In College Football America, our preview publication, I wrote about the coaches that we believe could be head coaches in 2014. Now that we have four openings – let’s check back in with our list of coaches and see how they’re doing. Remember – there have been more than 20 head-coaching openings each of the last four years. So some of these guys will be moving up. This is our second update of the season.
Current head coaching openings: Connecticut, Eastern Michigan, Florida Atlantic, Miami (Ohio), USC,
New additions to the Hot List:
Philip Montgomery, offensive coordinator/quarterback, Baylor: If you can’t get Art Briles to leave Waco, his right-hand man might be the next best thing for a non-BCS school looking to juice up its offense. Montgomery presides over the No. 1 offense in FBS in both scoring and yards. He is also the tutor for current Bears quarterback Bryce Petty. Plus, you can give him some credit for the development of Robert Griffin III, Nick Florence, Bryce Petty and Case Keenum. Montgomery has worked for Briles for 15 seasons and understands the scheme better than anyone else outside of Briles. A school like Florida Atlantic could be keenly interested, but that’s assuming Montgomery is looking for such an opportunity.
Cam Cameron, offensive coordinator, LSU: Cameron has gotten plenty of career rehab out of taking on the OC job with the Tigers. He’s taken LSU’s plodding offense and turned it into one of the most productive in the nation. Additionally he’s turned quarterback Zach Mettenberger into an efficient quarterback who can win games with his arm. Of course, the NFL could come calling too. But Cameron might be a good fit for a job like USC. After all, Hollywood likes its glitz and glamour, and Cameron’s offense would qualify.
Danny Langsdorf, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks, Oregon State: Langsdorf has been with Oregon State for 11 seasons. This year the Beavers have put up some of the gaudiest offensive numbers in the nation. Quarterback Sean Mannion and wide receiver Brandin Cooks were, briefly, Heisman candidates. Both could return in 2014. He’s worked under head coach Mike Riley twice, so he has plenty of loyalty. Riley doesn’t seem likely to go anywhere. If Langsdorf doesn’t go anywhere this season, one wonders if the Beavers will go the head-coach-in-waiting route?
Vance Bedford, defensive coordinator, Louisville: Lost amid all of the great numbers that the Louisville offense is producing is the tremendous job the Cardinal defense is doing. The Cards are giving up 10.6 points per game, good for No. 2 in FBS. Bedford has been Charlie Strong’s defensive coordinator for four years and he would seem ready to run a program. He’s done time in the NFL and with Michigan, Oklahoma State and Florida. He’s also a former player at the University of Texas. He’s not ready to replace Mack Brown. But there should be some openings at schools that could use Bedford’s help on defense.
Pat Narduzzi, defensive coordinator, Michigan State: Mid-American Conference teams with head-coaching openings this offseason should give East Lansing a call and give Narduzzi a look. The Spartans are heading toward their third straight season as a Top-10 defense in FBS. The Spartans are in the Top 3 in total defense, rushing defense and scoring defense. Narduzzi is thought of so much in East Lansing that he has the coveted assistant head coach title. He has ties to one of the opening this offseason. He was the defensive coordinator at Miami (OH) for a year. The Redhawks could do a lot worse.
Pete Lembo, head coach, Ball State: The Cardinals hired Lembo away from Elon and he helped them to a two-game turnaround in 2011. The Cardinals are now heading toward their first 10-win season since 2008 when Brady Hoke was head coach. Hoke parlayed that into a job at San Diego State, and then a job at Michigan. Lembo loves to air it out and a west coast team would be a perfect fit if he wants to move on.
Tim DeRuyter, head coach, Fresno State: I have to admit – I didn’t have a lot of faith in this hire when it was made before the 2012 season. But DeRuyter has improved the defense, improved the recruiting base and led the Bulldogs to an undefeated season thus far. A job like USC is probably a reach. But there are some bottom-feeding BCS schools that would love to see what DeRuyter could do for them.
Curtis Johnson, head coach, Tulane; Dan McCarney, head coach, North Texas; David Bailiff, head coach, Rice: I lumped the three of them together because they’re all fighting for the Conference USA West title. Johnson has done more with less than few coaches this season, turning Tulane’s leftovers from the Bob Toledo era and combining them with transfers like Nick Montana to make the Green Wave bowl-eligible as they prepare to head over to their on-campus stadium in 2014. McCarney, who has a stroke in 2012, has the Mean Green bowl eligible for the first time since the Darrell Dickey era a decade ago. Bailiff has gotten the Owls to bowl-eligibility for the second straight year, a mean feat for the private school. A bigger program could look to any of them for help, though Johnson and Bailiff have youth on their side.
Updates on the holdovers
Kirby Smart, defensive coordinator, Alabama: This feels like a shift in the tides this season with the graduation of AJ McCarron. Perhaps the time is finally right for Smart to bolt?
James Franklin, head coach, Vanderbilt: Two more wins would get Vandy to a bowl game for the third straight year under Franklin. Guess how many times that’s happened in Commodore history? Zero.
Chad Morris, offensive coordinator, Clemson: With the Tigers likely not reaching the ACC title game, Morris will get plenty of interviews between the end of November and the Tigers’ bowl game. I’m interested to see if he bites.
Paul Rhoads, head coach, Iowa State: With just one win this season Rhoads isn’t going anywhere. He’s gone from a hot coaching name to a potential hot seat coach for 2014 in less than a season.
Mark Hudspeth, head coach, Louisiana-Lafayette: The Ragin’ Cajuns are bowl-eligible for the third straight year and lead the Sun Belt Conference. He won’t go unnoticed much longer.
Mario Cristobal, offensive line coach, Alabama: The school that fired Cristobal as head coach, Florida International, is 1-6 this season. How much do you like Mario now, FIU?
Willie Fritz, head coach, Sam Houston State: The bloom has come off the rose a bit with the loss to McNeese State. But his body of work the past three seasons will keep him on the radar. What works against him is what should be another long FCS playoff run. Will anyone be willing to wait to talk with him?
Tim Albin, offensive coordinator, Ohio: The Bobcats are bowl-eligible again and are No. 33 in FCS in passing yards. The game with Buffalo on Tuesday could decide the MAC East Division. Albin’s style of play is a good fit out west.
Art Briles, head coach, Baylor: Mention Mack Brown being sent packing at Texas and Briles immediately comes up as a replacement. I’m still not convinced Mack gets the boot in Austin or that Briles would take the job if it’s offered. But he’ll get some reachouts, that’s for certain.
Someone from Ohio State: Between co-defensive coordinators Everett Withers and Luke Fickell, offensive coordinator Tom Herman and defensive line coach Mike Vrabel someone is getting a head-coaching job somewhere. It just won’t be for the Buckeyes.
Scott Frost, Offensive Coordinator, Oregon: Should Nebraska decide to make a change at head coach by firing Bo Pelini, one has to assume that one of their first phone calls would be to Frost, a former Nebraska quarterback. Something tells me Tommie Frazier would approve.
Craig Bohl, head coach, North Dakota State: All the stars have aligned for Bohl if he wants to move on to the FBS. Question is – does he want to move on or stay in Fargo where he can basically coach there until he’s ready to retire?