Ten potential candidates who would make sense at Nebraska
With Bo Pelini out at Nebraska, one of the nation’s plum jobs is open. What direction will athletic director Shawn Eichorst go?
Whenever a coach is fired, I always think a school is inclined to hire a new coach who is the opposite in most regards. It isn’t an iron-clad rule. But, an A.D. would be hard-pressed to hire a coach who fit the same template as the one who was just fired. Makes sense, right?
Knowing that, logic would dictate that Nebraska would look to hire a proven head coach who has an offensive background. That’s opposite of Pelini, who got the Huskers’ job in 2008 with no head coaching experience and with a defensive background.
Here are 10 candidates, in no particular order, that I think would make sense for the job.
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Jim McElwain, Colorado State. Nebraska had good luck looking to Fort Collins, Colorado, for its basketball coach, grabbing Tim Miles. McElwain has gone 22-16 in three years for the Rams, forging a 10-2 mark this season. The 52-year-old has Big Ten experience, serving as assistant head coach at Michigan State from 2003-05. Prior to landing at CSU, McElwain was offensive coordinator at Alabama for four seasons under Nick Saban. If Nebraska wants McElwain, it may have to act quickly, as one report has him as a leading candidate at Florida.
Scott Frost, Oregon. The native son could return home to get Nebraska over the hump. Frost is one of the sport’s rising stars, pushing the buttons on a prolific Duck offense. But is the 39-year-old Lincoln native ready for a gig like this with just two years of coordinator experience?
Tom Herman, Ohio State. The Buckeyes’ offensive coordinator is cut from the same mold as Frost, a young, hot offensive mind with no head coaching experience. No doubt, the 39-year-old Herman will soon be a head coach somewhere. But can Nebraska take a chance on a guy who never has led a program?
Rich Rodriguez, Arizona. Yes, his tenure at Michigan didn’t work out, but don’t blame RichRod. The guy can coach and has proven it again in Tucson, leading the Wildcats to the Pac-12 title game in just three seasons. His run at West Virginia (2001-07) was stunningly successful. The 51-year-old Rodriguez knows offense and is a proven winner.
Dan Mullen, Mississippi State. A perfect target in that he has been successful as a head coach and is an offensive guy. If the 42-year-old Mullen can win in Starkville, he certainly can at Nebraska. He was offensive coordinator at Florida from 2005-08 under Urban Meyer prior to landing at MSU. He has no Big Ten ties but seemingly has taken the Bulldogs as far as he can. Will it ever get better than it has been in 2014?
Justin Fuente, Memphis. The 38-year-old has become a hot commodity by making Memphis football matter, which has been no easy task. The Tigers are champs of the America Athletic Conference with a 9-3 mark after going 7-17 his first two seasons. The former Oklahoma quarterback has no Big Ten ties, running the TCU offense before landing the Memphis gig in 2012. If Nebraska doesn’t land him, some big-time school soon will.
Craig Bohl, Wyoming. He just finished his first season in Laramie going 4-8 after turning North Dakota State into a power during an 11-year tenure that included three FCS national titles. Before that, the 56-year-old Bohl spent eight years in Lincoln from 1995-2002, so he knows all about the wild expectations at Nebraska. But he’s a defensive guy.
Jim Grobe. He could have had the job when it was given to Pelini back in 2008. Grobe is available now, having stepped away from Wake Forest after the 2013 season. Yes, he’s 62, but Grobe is a smart coach and tremendous personality. He cut his teeth as a defensive coach but was a head coach from 1995-2013, working at Ohio prior to getting the Wake post 2001, leading the Demon Deacons to the ACC title in 2006.
Greg Schiano. He’s available now after not working in 2014 after getting fired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The 48-year-old Schiano earned praise for making Rutgers football matter from 2001-2011 with a 68-67 record and six bowls. But he’s a defensive guy.
Pat Narduzzi, Michigan State. He has been one of the nation’s top assistants the last few years and appears primed to lead a program after forging some of America’s top defenses in recent seasons. He has had chances but hasn’t bitten, sticking at Michigan State since 2007. No doubt, he’d be interested in this gig. But the 48-year-old Narduzzi is a defensive guy.
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