WELP! When you're 2-4 and a home dog to a Penn State team starting a discarded gyro and a red solo cup at guard it may be time to see what's out there in terms of possible replacements.
Previously: the Power 5 head coaches, which at this point is just DAN MULLEN DAN MULLEN DAN MULLEN.
Other 5 Head Coaches
BRONCO MENDENHALL, BYU
BASICS: 86-34 in his tenth year at BYU, with a run of four straight ten win seasons from 2006 to 2009. Before that DC at New Mexico for five years and various small jobs besides. 48.
PROS: Wins many games. Lots of HC experience for age. Comfortable with running and passing QBs. Named "Bronco" so team would have to be tough I mean you'd think right. Would bring in a lot of Samoans.
CONS: Availability questionable. Mendenhall is a Mormon from Utah and is reputedly going nowhere. Has fallen off a bit after a hot start, coming off consecutive 8-5 seasons. (He is 4-1 this year.) Recruiting questions bountiful.
OVERALL: Might as well inquire but think he would be all but impossible to pry away.
CRAIG BOHL, WYOMING
BASICS: In his first year with the Cowboys after crushing I-AA run with North Dakota State in which they won three consecutive national titles. Had been HC at NDSU since 2003 before that; during this period NDSU moved up from D-II; they had consecutive 10-1 seasons under Bohl that did not result in playoff appearances due to that. 104-32 overall at NDSU. 56.
PROS: Can beat Minnesota. Really really bald.
CONS: Age tenuous, no big time experience, just got to Wyoming.
OVERALL: Todd Graham-esque departure this would require probably puts him behind other flier candidates, as does his age.
RUFFIN MCNEILL, ECU
BASICS: ECU's head coach since 2010. .500-ish his first two years, then won went 8-5 with a 7-1 nonconference record in 2012. Went 10-3 last year with a win over UNC and a narrow loss to VT; upset VT authoritatively this year. Prior to that was Texas Tech's DC for a few year, with a bunch of LB coaching jobs before that. 55.
PROS: Has ECU rolling with a modern offense. Had amazing afro back in the day.
CONS: Old-ish, doesn't have that much track record as a head coach. Highly successful OC Lincoln Riley likely to replace him so Michigan wouldn't get to import him.
OVERALL: Seems about as risky as a coordinator without as much upside.
JIM MCELWAIN, COLORADO STATE
BASICS: In his third year at CSU. Took over a 3-9 team, had one bad year, and then went 8-6 a year ago. Currently 4-1 with wins over Power 5 outfits Colorado and Boston College. Alabama's OC for four years before that, Fresno's OC in 2007, one year as the Raiders' QB coach, and then various position jobs. 52.
PROS: Familiar with pro-style and spread concepts. Might have a smaller transition cost than other candidates depending on how similar his offense is to Nussmeier's. Promising start to HC career. FEI ranks of his Bama offenses: 16, 8, 3, 11. Spent three years at MSU so not entirely unfamiliar with the area.
CONS: Very short track record as a head coach. Success may be based on importing guys like Dee Hart from Bama more than any particular skill.
OVERALL: If CSU has a ten win season he's a guy who'd be logical to look at.
Nope. The next guy on the list was Georgia Southern's Willie Fritz.
[After THE JUMP: coordinators are waiting for your call]
CHAD MORRIS, OC, CLEMSON
BASICS: Texas high school legend went 169-38 as a head coach at various stops from 1994 to 2009. Hired as Tulsa's OC in 2010 for single season under Todd Graham, then snatched up by Clemson. Now makes more money as an assistant than anyone in the country; Clemson's offense has been highly productive since. 45.
PROS: A lot of head coaching experience, albeit in high school. Good at making offense go. You know it's his show for the most part since Dabo was never a coordinator. Age.
CONS: Pure HUNH proponent, which may clash (but everyone is HUNH these days). Not even the whisper of a Michigan connection, or even a Midwest connection.
OVERALL: He's going to be a head coach somewhere soon, but probably not M. Feel that Clemson's offense has been a mite overhyped of late despite having Sammy Watkins and Tajh Boyd. Pass.
TOM HERMAN, OC, OSU
BASICS: OSU's OC and QB coach since 2012. Before that held the same position at Iowa State for three years, Rice for two years, and Texas State before that. (Not that Texas State.) A small-school position coach previous. 39.
PROS: Ohio State offense seems like a slightly good idea at the moment. Ohio State's QB coach seems like a slightly good idea at the moment. Had Rice tenth in total yardage when Iowa State scooped him up; likely to be very much running the show there with Meyer trying to find that ol' work-life balance. Previous Meyer OC hired away has worked out pretty well. SMRT: he's in Mensa! 2013 Rivals Big Ten recruiter of the year, too.
CONS: Still has peach fuzz on his cheeks. Can't decide whether he wears glasses or not. Combination of OSU and spread means high chance of transplant rejection from crotchety program alumni.
OVERALL: I wouldn't mind. Herman's rapid rise up the ranks is going to result in a head job pretty soon, and I think a smart guy would be nice.
PAT NARDUZZI, DC, MSU
BASICS: Dantonio's DC since 2004, Broyles winner last year after Michigan State's defense… sigh… propelled them to a Rose Bowl win. Before that was an assistant at various MAC schools and Rhode Island. 48.
PROS: Hooray witheringly effective aggressive defense. Hooray not having him at Michigan State anymore.
CONS: Uncertain how much of MSU's defensive success is him and how much is Dantonio. May be distasteful to fans, increasing chance he's bounced early. Might be hiring a double agent sent to destroy the program.
OVERALL: How do you know we don't already have one of those at AD?
TIM BECK, OC, NEBRASKA
BASICS: Has been Nebraska's OC since 2011, before that coached everywhere in the Nebraska/Missouri/Kansas area from high school on up. 48. Youngstown, OH, native.
PROS: Has a modern version of the Bo offense, an option-based system that uses the QB as a runner and has all kinds of folds and tricks up his sleeve. Once caused Hoke and Mattison to shrug resignedly when he pulled out a double pitch option.
CONS: Experience, possibility he won't be able to properly utilize a QB who can throw. Offense has never been amazing. Just got head stomped in by gentleman directly above.
OVERALL: I like his offense but doubt he'll be seriously considered.
SCOTT FROST, OC, OREGON
BASICS: Former Nebraska QB and NFL DB took up Helfrich's spot as the OC after Chip Kelly departed. Before that was the WR coach at Oregon for four years; was co-DC at UNI for a year before getting snapped up by the Ducks. 39.
PROS: Suffused in experience with all manner of option QB-running schemes from his college days and Oregon experience. If he works out would be a very long term solution. Smart guy who transferred from Stanford way back when. Would recruit Nebraska like a mofo.
CONS: Total flier pick. Mom doesn't like us. Might lose him to Nebraska if and when Pelini is done.
OVERALL: This would be a Rob Deer swing for the fences, and I'm okay with that. Once you get down here it's all risky anyway.
JOSH HUEPEL, OC, OKLAHOMA
BASICS: Oklahoma's OC for the past five years; before that their QB coach for five years. Heisman finalist as a Sooner QB in 2000, with brief NFL career afterwards. A mere pup at 36.
PROS: Head coach is a defensive guy, his show. Supporting evidence: most recent OU OC to get a head job, Kevin Wilson, has been reasonably successful and very successful in his area of expertise. Might be Batman.
CONS: Inexperience, again not even the whisper of a Michigan connection. Would be obvious candidate for OU job when Stoops retires—at 54 that's probably far enough off that it's not a disqualifying factor. Might not be Batman.
OVERALL: Identical candidate to Frost, except with a picture that will haunt him until he dies.
KIRBY SMART, DC, ALABAMA
BASICS: Saban's DC since his arrival in Tuscaloosa, with all that that implies both good and bad. Before that a position coach various places. DB at Georgia as a player. 38.
PROS: Scott Frost, the DC. Except he's been absorbing the tao of the master since 2008. Saban got rid of Nussmeier pretty abruptly so Smart must be doing something right.
CONS: Who has any idea whether he's at all responsible for Saban's Ds. Talent overwhelming, coaching same. Has never ventured north of Georgia as a coach, possibly in his life.
OVERALL: Cultural issues and even more total uncertainty about how he'd do on his own make him a nah.
LANE KIFFIN, OC, ALABAMA
BASICS: you would take this compared to right now I guarantee it
PROS: just think about that
you'd do it
think about it
CONS: but not too hard
OVERALL: stay safe out there, kids
There are a butt-ton of coordinators out there but not many stand out as consistent overachievers other than the guys above. Bud Foster is a VT DC lifer. Stanford OC Mike Bloomgren, mentioned only for manball demanders, has only been in the job two years but before that was their run game coordinator and then an assistant OC for the Jets for three years. Stanford's offense sucks this year, BTW.
Other than Foster it's hard to find any prominent DCs who have their teams at the top of the rankings year-in year-out, period; those who do often come with overwhelming talent or guru HC issues.