Tuesday, October 25, 2016

With DeRuyter Out, Candidate Circus Begins at Fresno State

     Tim DeRuyter became our latest Dead Pool candidate to officially drown in the raging waters of our coaching ocean this week, and with his firing, which shocked me not one bit, comes the circus that begins with the firing of a coach at a school where football is everything.
     Fresno State is a football hot bed. Take faith in this based on the fact that a Group of Five California State school (a system deep in the red, mind you), was paying Tim DeRuyter $1.5 annually. Little of that money was actually paid through the state, but by a well placed group of boosters and donors, which is a thing not usually seen at a program on the level of this. This group is well placed to get the person that they want to coach this program, and will likely be the best placed group of five program moving forward with a coaching vacancy.
     DeRuyter wasn't bad in the beginning, but he trended downward every season after years one and two, and this week, the Bulldogs ranked next to last of 128 schools in our weekly PRS rankings. That is a huge indicator that DeRuyter was finally done, and when he lost his 7th game of the year, making Fresno State bowl ineligible (save a waver, and how we hate that), there was no longer a reason to extend the pain of what was to inevitably come. DeRuyter was dismissed, and with that move came the event of the year in the Central Valley, a coaching carousel circus had begun.
     Several reports have surfaced in the last few days about who would be on the candidate list for the Bulldogs. The Fresno Bee, USA Today, and others have all weighed in, and the lists that have been made available by coachingsearch.com tell a varied tale. Let me break these lists down for you, but first, one fact must be noted. Athletic Director Jim Bartko has an extensive history with Oregon. Now hold that thought as we go into the magical list of perceived candidates.
     First, we delve into the list posted by the Fresno Bee, the hometown paper of the Bulldogs, a paper that has three assigned reporters to the Bulldog beat:

Jeff Tedford
Tedford is desperate to get back into coaching, so much so that he recently made a stab at revisiting old haunts, like coaching in the CFL, which by the way was a miserable time for him with the BC Lions. Tedford, a former player and assistant, has ties, but the end of his stint at California was a disaster, and APR rankings sunk big time. At Cal. Where academics are lauded. Tedford seems like a name here, but not the best name.
Reality Meter: Higher side, but I would not bet everything on this. He has more to prove than not, and Fresno State can hold out for better. Still, with the name thing, who knows?

Lane Kiffin
Kiffin also has Fresno State ties, and was a backup QB at the school. He has been a disaster of a coach at USC, Tennessee, and with the Raiders, but are his school and California ties enough to draw the Bulldogs in on him? Are we banking that he has changed as a person that much to make Fresno go all in here?
Reality Meter: Kiffin will eventually be a head coach again, but I am not certain that it will be here. Like Tedford, it seems to much of a chance to take.

Tim McDonald
McDonald is a current assitant coach with the Buffalo Bills, and played with the 49ers in San Francisco, and was a high school star at Edison High in Fresno. Other than that, he has no real ties with the program. With no coordinator or head coaching experience, this seems like a stab in the dark.
Reality Meter: Fairly low on the docket, I'd say. I do not see Fresno State going in a direction of someone who has not been a coordinator or head coach at a successful program. This is just a name grab of a guy who happened to live in town, once upon a time.

Ed Orgeron
Orgeron, the king of interim coaches, is back at it again at LSU after the firing if Les Miles. Here is the thing. Orgeron is succeeding at LSU, and if they cannot get Tom Herman or Jimbo Fisher, LSU may just stay in house with Orgeron.
Reality Meter: Not too much of a chance on this one. Seems like wishful thinking.

John Baxter
Baxter was an assistant for years at Fresno State, and lost out last time to DeRuyter. Although just a special teams coach with the Trojans, he is one of the best in the business, and his ties here are deep.
Reality Meter: Fairly high, and I would place him as my first true candidate on this list. Mark this one down.

Tim Drevno
Drevno is the current OC at Michigan under Jim Harbaugh. With the Wolverines rolling in the direction of a playoff appearance this season, Drevno may be in demand, but Fresno State may not be on his radar. He has no real ties here, and the closest he has been is an assistant at USC.
Reality Meter: Very low on this name. He may be a better fit at Purdue.

Matt Wells
I will give you that Fresno State is probably a slightly better gig in the Mountain West than Utah State, based on history and tradition, but this name seems like it was just thrown against a wall. The other issue is that the Wells star is dimming by the minute, and Utah State is slowly sinking back into the conference abyss.
Reality Meter: As interested as Wells may be in this gig, or not, Fresno State needs to hold out for better. Mark this name off the list.

Justin Wilcox
Wilcox ties in here with Bartko and Oregon. Wilcox knows Bartko from his days playing with the Ducks while Bartko was working in Eugene. I am not certain with the degree of which they know each other, but one would think that there is a relationship to some degree. Wilcox has been up and down, but he is sky high right now as DC at Wisconsin, and has one of the best defenses in college football going.
Reality Meter: Yes, he is a solid candidate here, if Fresno State can get him. His value is increasing weekly, but go ahead and put Wilcox with Baxter on this list.

Doug Nussmeier
Nussmeier is a former OC, and this job would seem to fit him like a glove. He is the current OC at Florida, and has revived some offense in a program lacking it the last several years. If he can recruit a decent DC to work for him, and get some solid recruiters in his camp, he may be a home run here.
Reality Meter: Very high. They should get after him early in the process, because he may be a commodity, especially if the Gators win the SEC East. Call him candidate 3.

Pete Kwiatkowski
He is currently the DC at Washington, and is doing a bang up job in Seattle with the Huskies, who may be on their way to the final four, if they win out. He has been around a while, but I don't see enough of a tie here. That may be his allure.
Reality Meter: Considering what he has done at Washington, call him candidate 4. What the hell.

DeWayne Walker
He is the current DB coach for the Jaguars, and is the former DC at UCLA. He was also a former head coach at New Mexico State. I've met him, and considered him to be a disingenuous individual, who walked out of the dinner at the final WAC media days not 15 seconds after he and his players walked in. He largely failed at NMSU, pouted somewhat when he was not hired at UCLA as head coach rather than Rick Neuheisel, and really is not a guy who should be a head coach, unless you  like a guy who overloads his roster with JC recruits for no apparent reason.
Reality Meter: If you like this candidate, I am sure I can find a wonderful used Yugo I could sell you. Strike him from the list.

Tim Skipper
He is a former player at Fresno State, and is the current RB coach at Florida. He is well thought of at Fresno State, but other than that, he really does not have the kind of resume that makes him a hot target.
Reality Meter: They may offer him an interview to be nice to an alum, but I can't see this going beyond that. Mark him as a mild candidate, but not a serious one.

Kelly Skipper
Kelly has been an assistant all over the place for years, and again, is a former Bulldog. He has never risen much beyond position coach anywhere he has been, however, and that's not a shining resume piece.
Reality Meter: Like Tim, gets a kicking of the tires, but I cannot see it going any farther than that.

Mike Martz
The former St. Louis Rams coach is on this list. Seriously. Remember, this is the Fresno Bee, not me.
Reality Meter: No freaking chance.

Trent Dilfer
Because he is qualified, right? This list started getting to the point where anyone who once used a public bathroom on campus was considered a candidate.
Reality Meter: Two headed Martians are more real. I heard Mike Strahan got freed up from "Michael and Kelly Live!" Let's call his ass up!

Jake Spavital
He is the current OC at California. He knows nothing of defense. Defense is a major problem at Fresno State.
Reality Meter: NEXT!

Steve Sarkisian
Sark after Dark is currently an offensive analyst working at Alabama, making $35,000 per year. He'd take a pee wee job at this point, but his unhinged alcoholism, which has not really been officially treated, is a concern so huge, that I would never make him the leader of men at a one man stage play.
Reality Meter: Whoever came up with this name should be fired on the spot.

Noel Mazzone
Mazzone is the former OC at UCLA, and is currently at Texas A&M. When faced with a serious challenge, his offense went unhinged against Alabama. At UCLA, he wasted 3 years of Brett Hundley, and one year of Josh Rosen. Hundley was so flawed by Mazzone's N Zone offense that he fell to the 5th round of the draft after long being considered a first rounder, and Alex Van Pelt had to strip him to the bone and rebuild him because of all of his bad habits learned under Mazzone and his son Taylor. Rosen regressed as last season progressed, again, under Mazzone, and Jim Mora made no effort to retain his services, which led him to Texas A&M, who needs QBs so badly they hitched their wagon to Oklahoma transfer Trevor Knight, who, as fate would have it, is regressing as the season wears on. Mazzone also disrespected the nation's top dual threat recruit so badly (Tate Martell of Las Vegas Bishop Gorman), that Martell, and several other high profile recruits decommitted from next year's class. With recruiting issues aplenty at Fresno State, Mazzone would be a disaster here.
Reality Meter: Believe me when I tell you that you would rather shoot yourself in the face.

Major Applewhite
Applewhite has been attached to open jobs for years now, but he is only being taken seriously right now. If Tom Herman leaves Houston for Texas, which is the rumor, Applewhile may just stay behind and take over at Houston, or he could screwed again, as he has been several times in the past. His time seems to be coming, but he is also getting to that area where once you are a candidate so many times, and don't get hired, your value starts to slide.
Reality Meter: Make him an official candidate, but I am not sure he will be available to interview.

     This concludes the Fresno Bee list, but there are others. Let me continue with a list by Bruce Feldman, of CBS Sports:

Jeff Tedford
Read my comments above on Tedford, but he worked with Bartko at Cal, which is why I can see Bartko running far away. Tedford has kids in Fresno, and was in town recently, but Bartko denied meeting with him, and claims that hey have not talked in years.
Reality Meter: Not very

Lane Kiffin
This name matches the Bee's list, but again, I am not certain about this name on the list.
Reality Meter: Not sure that he fits, at least in his mind.

Ed Orgeron
Again, matches the list, but will not be available.
Reality Meter: None

Nussmeier, Drevno, Wilcox, and Baxter are also on his list, which means that someone just copied a segment of someone else's list.

     And finally, there is a move that seems to make the most sense, if it can come to fruition, and this was mentioned by Dan Wolken at USA Today. He has circulated a story that because of Bartko and his Oregon ties, if Oregon should fire Mark Helfrich, which is a near certainty at this point, Bartko would bounce Helfrich to the top of his list of candidates. Helfrich's defense is a certified train wreck at Oregon, but this could be an interesting development moving forward, and Helfrich would become an absolute certainty as a candidate for this job.

Stay tuned as we move deeper into the carousel season!

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