In mid-September of 2000, I pointed out nine coaches on the rise for
Bucknuts. Before doing the same for
the coming season, a quick review of the previous group…
Bower of Southern Mississippi.
Jeff is still out there awaiting an offer from a top program.
Alabama flirted with him a bit after Dubose’s demise, but
ultimately they chose Franchione.
Harris of Pittsburgh.
Walt’s name was mentioned with both the OSU and Alabama job
openings a couple of years ago. I
am betting that with Harris’ age he will either stay at Pittsburgh or go
to the pros. Harris has done a
solid job at Pitt thus far, and though they are in no way in the same
league with Ohio State – they are at least respectable once again.
Tuberville of Auburn.
Tommy has done excellent at Auburn considering what he has had to
work with. Auburn alums are
said to be a bit edgy according to several national sports writers, but what
can you expect since Tommy lost to Bama last November? Tuberville will do just fine so long as he can beat Bama
either this year or next.
Mason of Minnesota. Mason
was a finalist for the Ohio State job, but his blatant campaigning for the
position hurt his stock a great deal. It
cost him politically at Minnesota, and other athletic directors are not
enthusiastic about a guy who is so eager to leave his current school.
Mason’s stock will rise again if he has a solid year in 2002.
Bowden of Clemson. Bowden
is probably one of two or three coaches Florida State is keeping a close eye
on for replacing Bobby Bowden. Mark
Richt is also in this mix given Clemson’s struggles last year, but if
Tommy can take the Tigers to that next level and win an ACC crown?
Look out – Tommy’s next stop might just be in Tallahassee.
Willingham. He used to be
at Stanford, but after their initial idiocy, Notre Dame hired him away.
All I can say is that all the Domer fans ought to get on their knees
in thanks that O’Leary did not end up as their next coach.
Willingham is special, and after all their foolish griping about his
hiring- they are just now beginning to see how special.
Next stop for Tyrone? Professional
football. Look for him to jump
to the pro ranks in 4-6 years (depending on the money and perks offered as
well as the time required to rebuild a sagging ND program).
Stoops of Oklahoma. As
predicted, he has been courted by every major program.
As predicted, OU alums opened up the coffers for him.
My guess is that Bob Stoops stays for about another 7-8 years
(maximum) before following his mentor, Steve Spurrier, to the professional
Dimel of Houston. Time is
running out for Dana Dimel to prove that he can build a winner.
Texas has a ton of great high school players, so talent should not be
a problem. Unless he can turn the Cougars around this year or next,
the conclusion I will have to draw is that I missed the mark on Dana.
Turner of Illinois. Illinois
ended the season as Big Ten champs in 2002. Turner is also likely to get some looks from the
professional ranks in the coming seasons if he can continue to direct them
to victories and compete for Big Ten titles. Right now, he needs to get Illinois to play like they
should or no phones will be ringing. The
only thing coming his way will be a pink slip.
So, who are the coaches to watch for 2002?
What names should pop up at the end of the season for new job openings?
Who will the major colleges be gunning for?
Well, never fear – I have come up with another list of hotshots age 50
Meyer - Write
this man’s name down. Remember
it. Someone will be calling him
following the season. Though
there probably will not be all that many job openings after the season at
the major powers, I doubt he is at Bowling Green any longer than 2004.
A native of Ashtabula, Ohio, Meyer just turned 38 but has already
served as an assistant to gridiron specialists Lou Holtz, Earle Bruce, and
Sonny Lubick. He is well known
as an excellent recruiter and an extraordinary offensive coach.
He played a critical role in the Irish rise to the BCS in 2000 before
leaving for BGSU. One needs
only examine the records of ND and BGSU in 2001 to recognize just how
important this man was to the staff (and limited success) of Bob Davie.
For those without the resources or desire to look up the information,
after a BCS bowl in 2000, in the absence of Meyer, Bob Davie went 5-6 and
was fired. Meanwhile, Meyer
took a program that had been 2-9 in 2000 and proceeded to post an 8-3 mark
and was named the MAC coach of the year.
Already this season, Bowling Green hammered the same Missouri team
that upset Illinois by a margin of 51-28.
Who will be the lucky winner of the Meyer sweepstakes?
Whoever it is, you can bet that their fans are going to be thrilled
to have him as their new coach.
L. Smith at
Louisville. This coach has been solid at Louisville. Yeah,
Howard Schnellenberger laid a solid foundation for Cardinal football, but it
is still no cakewalk to try and build a program there. He has been
turning out some serious players, and it speaks to the talent on his
coaching staff in the multiple areas of recruiting, talent evaluation, and
player development. At 53,
Smith is running short on time for a major program to hire him, but with a
career mark of 103-54 and 34-15 at Louisville coming into 2001 – how can
you ignore him as a responsible athletic director?
Twice named Conference USA coach of the year, in his very first
season he turned Louisville from losers (1-10 in 1997) to a bowl team (7-5).
Only once in his entire coaching career has his team not finished in
the top 3 in their league (they placed 4th). Six times he has taken his team to the league title with
another four second-place finishes. The
bottom line is that this man can coach.
He will either remain at Louisville and build a top 25 program or be
hired by a power program and possibly contend for national titles.
Either way, you will want to keep your eye on this man and his team.
at Southern Miss. I put Jeff
Bower on this list once again because he deserves it.
I look for Bower to continue to make noise and end up at a
major conference school before too much longer.
His teams play solid if not spectacular defense, even if his
offensive schemes leave much to be desired.
In my opinion, his teams’ physical, smash-mouth style would be an
absolute perfect fit for a Big Ten program so long as he is willing to take care of the academic and
behavioral side of the game. Even
if you defeat Southern Miss, you are going to feel it the next day.
He is a personal favorite of mine based upon the performance of his
teams. His coaching record
stands at 73-52-1 coming into the 2002 season, but he routinely upsets
larger programs and has a very solid eye for talent.
Illinois has already tasted what Southern Miss and Bower dish out to
anyone who dares play on their home turf.
In fact, in the last 6 seasons, the Golden Eagles have lost only 4
home games and have played Nebraska, Alabama, Tennessee, and Penn State on
the road a lot closer than their fans wanted…
At just over 50 years of age, the clock is ticking for Bower if he
wants to move to a traditional powerhouse.
If he does not move, expect Southern Mississippi to join BYU
and Colorado State as a top mid-major program.
at Iowa State. This guy is not only a good coach, he also knows about
rebuilding programs. Why
do I say this? Well, his first
job was as an assistant at Iowa where he helped Hayden Fry take the Hawkeyes
to not one but two Rose Bowls (1982 and 1986).
After spending 13 years at Iowa churning out all-Big Ten linemen on
the defensive side of the ball (10 of them to be exact with multiple repeat
award winners), he left to join Barry Alvarez at Wisconsin in 1990.
Within 3 years as with McCarney as the defensive coordinator, the
team went from a woeful 1-10 to an incredible 10-1-1 season that included a
victory in the Rose Bowl over UCLA. Iowa
State was looking around for a coach in 1994 and wisely decided that if
McCarney and Alvarez could transform the once lowly Badgers, why not the
Cyclones? After bottoming out
in 1997 with a 1-10 season, Iowa State has done nothing but improve. In the last two full seasons, they are 16-8 with two
bowls. Right now, they stand at
3-1 and might have been 4-0 if not for a terrible call by the officials
against Florida State. McCarney
is only 49 – the perfect age for an established program seeking a man with
plenty of experience but enough time to build a legacy.
If Iowa State can upset Nebraska when they play this year, do not be
shocked if the Huskers place a few phone calls to Mr. McCarney at the end of
this season or possibly next.
at BYU. I do not know if he would leave BYU, but at only 45 – he
will likely get the chance very soon. Taking
over for the legendary Lavell Edwards in 2001, he reorganized a team that
had managed only 6 victories in 2000 and finished the season with an 11-2
mark. His offensive schemes are
creative and effective, and he can recruit (he took one of if not the
top QB prospects in the country last year from all the big boys).
Best of all for anyone looking to steal him away from BYU is that he
has a track record of excellence. His
tenure as the head coach at Louisiana Tech University from 1996-1998
resulted in a 21-13 record and victories over Alabama and Mississippi State. From 1999-2000 Crowton served as the offensive
coordinator for the Chicago Bears where he managed to cobble together a
reasonably productive offense with a collection of less then stellar
weapons. Throw in his
association with such coaches as Lavell Edwards, Tom Coughlin, and Mike
Holmgren and Crowton’s success should come as no surprise.
The only question with him is whether or not he would ever leave BYU.
A reportedly devout member of the Church of Latter Day Saints, he
values his family (7 children) and his religion above all else.
I expect Crowton to stay at BYU, but I would at least make a phone
call to him if I were in the market for a fine coach.
at Boston College. Had I been
the powers that be at Notre Dame last year, I first would have begged Tyrone
Willingham to take the job, and if for some reason he had refused? I would have beaten a hasty path to the door of Tom
O’Brien. He has a reputation as a hard-nosed, disciplinarian type
coach who recruits fairly well at Boston College - no small feat. With
a mark of 31-27 in the last 5 years, he has successfully turned a sub-.500
team into a yearly bowl contender (Boston College has played in 3 straight
bowls). At just a few weeks shy
of his 54th birthday, O’Brien is reaching the end of his
marketability for a new program, but do not sell him short just yet.
If a program has talent but is merely in need of discipline and an
attitude check (see UCLA and Michigan State), I cannot think of too many men
that I would hire over him in the college ranks – if any.
at Iowa. For the past couple of
years, this poor guy has had to live with the whispers of, “I can’t
believe we hired this guy over Bob Stoops!!!!
What were those idiots who hired him thinking?”
Those remarks are becoming less plentiful now though with the obvious
improvements on the Hawkeyes. Ferentz has done wonders with the
program considering Fry stayed too long and nearly ran it completely into
the ground. Just how improved
is the Iowa program compared to just 3 seasons ago when Kirk was hired?
How many Buckeye fans have looked at the 2002 slate of games (like
myself) and have muttered, “For once I sure am glad Iowa has rotated off
our schedule.” After 1-10 and 3-9 seasons, 2001 witnessed a minor
rebirth for the Hawkeyes with a 7-5 mark and a bowl victory over Texas Tech.
The pundits have picked Iowa to do pretty poorly in the Big Ten this
year, but I am not so certain that is accurate.
We will see, but I think Iowa with Ferentz at the helm will surprise
a couple of teams and might just be bowling in late December.
So, unless Iowa collapses, Kirk Ferentz is sitting in a very fine
position. He can stay at Iowa
and build a program that contends for bowls, or he can leave when a major
college football power comes calling. Either
way, Ferentz wins.
Mark Richt – The reason he is here is the same one that Houston Nutt
was an honorable mention on the initial list of coaches to watch in 2000.
Richt is not likely to move unless to a power such as Florida State or
the NFL. Georgia has more than
enough talent to make a run at another national title.
Perhaps this one could come without accompanying NCAA sanctions…
Jeff Tedford – I am not yet
ready to put a man on the list after less than half a dozen games.
If I were, this guy would be it. He
has a track record of success after serving as the offensive coordinator for
Oregon over the past several years. He has now moved to Cal to test his abilities to run a
program on his own. Thus far, the
results have been fairly incredible. Those
results should be tempered however until the end of the season.
Michigan State has an incredible wealth of talent, but they are
“coaching challenged” right now. Neither are Baylor or New Mexico State top 25 programs in
anyone’s wildest dream. No, he
certainly has my attention, but I want to see what he does over the course of at
least one full season before he is placed upon this list.
– This is no shocker here. June
could leave for a higher paying job any time he wants.
The only question some teams might have at this point is how well his
health is following that brutal car accident that nearly claimed his life.
Has it affected his stamina, recruiting abilities, or any other facet of
the head coach position? We should
know within a year or two depending on the measure of success gained by Hawaii.
looking for a very good coach in the next few seasons should at least make a
phone call to...
Dennis Franchione at Alabama. This guy can coach. Will
he survive the sanctions? He has to be wondering this. I talked to a
Bama fan the other day who is convinced that sanctions will not effect the Tide.
I laughed and asked him to have his head examined. Every SEC program
in the region is going to be telling all of the blue-chip recruits not to go
there. After a while, that begins to make an impression.
I can hear the conversation now, “Son… What did them folks over at
‘Bammer tell you? Did they tell
you how they were gonna be a good team and win championships?
Har, Har, Har… Whooooeeiii.
That is a good one! Now, let
me tell you the truth about Alabama. Did
you know they can’t even qualify for a championship right now?
Did you know that they can’t even go to a bowl game right now?
Did they tell you just how many scholarships they are losing and how long
the sanctions are? Did they tell you that the NCAA has reserved the right to
re-open the case if more evidence surfaces and that the NCAA almost gave them
the death penalty? They didn’t
tell you all that? Well, just so as
you know I am not lying to you about all of this, I printed this article up for
you. It tells all about it.
You keep it. Put it by your bed. Read
it a couple of times and think reaaall hard on what it says.
Let me know if you want to win championships with us at XXXXX – or go
play at ‘Bama and be everybody’s whipping boy.”
I would be seriously considering leaving were I Franchione. Contract
or not, The Crimson Tide may get rid of the guy if the sanctions start
inhibiting their wins against Auburn, Arkansas, LSU, and Tennessee (and they
will). Like basketball coach Eddie
Sutton discovered while coaching at Kentucky, you can be a very fine coach and
be destroyed by alumni who do not understand how incredibly difficult it is to
win while under NCAA sanctions. Like
Eddie, Franchione should get out of town and go to another program that he can
build into a winner.