Coaching Candidates: NFL, Fringe Comment Count

Brian October 8th, 2014 at 11:41 AM


PREVIOUSLY: the POWER 5, which is just Dan Mullen. The OTHER 5 and college coordinators.

I-AA And Beyond

All these guys are risks. Just look at Bobby Hauck, who went a staggering 80-17 at Montana and has three two-win seasons and a seven win season at UNLV.




BASICS: 12 years as HC/OC of D-II CSM, before that two years as Harvard OC and smaller jobs. 90-57, 1-2 in three trips to the D-II playoffs. 50 years old.

PROS: Extensive head coach experience at an academically demanding school that had previous experienced no success. 2001, his second year, was CSM's first winning season in a decade; 7 wins was their best record since 1958(!). Since getting established with an 12-1 record in 2004 only two CSM teams have finished worse than 6-3 in conference.

Has a reputation as an offensive innovator after Dana Holgorsen credited him with the play WVU used to obliterate Clemson in that one Orange Bowl. Does weekly coaching recap show in which he diagrams plays. Seems cool with shirts that say "Stitt happens."

CONS: No experience with big time football, and I mean none: coaching career has taken him from Northern Colorado Greeley to Doane College to Austin College to Harvard to CSM. No idea how he'd recruit.

OVERALL: Here's your Beilein. Quality 50-year-old dude with long, successful track record and reputation as offensive guru with recruiting and can-he-be-big-time questions. CSM is a lot farther from Michigan in Big Time considerations than WVU, obviously.


BASICS: 56-22 in six years on the blood-red field at EWU, coming off consecutive final four appearances in the I-AA playoffs and a national championship in 2010. Had one year at Central Washington, a D-II school before that. Career as an assistant included four years at EWU as OC and QB coach; before that was a Central Washington QB and then their QB coach, commencing immediately upon graduation. 42 years old.

PROS: Wildly successful in the Big Sky. Young. Significantly improved on Paul Wulff's EWU tenure, which saw years around .500 most of the time with only two 9-4 outliers.

CONS: May have never left the state of Washington. Usual experience issues. Paul Wulff flameout indicative of the flier nature of any of these guys. EWU seems to have in-built advantages that lend themselves to success irrespective of HC quality.

OVERALL: Has had more success at a higher level than Stitt, albeit in a briefer time period and coming from a much less dire starting point.


BASICS: Took over a moribund Towson program that went 3-19 in his first two years and flipped the script, going 29-10 the last three and reaching the I-AA championship game last year. Former Towson WR, has spent virtually all of his coaching career either at his alma mater or UConn, where he was first their QB coach and then OC from 2006 to 2008. 44 years old.

PROS: Youth, crazy Towson turnaround, etc., etc. These guys all have the same profile.

CONS: Same as the other guys. Shorter track record than either.

OVERALL: If you're reaching down here Stitt seems like the pick.

[After THE JUMP: oh no the NFL, plus goblins]


Who hates the idea of hiring an NFL coordinator? This guy. Most of these gentlemen haven't tried to recruit anyone in 20 years and will flit off to the place they consider the real league posthaste.

greg-roman-psu[1]GREG ROMAN, OC, San Fransisco

BASICS: Harbaugh's OC since 2009, first for two years at Stanford and then at SF. No college experience outside of those two years. 42.

PROS: Has run both the manball Harbaugh installed in Palo Alto and SF's Kaepernick-oriented pistol/quasi-spread, and done well with both.

CONS: Was never a college coach below the coordinator level; no idea about recruiting. Said delay of game penalties are "not always bad" in midst of season where SF led the league in them, so I would definitely die enraged if he was the guy. Seems more interested in the NFL long term.

OVERALL: This is the model for all these guys: at best a brief stop in college, often 20 years ago, and then a bunch of NFL position jobs before becoming a coordinator.

Picture%20McDaniels[1]JOSH MCDANIELS, OC, New England

BASICS: Broncos head coach in 2009 and 2010. OC with the Rams, Patriots, and… uh, Patriots around that. Went 11-17 as Broncos coach. 38.

PROS: Super young! Former NFL head coach. From Ohio so recruiting and stuff. Probably knows Tom Brady do you know Tom Brady?

CONS: College experience consists of two years as an MSU GA. Belichick assistants have a massive failure rate.

OVERALL: I mean I guess but this is such a hopeful swing at the vague direction of competence that it would be sad.


HAROLD GOODWIN, OC, Arizona Cardinals

BASICS: Former Michigan OL spent a few years bouncing around the MAC as an OL coach then made the leap to the NFL to do the same. Promoted to Cardinals OC in 2013. This is a truly meteoric rise: as recently as 2011 he was a quality control coach with Pittsburgh. 41.

PRO: Michigan Man.

CONS: Would never be mentioned as a candidate if he's wasn't. Only offense he's coordinated to date finished 20th in FO's DVOA stat, 12th in total offense. Arizona is currently 28th in yards per play.

OVERALL: If we hire Goodwin at this stage in his career, the disease is terminal.

Ask again in five years (but hopefully not, because then we're sad again).

austin-article-020714[1]TERYL AUSTIN, DC, Detroit Lions

BASICS: Just named the Lions DC, before that a defensive backs coach for 20 years, including four in Ann Arbor from 1999 to 2002. Went to NFL in 2003, had one year as Florida's DC in 2010, then bounced back to the NFL.

PROS: Unlike almost every single other one of these guys, Austin coached college for a decade and established himself a good recruiter during that period. Michigan guy, albeit by adoption. Lions D is first(!) in YPG and YPP so far this year.

CONS: Very little track record. Florida's 2010 D was a bleah 29th in FEI, and then Urban temporarily retired and he was out of a job.

OVERALL: Austin is marginally preferable to Goodwin because he's been in college longer but this is all but elevating a position coach directly to head coach. No. God. No God Please No. No. No.

hi-res-107784450-head-coach-gary-kubiak-of-the-houston-texas-looks-on-as_crop_north[1]GARY KUBIAK, OC, Baltimore Ravens

BASICS: Remember him from my youth as John Elway's backup, moved into coaching immediately after. Was Broncos OC for a decade under Mike Shanahan, then a fairly good head coach for the Texans from 2006 until 2013. Career record was 61-64, made playoffs in 2011 and 2012 before dismal 2013 season doomed him. Currently Ravens OC. 53.

PROS: Absolute pile of experience. Was generally successful with the Texans until the end there. Seemed to be well-liked. Was virtually a QB coach as a player so if anyone can get pro-style QBs right it's him. Did one of those THANK YOU ads when he got the ziggy.

CONS: Had a "mini-stroke" during that dismal 2013; no idea if that would be an issue. Almost zero college coaching. Zero Michigan connections.

OVERALL: More attractive than most coordinators because of his extensive experience, and his age might actually be a bonus: if Kubiak gets settled in as Michigan's head coach he may not be inclined to leave, and NFL teams may not be inclined to ask. Prefer him to anyone currently in the NFL not named Harbaugh except…

wknd-notes-14-dan-quinn-360[1]DAN QUINN, DC, Seattle Seahawks

BASICS: Hasn't exactly constructed the Legion of Boom but he is in charge of it as Seahawks DC the past two years. Before that, two years as the DC at Florida; before that a decade of NFL jobs along the DL. Has a reasonable amount of college experience as a DL coach at William and Mary, VMI, and Hofstra. Almost hired by the Browns last offseason. 44.

PROS: Kind of good job with Seahawks. Final year at Florida saw Gators finish fifth in yards per game, though he was working under Muschamp. Promoted as Next Great Head Coach by Peter King's admittedly bootlicking NFL version of Grantland.

CONS: Will be frequent target of NFL teams. No connection to M.

OVERALL: If it has to be an NFL guy not named Harbaugh this would be my pick.


Well, a lot of these guys are in the right age range with a lot of OC experience. Brian Schottenheimer has been an OC since 2006, for instance, and has been talked about as an NFL head coach for a while now. But with no ties to Michigan and exactly two years as a college coach of any variety, he's an enormous question mark. Ditto Darrell Bevell, though at least Bevell was a Wisconsin QB.

People bring up Adam Gase a lot, apparently because he was born in Ypsi. He's got Goodwin's resume except he went to State, and Peyton Manning's the OC of the Broncos anyway. No.



GREG SCHIANO, formerly of Rutgers and Tampa Bay

BASICS: Completed all-time turnaround at Rutgers, turning most moribund outfit in the country into a consistent winner. After four straight losing seasons to open took Rutgers to five consecutive bowls, including an 11-2 season that briefly had Rutgers in contention for a BCS championship game bid. Hired by Tampa in 2012, only lasted two years there. Miami's DC at the turn of the century before getting the Rutgers job. Somehow just 48.

PROS: Turned Rutgers from laughing stock into okay-to-good program, lots of experience. Pro-style guy, if that's an asset.

CONS: Tampa exit was messy and acrimonious. Had that whole kneeldown thing that was cro-magnon dumb. Was "almost universally viewed as unaccommodating, intimidating and downright disrespectful" by NFL even before his hire. Former player said it was "like being in Cuba." Didn't coach anywhere last year.

OVERALL: Last thing this program needs is a guy who will piss off half of everyone immediately and the other half gradually. Do you know what a colossal wiener you have to be for the NFL to turn on you? They didn't turn on Ray Rice! Ray Lewis! Other bad guys named Ray!

But they turned on Greg Schiano.

gruden_camp3_medium[1]JON GRUDEN, ESPN goblin


CUMONG MAN: Dude if he really wanted to be a coach he'd be a coach. He has found his true love and calling: yelling really loud in a TV studio while slowly turning into a goblin.

I SUPPOSE SO: Seriously dude is making bank and doesn't have to eat a metric ton of antacids every week.

OVERALL: omg gruden



October 8th, 2014 at 11:49 AM ^

Seriously, I think Bob Stitt would be a great candidate for OC. It's nearly identical to the situation when Chip Kelly went to Oregon. It makes so much sense that it makes me cry because we'll probably hire a cro-magnon OC.


October 8th, 2014 at 1:23 PM ^

I am not against this.  But to compare him to Beilein?  Brian, you have to be [redacted] kidding me.  

Beilein won big on the big stage at a school that at least most people knew about (and at smaller schools before that).  He had absolutely NO questions around him regarding the D-1 level, only "could he recruit?".  

Based on Beilein corollary, if we can't get a Harbaugh / Miles, then we should look at a coach that has proven D-1 head coaching success where the only question is "can he recruit at Michigan?" because even Brady Hoke could do that.  


October 8th, 2014 at 2:18 PM ^

I like your out-of-the-box thinking, Brian -- desperate times call for desperate measures, etc. But Stitt ain't happening at Michigan. It's too big a risk, and too tough for an AD (Brandon or his successor) to sell to a restive fanbase that you're elevating a guy from an obscure engineering school named the Colorado School of Mines(!) to head coach at Michigan. I respect what Stitt's done, and he seems like a good guy, but that's too big a leap.

As others have mentioned on this thread, the comparison to Beilein is also really unfair to Beilein. Yes, Beilein also spent many years toiling and succeeding as an innovator at small schools. But he had a much longer track record of showing he could compete directly with the Big Boys. He made the semifinals of the NIT at Canisius(!), for heaven's sake, and guided a 14-seed Richmond team to victory over a 3 seed in the first round of the NCAA tourney. And we all know what he did at W. Virginia in a very tough Big East, and the tourney runs he made there.


October 8th, 2014 at 4:38 PM ^

But Chip Kelly was a I-AA coordinator before Oregon, right?

However, you make me wonder if Stitt could be lured with a handshake deal that he bides his time for a little bit and then is first up for the promotion if everything goes well.

I don't think it's really realistic because then you have to hire a HC who's close to retirement. But if Les Miles got enough flak in Baton Rouge this year and wanted to save the alma mater before hanging it up.... no, now I'm just being silly....


October 9th, 2014 at 1:57 AM ^

I see no evidence to support this assertion, but maybe I'm looking in the wrong places.

Wikipedia lists him as OC at UNH until and including 2006, his last season before UO. This source checks out: On Aug. 15, 2006, UNH described him as "Chip Kelly, the associate head coach and offensive coordinator at the Univeristy [sic] of New Hampshire...."

This SBNation piece strongly implies that Sean McDonnell has been the UNH HC from 1999 to the present.

Am I missing something?


October 8th, 2014 at 11:52 AM ^

head coach --- way too risky, not really a viable candidate.  


But some head coach, even if it's only a HC for a Mountain West-type school, is going to pull the trigger here soon and make Stitt an OC.  Interesting experiment.


October 8th, 2014 at 11:53 AM ^

Stitt or bust!

On the podcast you mentioned Bo Pelini - but he is not metioned on any of the Coaching Candidates posts.  Was that deadpan on the podcast or was he a serious name?  I was so depressed by the first half of the podcast I couldn't tell.

los barcos

October 8th, 2014 at 11:54 AM ^

after scouring all coaching avenues for literally every feasable name, we're left with basically harbaugh, miles, and mullen.  one may never leave the NFL, another is getting old and may never leave LSU, and the third was on the hot seat at Miss. St and was a giant MEH coach up until two weeks ago...


...this seems like it may not end well. 


October 8th, 2014 at 12:56 PM ^

Because of the lack of slam dunk candidates, it is even more imperative we have an AD in place who can identify talent instead of a moronic hack who values making whoever will kiss his ass best the coach.


October 8th, 2014 at 8:07 PM ^

On the hot seat because Miss State fans like most fans generally have an inflated view of their place in the CFB universe. I'm just curious, was there any indications he was really on the hot seat with the MSU administration?

As an SEC fan, I've always thought he did a stellar job.


October 8th, 2014 at 11:55 AM ^

Seems like Kubiak had a TIA (transient ischemic attack) and was treated. Most likely was due to carotid artery stenosis and they either did an endarterectomy or placed a stent. It doesn't mean he's in great health though, but like many others I hope he's eating healthier than before (and taking meds like a statin).


October 8th, 2014 at 1:23 PM ^

When an employer takes health risks into consideration, they are showing why there is a HIPAA law.  So soccer dude, would you want your future employement based on past health issues?  Same with age, you can not use age as a reason to not hire someone.  These are things that should not happen, we forget that football coaches are employees and should have the same rights as you or me. 


October 8th, 2014 at 4:05 PM ^

Give me a break. HIPAA or not, employers are going to take this stuff into account, especially for a huge job like head football coach. And they should. You want to avoid as many reasons as you can to need to hire a new coach again in a few years. Age is one of those. Health is another.


October 8th, 2014 at 11:56 AM ^

These guys couldn't get a sniff by a pack full of dogs if they were covered in ground sirloin?

Well, thanks. I've now got a very bad feeling....


October 8th, 2014 at 12:00 PM ^

The end of each post has gotten better and better... Bar is getting set pretty high here with Goblin Gruden.

Also - (hear me out) what about CFL coaches with college/NFL roots? The Bears' offense seems to have struck gold with Marc Trestman (former longtime NFL/NCAA QB coach and OC, then CFL head coach) - are there any out of north-field candidates in the CFL who have the experience with NCAA football to succeed?


October 8th, 2014 at 11:58 AM ^

Chicago Bears OC. Good knowledge of the Sean Payton & Marc Trestman passing games.

Miami (NTM) graduate and assistant coach for 8 years. Some B1G experience at Northwestern.

O-line guy, could help develop the oline talent at UM.

Was a finalist for couple HC gigs in the NFL. I think for STL before they went with Fisher and Chicago before they went with Trestman. Was the brief intertim coach for the then interim coach Joe Vitt in NO during the bounty scandal.




October 8th, 2014 at 12:03 PM ^

Next Harbaugh up....Jay Harbaugh, he's young and he's a Harbaugh working under a Harbaugh as offensive QC for the Ravens. Could work, could fail. Can we just get Mike Leach?


October 8th, 2014 at 12:04 PM ^

He'd be your John Beilein maybe if you were an FCS school. But the leap from CSM -> Michigan is just vastly larger than your jump from WVU bball -> Michigan bball especially since WVU bball was better than Michigan at the time anyway. OC? Sure. HC? We're asking for doooom


October 8th, 2014 at 12:50 PM ^

Yeah, he might be John Beilein circa 1992 (when he went to Canisius) or maybe 1997 (when he went to Richmond) but to compare him to Beilein in 2007, after he'd been to the NCAA tournament several times and was an overtime away from the Final Four?  That's a major reach.

turd ferguson

October 8th, 2014 at 12:04 PM ^

Assuming no Harbaugh, my fingers are crossed that one of the power 5 head coaches would bite, because they seem like such better candidates this time around.  Obviously, more from this group would say "no" than "yes," but it only takes one:  Graham, Mullen, Gundy, Miles, Patterson, etc.

Gustavo Fring

October 8th, 2014 at 12:05 PM ^

But the Beilein comparisons are WAY premature.  It's not just that Beilein coached at WVU; it's the amount of success he had there.  He made the BIg East Championship (and it was a loaded conference at that time) twice and made the Elite Eight.  And as for that Elite Eight: WVU jumped out to a big lead and ended up losing in OT to a Pitino-coached Louisville (ugh...where have we heard that before- minus the OT).  No offense to Stitt, but that's a much stronger resume.

That said, I think from the standpoint of innovation, teaching and player development, and general likeability, the comparison may be more favorable.  Given his age and Twitter usage, I'd compare him more to TIm Miles though.  


October 8th, 2014 at 12:22 PM ^

This is pointless. We should being doing an AD search.

A good AD would be able to judge abilities and pick a coach with a strong enough personality to run the football program and a good coaching background.

The AD should run the rest and stay out of the football program.