We’re nearly to the end of the regular 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. The Coaching Carousel for the 2015 is about to start spinning fast and furious.
From College Football America Yearbook Encyclopedia:
Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart: Who wants him? Anyone who wants great defense. I just don’t know what opening it is that he wants.
Chad Morris, offensive coordinator, Clemson: I think he’ll get an interview at Florida. But he won’t get that job. But I also think this is the year Morris leaves for a head-coaching job.
Mark Hudspeth, head coach, Louisiana: The best coach in the Sun Belt Conference is ready for his promotion. The timing won’t be better. The players that helped him to four straight winning seasons in Lafayette are about to graduate.
Lane Kiffin, offensive coordinator, Alabama: He won’t leave for a Group of 5 job. So Kiffin will be in Tuscaloosa one more year, based on what I expect to be out there.
Doug Nussmeier, offensive coordinator, Michigan: If Brady Hoke is fired, Nussmeier will be looking for a job, as well.
Rice head coach David Bailiff: One of the best coaches in Conference USA. But what’s a promotion from Rice? SMU? Maybe Kansas? Both are very tough jobs, and Rice isn’t exactly a cake walk.
Texas defensive coordinator Vance Bedford: Tuck his name in your back pocket for 2015. The Longhorns are now bowl eligible and their defense is a big reason why.
Alabama offensive line coach Mario Cristobal: He’ll get interviews. If he gets a job, it’ll be a Group of 5 school. I don’t see him as a candidate for Florida or Michigan, if the latter job opens up.
USC offensive associate head coach Marques Tuiasosopo: A coach to track, unless a Group of 5 school is sold on Tuiasosopo’s ability, even though he hasn’t been a coordinator yet.
Ball State head coach Pete Lembo: Staying put this offseason. The Cardinals will miss out on a bowl game.
Eastern Washington head coach Beau Baldwin: The best FCS coaching candidate for a Group of 5 school looking for an exciting offense. He’s exactly the type of coach that could energize a program like SMU or even Kansas.
Additions after Week 8
Mack Brown, unemployed: Wouldn’t it just be ironic if Brown replaced Muschamp at Florida? I’d buy tickets to that press conference.
Ruffin McNeill, head coach, East Carolina: A month ago he looked like he might need to hire movers. Now he looks like he’ll stay put.
Doc Holliday, head coach, Marshall: Kansas would be smart to give Mr. Holliday a call once the season is over.
Willie Fritz, head coach, Georgia Southern: An impressive first season in FBS for the Eagles. An impressive first season in FBS for Fritz. It wouldn’t be the first time a first-year FBS head coach moves to another job in Year 2.
Mike Bobo, offensive coordinator, Georgia: Again, here’s a guy that Kansas should talk with. A great offensive mind who can roll with the punches when it comes to injuries and personnel.
Jake Spavital, offensive coordinator, Texas A&M: A name to watch for 2015, unless a Group of 5 really desires him and he wants to leave. I would suggest he stay at least one more year.
Pat Narduzzi, defensive coordinator, Michigan State: Like Smart and Morris, he’s an in-demand assistant looking for the right job. He passed on a couple last year. It was probably a wise decision.
Nick Howell, defensive coordinator, BYU: Track him for 2015.
Additions after Week 10
Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie, co-offensive coordinator, TCU: Meacham’s overall experience makes him a more likely candidate for 2015. Tuck Cumbie’s name away for 2016.
Randy Sanders, offensive coordinator, Florida State: The Seminoles just seem to find ways to win. Some of that is Jameis Winston. Some of that is Sanders’ scheme. He’s not a big name, so Group of 5 seems more likely.
Jim McElwain, head coach, Colorado State: The Rams may go 12-1 and fail to play in the Mountain West title game because of their loss to Boise State. Still, a bowl game awaits, as does speculation about potential new jobs for one of Nick Saban’s star pupils.
Dave Aranda, defensive coordinator, Wisconsin: A name you’ll hear more and more as the season ends, but might not get a job until after 2015.
Additions after Week 12
Justin Fuente, head coach, Memphis: The Tigers could win a share of the American Athletic title by beating UConn. With that, Fuente will start getting interviews. This would be a great steal for SMU as Fuente has state ties after coaching at TCU.
Dan Mullen, head coach, Mississippi State: Reports say that Florida doesn’t want him. I’m not buying it. A successful SEC coach who understands the conference and the school’s expectations, since he once coached there? Plus he was Tim Tebow’s tutor? Smoke, meet screen.
Addition after Week 13
Mike Gundy, head coach, Oklahoma State: There is an opening at Florida that people are openly tying him to. If the Michigan job opens up, he’ll be a name connected to that job, too. It’ll take a bigger job than Oklahoma State to pry him away. But remember this — he’s home. He went to Oklahoma State. The fan base loves him. He has all the support he needs as long as T. Boone Pickens is alive and kicking money to the athletic department. This team was in the national title conversation just two years ago. He is a great coach who gets a great deal out of his players. To lure him away you have to sell Gundy on what he can’t get at OSU. And that, frankly, isn’t a whole lot more than what he already has.
Note: Coaching searches at Buffalo, Florida, Kansas, SMU and Troy are already underway.