Two new head coaching positions have opened in college football this year thanks to Sonny Dykes, who left Louisiana Tech to take the Cal head coaching job, and Butch Jones, who left Cincinnati to accept the Tennessee head coaching position.
Dykes made his move on Monday, accepting California’s offer to be the thirty-second head coach in Bears’ history. Dykes makes the bolt for Berkley after spending the last three seasons as Bulldogs head coach, posting a 22-15 record with the team during that span.
Friday morning began with the announcement that the Tennessee Volunteers had hired Butch Jones to replace Derek Dooley as head coach. Jones has had a commendable amount of success in his two head coaching stints at Central Michigan and Cincinnati, recording fifty wins with just twenty-seven losses and winning three conference titles—two at Central Michigan and one at Cincinnati—in six years.
With two more FBS jobs now open, who will get a chance to show off their head coaching capabilities? Here are who I would have as candidates for both the Louisiana Tech and The Cincinnati head coaching positions:
Todd Monken, Oklahoma State OC – Monken seems to be a head coach just waiting for the right opportunity, and this opening may be just that. Many consider the offense that Monken employs with the Cowboys to match what Dykes ran, and the amount of success that Oklahoma State has had turning his time as offensive coordinator (19-6 record) probably puts him at the top of the Bulldogs’ wishlist.
Mario Cristobal, former Florida International HC – Cristobal knows how to build a program, so just imagine what he could do with a team that is already successful. Fired on Tuesday as Golden Panthers’ head coach, I predict that Cristobal will be coaching come 2012, and it could very well be in Ruston.
Kliff Kingsbury, Texas A&M OC – A former quarterback at Texas Tech, Kingsbury has had a very successful first season with the Aggies, as the team finished the regular season third in yards per game (one spot behind La Tech) and in points per game. While I predict that Kingsbury stays put in College Station, Louisiana Tech would be foolish not to pursue him.
Mike Bobo, Georgia OC – Often criticized as Bulldogs offensive coordinator, the Bobo skeptics are few and far between now following a season in which Georgia broke the school record for touchdowns in a season and are working on breaking the records for scoring average and total offense. A former quarterback for the Bulldogs in the ‘90s, it will be interesting to see if Bobo opts to leave his alma mater for a lower-level FBS job (Southern Miss is also rumored to be interested in hiring him) or stick around and have a chance for the head coaching position once Mark Richt calls it quits.
Pat Narduzzi, Michigan State DC – A former assistant at Cincinnati during the Mark Dantonio era, Narduzzi is considered to be one of the top defensive coordinators in all of the country, and although the Spartans finished the regular season at 6-6 this year, the defense still finished the year fourth in all of the FBS in total defense, giving up just 273 yards of offense per game. My guess is that Narduzzi will be Cincy’s top target and it will be in his hands whether or not he lands the job.
Bob Diaco, Notre Dame DC – Another former Bearcats’ assistant, Diaco served as defensive coordinator in 2009 under current Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly. Notre Dame’s defense has been the driving force behind the team’s chance to win a national title for the first time since 1988, which means that the work Diaco is doing has definitely been turning several athletic directors’ heads.
Matt Campbell, Toledo HC – The youngest current head coach in the FBS, the thirty-two year old holds a 10-3 record as Rockets head coach, including a 9-3 mark this season, the best first season for a Toledo head coach since Tom Amstutz went 10-2 back in 2001. Although it might be too early for Campbell to make a move up, eventually he will be given the chance to enter a bigger pond.
Doc Holliday, Marshall HC – A longtime assistant at West Virginia, Holliday was recognized as one of the best recruiters in the entire country during his assistant coaching days with the Mountaineers and the Florida Gators, and although his record with the Thundering Herd doesn’t exactly wow anyone (currently holds a 17-20 in three seasons), I wouldn’t be shocked if Holliday took this job and continued the Bearcats’ current streak of successful seasons.
Don Treadwell, Miami (OH) HC – The Bearcats’ offensive coordinator from 2004 to 2006, Treadwell is currently the head coach of his alma mater, where he currently has an 8-16 record in two seasons as head coach. While his current head coaching record may make him a longshot for this job, his ties to the school could put him in play if several of the other candidates decide to pass.