We’re more than halfway 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.
Additions after Week 10
Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie, co-offensive coordinator, TCU: The numbers the TCU offense is putting up and their 7-1 record to start the season is remarkable and should be enough to get the attention of some programs looking for a new head coach. Meacham will likely be more sought after due to his his experience, having coordinated offenses at five different schools before arriving at TCU this season (albeit four were FCS or below). Cumbie is one to track for after the 2015 season, as he is in just his sixth year as an assistant coach, and five were at Texas Tech.
Randy Sanders, offensive coordinator, Florida State: Success means that other schools will look to pluck away coordinators that have led to that success. Sanders joined FSU last year and coordinated their rise to a national championship. This year he’s endured the tumult of playing as defending champions and the craziness of Jamies Winston off the field and the offense is still productive. He’s an SEC guy, though having done time as the OC at Kentucky and as an assistant at Tennessee, where in his first game as offensive coordinator he led the Vols to a national title. He could be tied instantly to any SEC openings, but any school looking to boost its offense should give Sanders an interview.
Jim McElwain, head coach, Colorado State: He inherited a horrible Colorado State team and in three years has turned it into the front-runner to win the Mountain West. He’s one Nick Saban disciple who has definitely shown he knows how to build a program. Now the Rams have to find a way to keep him. Power 5 schools will come calling, and depending on how ambitious McElwain is he could move on.
Dave Aranda, defensive coordinator, Wisconsin: It might be Aranda time somewhere in FBS. For the second year in a row he has the Badgers in Top 20 territory in total defense (in fact the Badgers lead the country in yards allowed per game). Last year they ranked in the Top 20 in every major category. He’s plied his trade mostly out west, with stints at Cal Lutheran, Texas Tech, Hawaii and Utah State, his last stop before he followed Gary Andersen to Madison. He won’t be off the radar for long. Before he followed Andersen to Wisconsin he was offered the DC job at Cal. My guess is if there is an opening out west he’ll get a look. He’s a California native, but his recruiting territory is Florida, so don’t rule out the Sunshine State if an opening pops up.
From College Football America Yearbook Encyclopedia:
Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart: It all boils down to the right job as to whether Smart strikes out on his own or stays with Nick Saban.
Chad Morris, offensive coordinator, Clemson: He’ll remain in demand this offseason. His offense attracts the right kind of recruits.
Mark Hudspeth, head coach, Louisiana: One more win and the Ragin’ Cajuns are bowl-eligible. Four more wins and they’ll claim no worse than a share of the Sun Belt title. That would be four bowl trips in a row for Hudspeth and UL. Another coach who doesn’t have to leave for just any job, and his SEC ties make him attractive down south. Would Florida be interested if they fired Will Muschamp?
Lane Kiffin, offensive coordinator, Alabama: I think he has another year to wait, but he’s done solid work in Tuscaloosa his first season. The career rehab is going well.
Doug Nussmeier, offensive coordinator, Michigan: He should be more worried about whether he’ll have a job in Ann Arbor next year, if he’s carried out on the wave that might lead to Brady Hoke’s firing.
Rice head coach David Bailiff: Five straight wins have the Owls back on the map in Conference USA and Bailiff back on the coaching search radar.
Texas defensive coordinator Vance Bedford: As I said before, Bedford has done nice work with UT’s defense this year. But he has a year to wait for an opening, unless he just really wants to take a low-level FBS or even a high-level FCS job.
Alabama offensive line coach Mario Cristobal: He’ll get interviews, but I’m not sure he’ll get another head coaching job in 2015. It might take one more year.
USC offensive associate head coach Marques Tuiasosopo: Another name to track. He needs a play-calling gig first.
Ball State head coach Pete Lembo: Under .500 and may not make a bowl game. He’s staying put this offseason.
Eastern Washington head coach Beau Baldwin: Despite the loss of quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. to injury the Eagles are holding it together and remain in contention in the Big Sky Conference. If Adams returns by the postseason — assuming the Eagles get in — they could still make a long run. Athletic directors will look at what former Sam Houston coach Willie Fritz is doing with Georgia Southern in its first year in FBS — 7-2 through nine games — and won’t automatically dismiss Baldwin just because he’s an FCS guy.
Additions from our last report
Mack Brown, unemployed: We’ll see. I’m hearing he enjoys the pace of being a television analyst. I’m also hearing he’s itching to come back and I trust both sources I’m hearing this from. Let the misinformation begin.
Ruffin McNeill, head coach, East Carolina: McNeill’s chances took a minor hit after the Pirates lost to Temple. But his high-flying offense will play well in a Power 5 conference. I think he’ll get some interviews.
Doc Holliday, head coach, Marshall: If the Thundering Herd remain undefeated he’ll get some looks.
Willie Fritz, head coach, Georgia Southern: As mentioned, the Eagles are 7-2 in their first year under Fritz and in their first year in FBS. That’s going to look great in the eyes of some AD’s.
Mike Bobo, offensive coordinator, Georgia: Loyalty is big here, as Bobo has always been a Georgia guy. But he’s shown the ability to showcase talent, no matter where it comes from on the depth chart. That flexibility is valuable when leading a program.
Jake Spavital, offensive coordinator, Texas A&M: He needs another year. The offense is falling apart somewhat and the Aggies had to bench Kenny Hill.
Pat Narduzzi, defensive coordinator, Michigan State: In July head coach Mark Dantonio admitted that Narduzzi was offered “several openings” last offseason, but State was able to keep him (UConn and Louisville were quite interested). Could they do the same next year after another Top 10 defensive season? It’ll get harder every year. The thing I don’t know is how ambitious Narduzzi is at this point in his career. State made him the Big Ten’s highest-paid assistant, so I see a Kirby Smart scenario, where it has to be the “right job” to pry Narduzzi loose from the Spartans.
Nick Howell, defensive coordinator, BYU: The Cougars’ defensive ranking has now taken a serious hit, down to 65th in FBS. Track Howell’s name for next year.
Note: Coaching searches at Buffalo, Kansas, SMU and Troy are already underway.