- 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
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?
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.
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
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.
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.
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
- 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