Schiano? Whats a harder job to get? U of I or Tennessee?
 
Iowa City
Herm Edwards was on ESPN radio this morning. I haven't paid a ton of attention, but ASU seemed to follow the model we set up with Lovie. NFL coach, and a heavy NFL staff to sell kids on prepping them for the next level. After listing to Herm talk, we had the right idea, but Lovie just isn't anywhere close to as charismatic. It's only 3 games for him, but I would be buying ASU stock after hearing him this morning.
 
Herm Edwards was on ESPN radio this morning. I haven't paid a ton of attention, but ASU seemed to follow the model we set up with Lovie. NFL coach, and a heavy NFL staff to sell kids on prepping them for the next level.
This isn't actually true, there is very little NFL experience on that staff, and very little past connection to Herm as well. The setup their AD laid out was one where Herm was to be explicitly the CEO, managing and getting the best out of what they felt at the time was a good staff around Todd Graham. An "innovative restructuring", they called it.

It sounded like TED talk management consultant Hinkie-ball nonsense to me at the time. And immediately after they made the move, both coordinators who were set to be "managed" by Herm left, Billy Napier took the head job at ULL, and Phil Bennett just walked away from coaching entirely.

But what ASU has assembled around Herm is the opposite of what Lovie has had at Illinois, it's a staff full of guys with deep college experience, with a lot of carry-over from Graham's staff even though the coordinators left. And an emphasis on recruiting which is showing early dividends. Too early to declare victory, and at 65 you wonder how long Herm's got, but it is not the disaster I predicted, and it's not the disaster Lovie has been with his cadre of personal loyalists without college credentials.
 
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Yes. For two reasons.

1. The harder you look at his Rutgers tenure, the less you see.
2. He knew about Sandusky, or has been very credibly accused of knowing at the very least. Hard pass on that alone, I do not want that stink on our University.
Jesus how did I forget about the Sandusky thing. But hey Penn State still loves Joe Pa.

I also am still in shock about the DC hiring. Shocked.
 
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The Transfer Portal
I am not a huge Fan of Gus Malzahn. He has had great recruiting classes and hasn't done much (outside of the Newton Year $$$). I think that is a product of being in the SEC. As much as I don't like him, I do think he would succeed here.

I am a huge fan of Military Option football, but I dont want to see it here.

Am I the only one that would love to have Greg Schiano? Whats a harder job to get? U of I or Tennessee?

I’m actually thinking of calling the cops and reporting this “meh on Malzahn but would love to have Schiano” post.
 
I get the idea that our D stinks and Lovie owns it. And losing to EMU at home is why we are talking about this. But honestly we are going to have to beat some "average" teams 35-34 or something like that. The D was not good going into this year, lost Beason and Roundtree, and the lost a couple more for the EMU game. I really think the O is going to have to score 35-40 points to beat a decent team this year. I think this loss was a lot more on RSmith than LSmith. Still, the rollover on the last drive was not ideal.
I see where you are coming from, but you cant let a less talented team score 30+ points on you. We shouldn't have to outscore Eastern Michigan. And when those big plays are a result of an individual getting beat/blown assignments, that means they are not coaching them up, or not getting talented enough players.
 
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Iowa City
This isn't actually true, there is very little NFL experience on that staff, and very little past connection to Herm as well. The setup their AD laid out was one where Herm was to be explicitly the CEO, managing and getting the best out of what they felt at the time was a good staff around Todd Graham. An "innovative restructuring", they called it.

It sounded like TED talk management consultant Hinkie-ball nonsense to me at the time. And immediately after they made the move, both coordinators who were set to be "managed" by Herm left, Billy Napier took the head job at ULL, and Phil Bennett just walked away from coaching entirely.

But what ASU has assembled around Herm is the opposite of what Lovie has had at Illinois, it's a staff full of guys with deep college experience, with a lot of carry-over from Graham's staff even though the coordinators left. And an emphasis on recruiting which is showing early dividends. Too early to declare victory, and at 65 you wonder how long Herm's got, but it is not the disaster I predicted, and it's not the disaster Lovie has been with his cadre of personal loyalists without college credentials.
Weird, I guess Herm was wrong when he discussed the NFL connections in his staff during the interview today.
 
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I’m actually thinking of calling the cops and reporting this “meh on Malzahn but would love to have Schiano” post.
Thanks for the misquote. I just dont like him. I dont like anyone who wears turtle necks and underwhelms with great recruiting classes. I also said I think he would be a great hire at Illinois. Lets be realistic. We have no chance of hiring Malzahn.
 
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Weird, I guess Herm was wrong when he discussed the NFL connections in his staff during the interview today.
I think more likely he was selling what the interviewer wanted to hear. Smart.

Is it a lie to say they have an "NFL connected" staff? Of course not, Herm Edwards is the head coach! That's a good sell for recruits when Herm Edwards is your head coach. They also have Antonio Pierce, Pro Bowler and Super Bowl winner, on the staff. Any time you've got a Super Bowl ring to show people, you do it.

But from the perspective of an AD, analyzing program building and staff construction strategies, ASU surrounded Herm with college football coaches who know how to teach college ball and recruit college players.
 
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Little Rock, Arkansas
The thing with the nepotism hire is whether Lovie’s son was hired BECAUSE he was Lovie’s son and not because of potential or experience yada yada yada.

I like to think of each person as an individual as opposed to their connections...at first anyway. Say a person with the exact same qualifications (or non-qualifications) was hired by Lovie but wasn’t his son, we would all be like “seems like a bad idea but MAYBE he is a hidden gem of a coach. The next young-guy-from-out-of-nowhere”. Then we would give him a year to sink or swim. If he fails, we hold Lovie responsible for a bad hire. If he succeeds we thank our stars we found him first.

So take that same cantidate and slap the label coach’s son on him. While it makes the “reason for hiring” a little more suspect, should we say no to a guy simply because of who his dad is? What if the next Urban Meyer is the coach’s son? We won’t know if we automatically disqualify him.

Now, I was against the nepotism hire 100%. But I can see Whitman basically telling Lovie, “you hire the staff you want, but I don’t like you hiring your under-qualified son. If you struggle on D this year, and don’t show progress, it will let me know his hiring was due to you being his dad, and not because he’s a good coach.”

It will then become one more evaluatable factor Whitman has on Lovie. I’m guessing it won’t turn out to be a positive one.
 
The thing with the nepotism hire is whether Lovie’s son was hired BECAUSE he was Lovie’s son and not because of potential or experience yada yada yada.

I like to think of each person as an individual as opposed to their connections...at first anyway. Say a person with the exact same qualifications (or non-qualifications) was hired by Lovie but wasn’t his son, we would all be like “seems like a bad idea but MAYBE he is a hidden gem of a coach. The next young-guy-from-out-of-nowhere”. Then we would give him a year to sink or swim. If he fails, we hold Lovie responsible for a bad hire. If he succeeds we thank our stars we found him first.

So take that same cantidate and slap the label coach’s son on him. While it makes the “reason for hiring” a little more suspect, should we say no to a guy simply because of who his dad is? What if the next Urban Meyer is the coach’s son? We won’t know if we automatically disqualify him.

Now, I was against the nepotism hire 100%. But I can see Whitman basically telling Lovie, “you hire the staff you want, but I don’t like you hiring your under-qualified son. If you struggle on D this year, and don’t show progress, it will let me know his hiring was due to you being his dad, and not because he’s a good coach.”

It will then become one more evaluatable factor Whitman has on Lovie. I’m guessing it won’t turn out to be a positive one.
So, worth saying as background, that the go-to move in these situations is for the powerful, influential head coach to use that influence to get their unqualified son a coaching job SOMEWHERE ELSE, at least at first. Send them out of the nest and make them prove themselves, in a plum situation with someone they trust. Steve Spurrier Jr, Shane Beamer, Skip Holtz, Brian Ferentz, same situation in all those cases. And then when Dad brings them in-house, they at least have some sort of a resume.

But the other thing is that if in March 2016 Lovie had brought in Miles as the LB coach on his staff from day 1, there would have been grumbling, sure, but you understand what the deal is, developing Miles is part of the package here. But what ended up happening was that Lovie had a disastrously bad defense through three seasons here, had a couple of open spots on the staff, including the DC, to try and shore that area of the ball up, and filled those slots with himself and his laughably unqualified kid. Just not taking the problem seriously or professionally at all.

And so at that point, to me, the relationship we have with Lovie Smith is crystal clear. There's no process of program development here, there's no broader strategic vision, this football team is just Lovie Smith's personal fiefdom. And I think Josh Whitman's and the fanbase's attitude toward that should be equally simple: if we win, great, if not, move along to someone who will take a more professional, industry standard approach.
 
Cincinnati, OH
I am not a huge Fan of Gus Malzahn. He has had great recruiting classes and hasn't done much (outside of the Newton Year $$$). I think that is a product of being in the SEC. As much as I don't like him, I do think he would succeed here.

I am a huge fan of Military Option football, but I dont want to see it here.

Am I the only one that would love to have Greg Schiano? Whats a harder job to get? U of I or Tennessee?

Newton was handful of years before Malzahn became HC. Comparison of recruiting success (one year behind) and team record (relative to SEC West) for Gus:

2013
Team Success: T-1st (NC runner-up)
Recruiting Success: 2nd

2014
Team Success: 4th
Recruiting Success: 3rd

2015
Team Success: 7th
Recruiting Success: 4th

2016
Team Success: 2nd
Recruiting Success: 3rd

2017
Team Success: T-1st
Recruiting Success: 2nd

2018
Team Success: 5th
Recruiting Success: 4th
 
Dang. I checked out his contract and it is a lot meatier than I thought given Cal's financial woes. $2.5 million this year, $3 million the next.
I have my doubts whether Wilcox would leave Cal. He grew up in Oregon, went to U of O, and all his jobs except for two years with the Vols and one with Wisky have been in the west. Not to say that if the Illini threw gobs of money at him, he wouldn't leave but my sense is he's a WC guy and to get him out of that area would take a great job and not just money.
 
I have my doubts whether Wilcox would leave Cal. He grew up in Oregon, went to U of O, and all his jobs except for two years with the Vols and one with Wisky have been in the west. Not to say that if the Illini threw gobs of money at him, he wouldn't leave but my sense is he's a WC guy and to get him out of that area would take a great job and not just money.

Yeah, I just threw him in there based on the stuff that's going on at Cal. Has a lot to do with why Cuonzo Martin was so eager to leave for a seemingly parallel move.

Always good to keep your ear to the ground of situations that might not be as stable as they appear on the outside. You always heard that there was friction between Bronco Mendenhall and BYU's administration, and boom, a Utah-native devout Mormon leaves BYU for Virginia. You hear a lot of the same stuff about Mike Gundy at Oklahoma State too (rumors even exist that he was approached to replace Beckman after year 1 and was at least willing to hear us out. Dave Doeren too.) But now that T. Boone Pickens has passed away that's probably no longer a thing. I wonder if similar issues brought us Underwood though.

There's also Barry Alvarez' meddling with the Wisconsin program that made Bret Bielema and Gary Andersen more gettable than they otherwise appeared. Paul Chryst knew full well what he was getting himself into having seen the Bielema era up close, so there's probably not the same friction there, and if he were to leave, surely it wouldn't be in conference.

(The moral of the story in all of this is that I am a psycho who pays way too much attention to this stuff. But if you want insanely completist potential coaching lists, you've come to the right place.)
 
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Dang. I checked out his contract and it is a lot meatier than I thought given Cal's financial woes. $2.5 million this year, $3 million the next.
Yeah, he initially was on an incentive-laden sub-$2MM per year deal that was much cheaper than the fired Sonny Dykes (one reason why Dykes intrigues me, he got fired for non-football reasons there). But he's shown to be pretty good, so they've paid up to keep him. Maybe that means the financial situation there has stabilized, I'm not really sure, but he's still making less than Dykes was.

They also gave him the money to hire a solid staff, Beau Baldwin and Tim DeRuyter are both really top-quality coordinators.

There's a seed of a lesson there, perhaps. Wilcox was far from a joke, he was a well regarded DC, but probably not on the top of anyone's list for a Power Five HC job. So he was willing to take a prove-it deal at Cal, who saved money that they could redistribute to really giving him the staff resources he needed to make it work.

Could Illinois do that? Should we? Who would be that guy? Brent Pry, DC at Penn State springs to mind. Maybe Chip Long or Mike Tressel?

The conventional wisdom is always that the struggling job needs to go overboard with years and money to prove that they're going to give endless time and patience to the new guy. But perhaps there's value in not playing make-believe about the way the college football business works.

Just spitballing and ignoring emails on a Thursday afternoon.
 
Carbondale, IL
There's a seed of a lesson there, perhaps. Wilcox was far from a joke, he was a well regarded DC, but probably not on the top of anyone's list for a Power Five HC job. So he was willing to take a prove-it deal at Cal, who saved money that they could redistribute to really giving him the staff resources he needed to make it work.

Could Illinois do that? Should we? Who would be that guy? Brent Pry, DC at Penn State springs to mind. Maybe Chip Long or Mike Tressel?

The conventional wisdom is always that the struggling job needs to go overboard with years and money to prove that they're going to give endless time and patience to the new guy. But perhaps there's value in not playing make-believe about the way the college football business works.

Just spitballing and ignoring emails on a Thursday afternoon.
You've got me convinced. I do wonder if the purse strings won't be at least slightly tighter for Whitman this time around, assuming this ends up how we think.
 
Likes: Dude
If we go the D coordinator route, Jimmy Lake at Washington might be interesting. And he was a coach with Tampa Bay (not during Lovie's tenure), so he has that going for him. :)

Morgan Scalley is a very good D coordinator at Utah, but I believe he went to school there and may well be the HC in waiting.
 
Seems like it would be hard for us to hire Jason Candle from Toledo. Thinking about this Wilcox thing, you know who else sprung to mind? Tim Beck. Would we dare?
 
Seems like it would be hard for us to hire Jason Candle from Toledo. Thinking about this Wilcox thing, you know who else sprung to mind? Tim Beck. Would we dare?
Not a bad coaching background Neb - OSU - Tex
 
I see where you are coming from, but you cant let a less talented team score 30+ points on you. We shouldn't have to outscore Eastern Michigan. And when those big plays are a result of an individual getting beat/blown assignments, that means they are not coaching them up, or not getting talented enough players.
I'm not sure that I entirely agree with this. We had two safeties that hadn't played a single snap at safety this season. Also, one of those two had been out the season and most of the preseason with an injury.
 
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