Toledo’s Matt Campbell takes the Iowa State job

This afternoon, Iowa State announced that Matt Campbell would be the team’s next head football coach. After several seasons of underachieving expectations, Paul Rhoads was dismissed by the program. A unique tidbit, this is Matt Campbell’s first coaching job outside of the state of Ohio. Before becoming Toledo’s head coach, he served as an assistant under Tim Beckman during his reign running the Ohio-based football team.

I’m kind of disappointed in this hire: I think most of Toledo’s success is due to the strong coaching staff Campbell inherited. This seems like an awkward fit for recruiting, not to mention that Iowa State is one of the most difficult Power Conference teams to win with. I expected them to pursue Willie Fritz or Ken Niumatalolo, both of whom would’ve been better hires. Campbell’s going to have to put together one heck of a coaching staff to win in Ames, and he should start by begging Jason Candle to join him instead of taking the Toledo head coaching job if it’s offered to him. GRADE: C+

 

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ESPN Top 50 Prospects (Uncommitted Predictions)

Rashan Gary, DT (Paramus, NJ)– Michigan

Greg Little, OT (Allen, TX)– Alabama

Willie Allen, OT (New Orleans, LA)– Louisiana State

Rashard Lawrence, DT (Monroe, LA)– Louisiana State

Dexter Lawrence, DT (Wake Forest, NC)– Clemson

Isaac Nauta, TE (Bradenton, FL)– Georgia

Lyndell Wilson, OLB (Montgomery, AL)– Alabama

Derrick Brown, DT (Buford, GA)– Georgia

Devin Asiasi, TE (Concord, CA)– Southern Cal

Trayvon Mullen, CB (Coconut Creek, FL)– Florida State

Oluwole Betiku, DE (Gardena, CA)– Texas A&M

Shavar Manuel, DT (Tampa, FL)– Florida

Antwaun Jackson Jr., DT (Ellenwood, GA)– Auburn

Rahshaun Smith, OLB (Bradenton, FL)– Clemson

Brandon Jones, S (Nacogdoches, TX)– Texas A&M

Mecole Hardman Jr., ATH (Elberton, GA)– Georgia

Kareem Walker, RB (Wayne, NJ)– Michigan

Kristian Fulton, CB (Metairie, LA)– Louisiana State

Mique Juarez, OLB (Torrance, CA)– UCLA

Nigel Knott, CB (Madison, MS)– Alabama

Shyheim Carter, CB (Kentwood, LA)– Georgia

Deontay Anderson, S (Manvel, TX)– Ole Miss

Nate Craig-Myers, WR (Tampa, FL)– Florida

E.J. Price, OT (Lawrenceville, GA)– Georgia

 

Justin Fuente named Beamer’s successor at Virginia Tech

Whit Babcock made the right coaching call when it was reported that Justin Fuente was chosen to replace Frank Beamer, who decided to retire after 29 seasons at Virginia Tech.

The Memphis coach has run one of the most exciting programs in college football over the past couple of seasons, leading the team to a 9-3 record behind star quarterback Paxton Lynch. Prior to serving as head coach at Memphis, he served under Gary Patterson as co-offensive coordinator running the spread scheme at TCU.

This was an incredible hire for Tech, as Fuente would have been sought after by many programs if he wasn’t secured their early in the coaching season. Even more impressive is the fact that Babcock was able to retain Bud Foster and Shane Beamer on his coaching staff, as both have been highly regarded assistants under Frank Beamer. Overall, great job for both parties, as Virginia Tech will now be competitive into the future. GRADE: A

Reaction: Hawaii hires Nick Rolovich

On Friday evening, Hawaii introduced former Warrior quarterback Nick Rolovich as their next head coach. The current Nevada offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach will replace Norm Chow who was fired after a little over three seasons.

Although I predicted June Jones to return as head coach, I think this is a better hire because Rolovich not only has experience as an assistant coach for the team, but signals that the team is focused on the future. The young coach will face many challenges running the under-funded program, but his up-tempo offensive scheme and strong recruiting acumen should leave fans optimistic for the future. GRADE: B+

Openings at ULM and Maryland

I’ve decided to give a another update, this time on the coaching searches at Louisiana-Monroe and Maryland.

Louisiana-Monroe: When head coach Todd Berry was fired at ULM, he wrote in his “thank you” message that the school needs to evaluate how much money and support they want to put behind the football program. Berry is right, and I’m sure his complaints will scare some coaches off. With that said, this is still a D-1 opening so I’d expect some interest. Chris Scelfo has publicly acknowledged his interest in the job. The former Tulane coach is an alumnus of the school. I listed Chip Lindsey as the best possible candidate for the job, for his offense could really turn things around at ULM. I wouldn’t be shocked if this is where Ed Orgeron looked to turn around his career, although he would probably want a sharp increase in funding towards football. If Les Miles is fired, Frank Wilson could possibly show interest in this job. An outside contender for the job is Southeast Louisiana head coach Ron Roberts, who is widely respected in the coaching industry. Same applies to interim head coach John Mumford.

Maryland: I’m expecting this coaching search to last for a long time, as Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans) and Chip Kelly (Philadelphia Eagles) are two of the leading candidates for the job. One of the school’s main pitches lay behind Under Armour CEO’s Kevin Plank, who wants to have a relationship with his alma mater similar to Oregon’s relationship with Nike. I believe that they will go after big names and eventually land one. Dan Mullen could emerge as a serious contender, since he’s pretty much achieved all he can in Starksville. I’d bet that Les Miles is on AD Kevin Anderson’s short list in light of what’s going on at LSU. Matt Rhule and Justin Fuente are probably under consideration as well. Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin reportedly interviewed for the job, though I’d expect nothing to come from it. I’m sure Mike Locksley will get a courtesy interview as well, since he’s done a respectable job as interim head coach.

Openings at Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa State, and UCF

I figure I’d give an update about rumors regarding the open coaching jobs at Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa State, and UCF…

 

Hawaii: The stigma with this job is that AD David Matlin acknowledged that the football program might shut down, so I wouldn’t expect many big names to have interest in the job. The only candidates who has confirmed interest in the job are former high school coach Rich Miano and former head coach June Jones, who is the person to beat for the job. Nick Rolovich has impressed in his tenure running Nevada’s offense and could certainly return as head coach if he’s willing to fight to keep the program alive. Other candidates could include former assistant and current Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Aranda and Oregon State defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake, but I wouldn’t expect either to emerge due to the budget issues.

 

Illinois: I wouldn’t expect any candidates to emerge until the athletics director situation is resolved, which should happen in the next week or two. Until then, we can only speculate on candidates. The first candidate to get a look should be Bill Cubit, who has done a fine job serving as interim head coach this season. If he gets the team to a bowl game it might be hard to deny him the opportunity to be head coach on a full-time basis. P.J. Fleck and Dino Babers could energize the program and have had success at their respective schools. Brock Spack could be the guy who emerges, as the former Purdue assistant has had great success at Illinois State and might want to bump up to an FCS program. Wouldn’t be surprised if Matt Campbell got involved either.

 

Iowa State: When Paul Rhoads was let go, many reports came out that Ken Niumatalolo was the top choice of AD Jamie Pollard. Despite his unconventional offense, he would be a great candidate for the opening. I’m just not sure if he’d want to leave his current job at Navy though, even if Iowa State is in a bigger conference. I think a more realistic candidate would be Ohio State DC Chris Ash, a former Iowa State assistant and finalist for the Colorado State opening last season. Willie Fritz has had success wherever he’s gone, and his offense could be a good fit in Ames. Chris Klieman, Bob Stitt, and Brock Spack could also be interested in remaining in the midwest and moving up to the FBS, especially at an Power Five program. It also wouldn’t unfeasible to see Gene Chizik return as head coach.

 

UCF: Danny White was just named the school’s new athletics director, so he will be the one initiating the search. The former Buffalo athletics director hired Lance Leipold last time around, a move widely praised for being an outside-the-box move. When O’Leary stepped down, the Orlando Sentinel named Jeff Brohm and Geoff Collins as the frontrunners. Both are leading candidates for the job: Collins used to be a linebackers coach at the school and Brohm runs a potent offense and has recruiting ties to the state. I’d also expect White to take a look at Alabama coaches Lane Kiffin and Mario Cristobal for the opening, as Kiffin is a talented ball coach and Cristobal is known for being a top-notch recruiter. Don’t be surprised if Rick Stockstill emerges as a candidate for the opening; he’s done a phenomenal job at MTSU and played quarterback at Florida State.

Potential coaching vacancies: a thorough update

 

With most firings expected to happen next weekend, I figure I’d give an update about some possible coaching searches coming up. I’ll give an update on the current vacancies at a later time, so here it begins.

The biggest name on the hot seat right now is Les Miles at LSU. They’ve lost three straight games, and his lack of recent success seems to be irritating those close to the program. I’ve read that his contractual buyout, so I’d say it’s about 50/50 whether he remains coach next season. In that search, I’d expect AD Joe Alleva to target Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher in a similar fashion to how Michigan recruited Jim Harbaugh. Besides having an easier schedule, he has very fertile recruiting territory in Florida so I have doubts about whether he’d leave for LSU. I think more reasonable candidates would be Larry Fedora at UNC, who is reportedly dissatisfied with the school’s academic crisis, and Rich Rodriguez, who was noted to have interest in the job by ESPN’s Travis Haney a few months ago. I wouldn’t be shocked if current assistants Ed Orgeron and Frank Wilson got a look either.

The next big name people talk about is Charlie Strong, who was hired at Texas just two years ago. After watching Tom Herman and Jim Harbaugh come into their respective programs and turn things around so quickly, the UT boosters are growing increasingly impatient. I doubt he gets fired, but there are rumors that he’d be interested in the Miami (FL) vacancy. This would be a solid fit, as most of his ties are from the state of Florida. Although I doubt he takes the job, this could be a good move for all parties. If Strong leaves, I’m almost certain Texas will go after Nick Saban with everything they’ve got.

Mark Richt was on the hot seat not too long ago at Georgia, but things change very quickly in the world of college football. I’m almost certain he will return. It doesn’t seem like he’s going to bolt for his alma mater Miami or get fired for underperforming this season.

I’m expecting Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer to be let go next weekend, as he was never the right fit for the program when Doug Marrone bolted two offseasons ago. If that job opens up, they’ll probably target mid-major coaches like Pete Lembo and Matt Campbell. They could also target Teryl Austin and Jim Caldwell if/when the Lions make organizational changes after the NFL season ends, as both have been associated with the job in the past. Greg Schiano wouldn’t be a bad fit either, and he seems to be hungry to get back into coaching.

I’m also expecting Kyle Flood be fired next weekend as well. The Rutgers coach missed part of this season due to being suspended for a silly academic mishap, which caused lots of bad PR for the school. When he came back, he also underperformed with a better roster than some might think. If the job opens, I’d think Al Golden would be the go-to guy. Although he got let go at Miami, he killed it at Temple and has tons of ties from his time up north. The former Penn State player knows how to run programs up north, and could really turn things around there. I also wouldn’t be shocked if they pulled a Louisville and hired former coach Greg Schiano, who bolted for the NFL just a few years back and failed miserably. Although he wasn’t a good coach in the pros, he certainly knows how to run a top-caliber, academically-clean college program. They would also likely target MAC coaches as backup candidates, and perhaps coordinators such as D.J. Durkin from Michigan, who has done a great job recruiting in the state of New Jersey, and Chris Ash from Ohio State.

I think MIke London is more likely than not to get fired next weekend. For a long time now he’s been underperforming at an institution that could be a perennial contender with the right coach. The school has a relatively easy in-conference schedule and is in fertile recruiting territory. I think Mark Richt makes a ton of sense here if he’s itching to leave Georgia, which is unlikely. Ed Orgeron could also get things turned around quickly there. He’s a great recruiter and has been beloved by his players everywhere he’s coached. However in reality, both are very far-fetched candidates due to their current SEC coaching jobs. More realistic candidates are Everett Withers, who has done a great job coaching the in-state James Madison program, and Matt Rhule, who is probably itching to find a bigger job than Temple where he’s pretty much reached his maximum potential for success.
I think Darrell Hazell will get at least one more year at Purdue. He had a massive rebuilding job when he got there, and he really hasn’t done that bad this year. And for the record I don’t consider Gus Malzahn, Mike MacIntyre, Steve  Addazio, or Kevin Wilson to be on the hot seat. I’m not sure as to the job securities of Paul Haynes, Curtis Johnson, and Paul Petrino since mid-major schools generally have different expectation than “Power Five” programs do.

Comments on Minnesota’s Tracy Claeys hiring

It was wise for Minnesota’s administration to hire Tracy Claeys on a permanent basis. Since they were put in an unfortunate situation with beloved coach Jerry Kill stepping down mid-year, there was no better option than giving Claeys (who’s served as interim head coach several times) the job on a full-time basis.

Claeys was lobbying for it, and he got it. With one caveat.

Claeys got a three-year deal, very unusual for a college coach hiring. But let me explain the logic of the deal. Minnesota figured that no coach could come in and do a better job than Claeys because the players love the guy, even if he’s not all so qualified to be a head coach of a major program. Especially after the gaffe in the game against Michigan. They hired him on a three year deal, so theoretically he could be gone after next season if things go south, and only have to pay two years of deferred compensation.

Despite this, best of luck to Claeys. Seems like his players will run through a brick wall for the guy just like his predecessor.