Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Who'll be the next Vanderbilt head coach? Here are eight good candidates

I heard somewhere that Vandy's looking at interviewing about eight coaches. Right now, there are literally hundreds of names flying around. I have no idea who we're looking at, but I'd start with these eight:

Current job: Offensive coordinator, Auburn
Age: 45
Upside: One of the elite offensive minds in college football; as a high school coach, landed a job as the Arkansas OC in a package deal with two of his blue-chip players, left for Tulsa after Nutt wouldn't let him take the wraps off his spread offense, then became the OC at Auburn, where last season he exceeded expectations with one of the SEC's worst quarterbacks and this season has taken the nation's best quarterback and catapulted a team with a shaky defense into the nation's No. 1 team.
Downside: He's the hottest name in college football right now and is being connected to openings at Miami, Colorado and jobs like Ole Miss that aren't even open.
Bottom line: Vandy would have to pull out all the stops — and all its wallets — to land Malzahn. By all accounts he's a steady, reliable guy who just might find a niche and excel at Vandy. But after having Cam Newton, would he really want to work with the likes of Larry Smith?

Current job: Head coach, South Florida
Age: 46
Upside: Amassed a 34-23 record at pre-FBS UConn, then led East Carolina to four bowls in five seasons before jumping to South Florida, where his Bulls have a 7-4 record and are headed to a bowl; an overall record of 79-54 in 11 seasons; learned the coaching ropes from Bobby Bowden at Florida State and from his father Lou at Notre Dame and South Carolina; knows what it takes to be an underdog in the SEC; a drawing point for going to USF was the chance to play and beat Florida
Downside: Is biding his time for a bigger job, and while he might jump to Vandy for a chance at coaching in the SEC, he'd be even more likely to leave for a better job; a good recruiter, but can he spot a Vandy kid after recruiting at EC and USF?
Bottom line: A winner who's ready to coach in the SEC, but he knows better than most people how tough it is to win there.

Current job: Former head coach, Clemson
Age: 56
Upside: Never had a losing season in 12 years of coaching; went 18-4 with a bowl victory in two seasons at Tulane, then went 72-45 at Clemson; only season at Clemson without a bowl was following a fight with South Carolina when both teams declined a bowl bid; knows how to win at an academic school, taking the Green Wave to a Top 10 finish in his second season as a head coach; he can recruit, which is why he got fired at Clemson — he got blue-chippers that led Tiger fans to believe they'd be national champs in two years
Downside: Has been out of coaching for two years; coached at an academic school in Conference USA, not the SEC
Bottom line: Stop saying he was a loser at Clemson because he's never had a losing season, ever; in fact, he may have better results with scholar athletes than with blue-chip players, as evidenced by his results at Tulane; plus, he'd probably finish his career at Vanderbilt if given another chance to coach

Current job: Head coach, Northern Illinois
Age: 49
Upside: A winner at four programs, starting with a 49-25 record at Division II Emporia State and Saginaw State, then taking a terrible Southern Illinois team in the FBS from 1-10 to 12-2 in six seasons and amassing a 33-32 record, then taking Northern Illinois from being ranked in ESPN's Bottom 10 to three bowls in three seasons; overall record of 127-71 in 17 seasons; this year's team in 10-2, undefeated in the MAC and ranked in the Top 25; a hard worker and the first member of his family to attend college; cancer survivor
Downside: Was hospitalized this season for dehydration; looks older than 49 and lacks the CEO polish of other SEC coaches; has coached at state colleges with lower academic standards than Vanderbilt
Bottom line: This guy's a winner wherever he goes; his teams score boatloads of points and rack up tons of yardage. He wouldn't be a big-name hire, but he does have a cool name. He'd be a great pick for a program like Indiana, but he'd be a rock-solid pick for Vandy too. He deserves a shot.

Current job: Head coach, Temple
Age: 41
Upside: After inheriting a winless football team, he led the Owls to one win in his first season, four wins in his second, five wins in his third, and last season to nine wins and a bowl game; has eight wins this season heading into a bowl game; this year his Temple team won 30-16 over UConn, which clobbered Vandy 40-21; has an overall record of 27-34, but 26-23 if you take away his first season as a head coach; has a master's degree in sports psychology; the former defensive coordinator at Virginia; was a strong candidate for both the UCLA and Cincinnati jobs but took his name out of contention
Downside: A former Penn State player, he's thought to be a front runner to replace JoPa when that day finally arrives; is known more for defense than offense; has never beaten a MAC team with a winning record.
Bottom line: In his first head coaching gig, led a winless team to a bowl bid in less than four years. He's a polished leader who can build a winner from scratch and who'll think hard about leaving. Case in point: He has been contacted by Vanderbilt and has apparently taken his name out of the running, but you never know.

Current job: Head coach, Tulsa
Age: 46
Upside: By season's end, he'll have taken two small private schools (Rice and Tulsa) to four bowl games in five seasons; has a combined record of 42-23; inherited a 1-10 Rice team in his first season as a head coach and led the Owls to a 7-6 record and a bowl berth; hired Gus Malzahn as Tulsa's offensive coordinator (as well as Herb Hand, Vandy's current offensive line coach)
Downside: Left Rice after one season, which inspired the Owls band to create a halftime routine called "Todd Graham's Inferno," in which the coach was forced to pass through the various stages of hell for snubbing them
Bottom line: Graham can quickly build winning programs at small, academic schools that are perennial losers, he can sustain success, and he knows offensive coaching talent when he sees it. So why is his name not being mentioned by other media? But if he wins at a place where winning doesn't come easy, he has been known to jump ship as soon as possible.

Current job: Offensive coordinator, Navy
Age: 38
Upside: A master of the triple option who's learned from Paul Johnson and Ken Niumatalolo and has helped sustain the incredible run at Navy begun by Johnson and now sustained by Niumatalolo; a great recruiter and magnetic personality who knows how to spot scholars who are also good athletes; the only black coach in the mix (outside of far-fetched suggestions like Tony Dungy)
Downside: He has no head coaching experience and he's at a lower-level college; oh yeah, and he's not a household name.
Bottom line: People scoff at the idea of getting Navy's offensive coordinator, but there's a lot to be said for running the triple option at a school that can't get top athletes; Johnson and Niumatalolo aren't coming to Vandy, so why not take a shot at their protege? Plus, can you imagine him pitching Vanderbilt to black prospects in the Atlanta area? I can.

Current job: Offensive coordinator, Oklahoma State
Age: 39
Upside: He learned the run-and-shoot and maybe a few things about pirates from Mike Leach at Valdosta State and Texas Tech, left to turn Case Keenum into a top QB at Houston, and in one year at Oklahoma State has established himself as one of the top offensive coordinators in America; has tweaked Leach's system, adding more of a running emphasis.
Downside: How's this for a guy who's ready for another job: He lives in a hotel. He also strikes me as a free-spirited guy who speaks his mind and doesn't have time for bureaucracy, which may or may not work at Vandy.
Bottom line: I don't think we want Mike Leach and his baggage. But Holgorsen has learned many of his tricks and would undoubtedly bring offensive improvement to Nashville in a hurry. Plus, he's young, tough-minded and would probably relate well to kids, though not sure about academic-minded kids.

Other names being bandied about include:
• Mid-major coaches: Mike Haywood of Miami-Ohio, Rick Stockstill of MTSU, Niumatalolo of Navy and Troy Calhoun of Air Force, Kevin Sumlin of Houston, June Jones of SMU, Brady Hoke of San Diego State
• Former BCS-conference coaches: Randy Shannon of Miami, Mike Leach of Texas Tech, Mark Mangino of Kansas, Phillip Fulmer of Tennessee
• Assistant coaches: Greg Roman of Stanford, Mark Hudspeth and Manny Diaz of Mississippi State, Bud Foster of Virginia Tech, Mark Whipple of Miami, Paul Petrino of Illinois, David Lee of the Miami Dolphins


Anonymous said...

Rivals is reporting Roman is interviewing tomorrow at Vandy. I like this but I hope we just dont throw an offer at him. Williams said he wants to wait to talk to schools when there regualr seasons end (Malzahn and Foster)

Anonymous said...

If you look at Romans past jobs... he seems like a coaching whore. He was in Texas, Maryland and California all in the span of 3 years... I want a little bit more stable coach but we shall see


I guess I'm wary of hiring an assistant head coach/offensive line coach. Roman strikes me as a Chizik-like hire, which would be great if he's bringing Malzahn with him as his offensive coordinator. But fans and administration alike seem enamored with trying to duplicate the football success of Stanford and Northwestern. That would be great, but it doesn't necessarily mean we hire somebody from one of those schools.

Anonymous said...

I didn't see any pro coaches on your top 8 or other listed coaches. Vandy's head coach should make more money than many of the NFL's coordinators. There are only 32 nfl head coaching gigs. It seems like a few of them might be interested with the low expectations and possible stability???

Anonymous said...

What about Chuck Cecil??? Defensive coordinator for the Titans.

Anonymous said...

What about David Lee? QB coach for the dolphins. there is a rumor that he might be interested...

Anonymous said...

I hope that Bowden is the next coach. Vandy football needs instant credibility on many levels. Bowden will also hire and attract very good assitants who can develop our young talent. He also is very familiar with the sec landscape in terms of competition and recruiting. Having said that, I am confident that David Williams will make the right choice.

Anonymous said...

I just sent Williams the following email.

First of all, I want to thank you for the great job you have done. You don't get enough respect. I am so tired of Climer and Biddle.

I wanted to give you my support for Randy Shannon. Most importantly, I think he embodies the goals of Vanderbilt. I respect him as a person and a coach. I think he would be an outstanding recruiter, coach and representative for our football team. I know that he appreciates loyalty, and I know that Vandy can be a very loyal place for successful coaches. He could be a great fit.

I really would love to see Vandy bring in Randy Shannon as Head Coach and David Lee as Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator. David Lee obviously has great Vanderbilt ties and would be a great developer of talent at the QB position for Vandy. He has done very well as the QB coach with the Dolphins. He knows how to limit turnovers and develop smart QB play.

This could be an incredible combination for Vandy, Shannon's defensive ability and recruiting ability combined with David Lee offensive expertise, Vandy ties and QB development. I know the fan base and alumni could all support these two coaches. They really bring the best of both worlds with their experience on both side of the ball.

God bless.


Excellent letter. And the more I think about Shannon the more I like him.

Will said...

Strongly agree with Randy Shannon...still troubled my Miami firing him!! Hopefully, he will demenstrate more of his passion in his next gig, and VU could not do better for next coach!! Also, hope we can keep Sisk, Logo, McKinsie and Hand!!