We’re midway through the season so, as the Coaching Watch guy at College football America, I’m checking back in with our hot coaching names from our preseason publication to see where they’re at, and adding some names that could see themselves with new head coaching jobs come season’s end.
From College Football America Yearbook Encyclopedia:
Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart: Midway through the season Smart is coordinating one of college football’s best defenses once again. Will the right job finally open for Smart in 2015?
Chad Morris, offensive coordinator, Clemson: His Texas high school football coaching ties have him connected to the opening at SMU. But I think Morris could easily get a Power 5 job at a school that sorely needs his offensive vision (like Kansas). The Tigers are in the Top 30 in total offense.
Mark Hudspeth, head coach, Louisiana-Lafayette: The Ragin’ Cajuns are under .500 right now, but I don’t think the bloom is off the rose. I think he could still be a viable candidate for the three current openings. I’m looking forward to seeing the Ragin’ Cajuns in person for the second time next week (vs. Arkansas State Oct. 21).
Lane Kiffin, offensive coordinator, Alabama: Don’t be surprised. Someone is going to give this guy a head-coaching job again. Kiffin has been a nice fit in Tuscaloosa, has done solid work with Alabama’s offense and his image is getting the rehab it needs. It may not happen this year, though.
Doug Nussmeier, offensive coordinator, Michigan: Probably not this year.
Rice head coach David Bailiff: Let’s see where the Owls are at when the season ends. Right now I don’t see many offers coming his way.
Texas defensive coordinator Vance Bedford: This Texas defense has shown some real toughness this season. Bedford is setting the stage for a potential job after the 2015 season.
Alabama offensive line coach Mario Cristobal: Impossible to gauge at this point, though some of Alabama’s offensive success is tied to his work with the offensive line. He’s going to get another chance, of that I am convinced. But it will be a Group of 5 job.
USC offensive associate head coach Marques Tuiasosopo: He’s been laying the groundwork for the past couple of years and I’m convinced that’s why he followed Steve Sarkisian to USC instead of remaining at his alma mater, Washington. He still needs to work his way into play calling at some point. He’s a long-range coach to track if you’re projecting candidates the next three to five years.
Ball State head coach Pete Lembo: The Cardinals are off to a bad start this year, but they could rebound in MAC action. But I think that eliminates him from moving on in 2015. Remember — he was considered good enough to be considered for the Wake Forest job last year. His job at BSU is not in danger.
Eastern Washington head coach Beau Baldwin: The offensive numbers the Eagles are putting up are just dizzying. They nearly beat Washington on the road. Want a coach that knows how to excite the fan base and can challenge the big boys? Hire Baldwin. Just know that he’ll be busy until late December with the FCS playoffs. Heck it could be early January if things break right.
The new additions
Mack Brown, unemployed: Well, he has a nice cushy job with ESPN. But if he decides he wants to get back into it he’ll be a hot commodity. Brown has already been connected to the job at SMU, where I believe he would be a fantastic fit.
Ruffin McNeill, head coach, East Carolina: The Pirates are in contention for that at-large berth in the New Year’s Eve/Day bowl games for the “Group of 5” conferences. But the athletes that have put the Pirates in contention are about to graduate. Could McNeill parlay that success into a better job? The timing might be right.
Doc Holliday, head coach, Marshall: Not only do you get a head coach with a cool name, you get a head coach that might just lead the Thundering Herd to an undefeated season. Quarterback Rakeem Cato is set to graduate. If you’re ready to go, Doc, now is the time.
Willie Fritz, head coach, Georgia Southern: Yes, I know he just got there. But the Eagles were undefeated in Sun Belt play the last I saw. Plus, Fritz is working with athletes that aren’t a fit for the system he used at Sam Houston State, but he’s making it work. That’s a big plus.
Mike Bobo, offensive coordinator, Georgia: Bobo has gotten it done with great quarterbacks. He’s gotten it done with great running backs. Now he’s getting it done with a passel of backs that aren’t named Todd Gurley. He’s a Georgia alum so he’ll be hard to pry away, but he might be worth the shot.
Jake Spavital, offensive coordinator, Texas A&M: Lately programs have taken chances on young coaches on the offensive side of the ball, and none is having more success than Spavital, who is less than a decade removed from playing at Missouri State. Programs will openings will look kindly upon how he has transitioned A&M’s offense from Johnny Manziel to Kenny Hill.
Pat Narduzzi, defensive coordinator, Michigan State: The Spartans have been the top defense in the Big Ten the past three seasons. The Spartans are in the Top 5 in total defense in FBS in 2014. Someone offer this guy a job already.
Nick Howell, defensive coordinator, BYU: How bad did this guy want it? He left a head-coaching job at Ben Lomond High in Ogden, UT, and assumed a BYU football internship, followed by two years as a graduate assistant. Now he’s coordinating a defense that was No. 3 in the nation at the midway point of the season. He’s a Utah guy through and through, so he may not want to leave. But keep an eye on him anyway.
Note: Coaching searches at Kansas, SMU and Troy are already underway.