Sunday, October 25, 2015

As the Coaching Carousel Turns 2015 Edition 1: UCF isn't Golden, and Neither is Al

We have already seen coaches fall at USC, South Carolina, Maryland, and Illinois this fall, and after week 8 was in the books, two more coaches fell victim to the Dead Pool, as Miami fired Al Golden after the worst defeat in school history (58-0 loss to Clemson), and UCF announced the immediate resignation and retirement of George O'Leary after the Knights have cruised to a disastrous 0-8 start. Neither move, much like the above mentioned moves, were a shock, and so the list of FBS openings have gone to six. FCS football boasts one opening, as Jackson State made a move weeks ago.
As we look at the open jobs, the one job getting more play than any other as far as interest seems to be at South Carolina, where several people feel the program is in the best shape to bounce back fast without overly excessive expectations. The job that seems to be garnering the least amount of interest is USC, with its myopic fan base and extreme expectations.


USC: The list is endless, but not very realistic right now. Sean Payton, Jeff Fisher, and least of all Pete Carroll are not walking through the door, so scratch those candidates off the list immediately. Same can be said for Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, who would be nuts to leave the Aggies for the Trojans at this point. Chip Kelly, nobody is getting him in the college game. The realities are that USC could be looking at other options, such as Matt Wells of Utah State, Tom Herrman of Houston, or current interim coach Clay Helton.

South Carolina: There are some very real possibilities out there for the Gamecocks program, but the one thing that has to be vetted is whether or not the Gamecocks are a premier program in the SEC, one that is big and committed enough to lure a power coach to Columbia. Alabama DC Kirby Smart is a favorite at this point, but look at Matt Campbell of Toledo to get a look, as Willie Fritz at Georgia Southern could be a nice fall back option as well.

Maryland: This is an interesting job, and is a program that could turn a huge corner as the current administrations seems committed to making Maryland into a football power. The money is there, and facilities are coming, so this could be an interesting draw. Does Maryland repeat a play from last time they tried to hire a coach and reach out once more to Mike Leach of Washington State? Remember, they almost had him before he bolted and the Terps ended up with the dud that was Randy Edsell. Chip Kelly isn't coming, but one interesting candidate could be James Madison coach and former Ohio State assistant Everett Withers, who has turned the Dukes into an FCS power in short time. The administration wants an offensive mind, so Kirby Smart would not be a fit here.

Illinois: The Illini could stick with interim coach Bill Cubit, but I doubt that will happen. Two names make the most sense here. The first is Toledo's Matt Campbell, who brings a young enthusiasm to the fold, and has Toledo flying high. The other is Illinois State head coach Brock Spack, who had ISU in the FCS title game last season, and has them in shape to make another title run this season. Would Illinois tap the Toledo well again after the Tim Beck disaster? They should, because Campbell isn't Beck.

Miami: The Hurricanes are a mess, are playing in a stadium miles from campus, and are an afterthought on the national stage. That may not change anytime soon, so the next hire they make could be important. The administration needs to show people that they are committed to winning football, and playing home games in what is basically Ft. Lauderdale certainly isn't a good thing. Miami has to make a splash, but can they get a big target? I think not. One guy who is suddenly streaking and has a habit of program building is USF coach Willie Taggert, who has suddenly turned a corner in Tampa after building Western Kentucky. Also look for Western Kentucky's current coach, Brian Brohm to get a look.

UCF: This is not a high profile job, and is certainly not going to outclass any of the jobs mentioned here. UCF is going to have to get crafty in making their next move, and that means looking at high profile assistants or winning FCS coaches who are familiar with the area. One coach who could get a call, and could make real sense here is Oregon OC Scott Frost. He runs an offense that makes sense in Orlando, and does know how to recruit nationally. He is tireless, and Oregon's current problems are not his fault. If Everett Withers gets ignored by Maryland, he could end up here as well. Willie Fritz could also be targeted for this job, as could Appalachian State's Scot Satterfeld.

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