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Possible Candidates for the Nebraska Head Coaching Job

Who's on Eichorst's short list?

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Unrealistic, But We’ve Gotta Mention Them Anyway

Turner Gill, HC, Liberty University

Jon: Gill was one of my favorite Huskers of all time, but he doesn’t belong as a head coach at Nebraska. He has a different mission in life than coaching a high-profile Power Five FBS program.

Brian: What did he do at Kansas? Oh yea… they couldn’t do a lot of thing.

Ranchbabe: Yeah, Kansas is a mess and they wouldn’t take him back if he paid them. Nebraska should just keep his pictures on the wall and wish him well.

Paul: Turner Gill has found his place at Liberty. I don’t think it’s realistic to think that someone who failed so miserably at KU and then went to the bastion of gender segregated dorms that is LU would succeed in Lincoln. Now, as an offensive coordinator….that’s a different story.

Craig Bohl, HC, Wyoming

Brian: He would be an intriguing hire, he wanted to leave North Dakota State last year and would have gone to Minnesota if Jerry Kill had to leave. He’s also only making a touch over a million, and I can’t see it costing a lot to buy him out.

Mike: Isn’t it ironic that some people are calling for Bohl to return, when it was Bohl’s defense that ended Nebraska’s great run in 2001? Yes, he’s reinvented himself at North Dakota State, but he still has to prove himself at the 1-A level.

Ranchbabe: NDSU was a great story and he certainly had nothing left to prove at that level of football. I am curious about recruiting. At NDSU, and even at Wyoming, he has to find the overlooked kids and develop them. While we like those stories in Nebraska, we expect to be reeling in high star talent for the bulk of the class. I’d like to see how he performs at Wyoming because that could be a decent bridge job between FCS and Power 5.

Scott Frost, OC and QB Coach, Oregon

Mike: One of the ongoing criticisms of Bo Pelini was that Nebraska should not be a coach’s first head job. So why would we do that again?

Ranchbabe: He certainly has shown the acumen to be a successful coach but I tend to agree with the "too soon" school of thought. He is still pretty green as an offensive coordinator. Because he is so talented, it will be interesting to see if he looks to break in as a head coach at a mid-major and work his way up or if he will wait it out until he can go right to a power school. He is also young enough that he will probably be on Nebraska’s radar through several coach searches.

Nick Saban, HC, Alabama

Mike: He’s not leaving Alabama, even if Nebraska were to offer $10 million a year.

Paul: What Mike said. There is nowhere for him to go at this point. It’s like the President deciding what to do after two terms. Anywhere and anything would be a major step down.

Jim Tressel, President, Youngstown State and Former HC, Ohio State

David: There’s a lot of baggage with this one, and he’s got a pretty good gig right now. I’d think it could be lawyered enough that NU could avoid much of the baggage with the NCAA that would come with him if, in fact, they wanted to go this route. NU would win if he came, but I’m not sure NU would want to go that route and deal with that mess.

Brian: So, if you hire him, he couldn’t be on the sidelines for, what, the first 5 games? And do you really want someone that’s been out of the game for a couple years on your staff?

Jon: He’s a repeat offender. I can’t believe anyone would take him serious as a head coach again.

Mike: Bigger issue is the NCAA’s Show-Cause penalty that runs through 2016, meaning that hiring Tressel also invites NCAA sanctions since those follow him to his next coaching position. Could those be "lawyered down"? Maybe. But that will take time, and what will you do in the meantime?

Ranchbabe: I could repeat what everyone said above, but I won’t. My addition…. Tressel-ball would drive the segment of the fan base that wants us to be innovative, modern, and exciting into absolute insanity.

note: Wikipedia thinks Tressel should be the next Head Coach at Nebraska.


Worth a Second Look

Joe Moglia, HC, Coastal Carolina and Former CEO, Ameritrade

Jon: Honestly, I have no idea what the intrigue is here. Fill me in, guys.

David: Moglia is a guy who originally started out in coaching when he began his career. He also had a young family, so he decided to forego a budding coaching career to go into business. He worked his way up to become the CEO at TD Ameritrade and built that company into what it is today. He decided he wanted to give coaching another try. If you’ll remember, he mentored Bo on some of the finer points of managing an organization and Bo helped tutor him on the finer aspects of coaching, IIRC. The connections to Bo and the prior management at NU might rule him out, if he’d even be interested in the job in the first place. If he did, however, he’s brings a reputation of building exceptional organizations, bringing in good people and getting people to buy into the direction he’d set in place. He’s currently the head coach at the College of Charleston, where he took over the program and has turned them into an FCS power.

Brian: The thought process behind Moglia is that he could come in for next to nothing and give the money that would normally be saved for the HC to Assistants. He would definitely be a short-term hire, as he’d be the HC for the max of 5 years. One would think that a Scott Frost or another big time Coordinator/AC would be his right hand man, and if things went well Moglia just retires and the entire staff stays the same, just have the big time coordinator take over. That hasn’t really worked well in the history of these things, but knowing that someone is getting the job in a couple of years would entice folks that think they just need the big spotlight such as Nebraska to get in the fold. Oh, and by the way, he’s a finalist for this year’s Eddie Robinson Award.

Mike: Everybody kind of snickered when Moglia went back to coaching, but now it’s Moglia with the last laugh. Want a CEO head coach? Even Nick Saban can’t touch Moglia’s resume on that point. But Moglia’s lack of coaching experience means that you evaluate him on the strength of his choices for coordinators - especially since, as Brian points out, one of them will be the heir apparent.

Ranchbabe: I surprisingly don’t hate this idea. I have no idea if it would work, but it is intriguing.

Lance Leipold, HC, Wisconsin-Whitewater

David: He’s built a juggernaut at DIII Wisconsin-Whitewater. He’s taken that program to the national title game six times, winning five times. Again, with that program building thing, he’s done it. This would be a much higher level, of course.

He’s a Nebraska native, so that connection is easy to make, he’d know what he’s getting into here and what the environment he’d be stepping into would be. He’s only 50, so the age is about right, if that’s something you’re concerned about. The other connection is what intrigues me the most, however. Whitewater is Eichorst’s alma mater. Eichorst was an all-conference defensive back at Whitewater in the late 80’s and was a team captain in ‘90. Leipold was just breaking into coaching with Whitewater at the time. He didn’t coach Eichorst, but they’d certainly be familiar with each other.

This one is my darkhorse candidate.

Mike: No doubting his resume at Whitewater. But that’s Division III. A Power-5 conference job is something completely different.

Ranchbabe: I would dismiss this completely except for the Eichorst and Nebraska connections. Which means I probably should worry if the list gets to this point. DIII is a much different beast than the Big Ten. Make all the B1G jokes you want (and I do), this would be a big jump.

Kirby Smart, DC, Alabama

Brian: Thing is about Kirby is that he has had multiple chances to leave Alabama the last few years, but stays Saban’s DC. That could mean that he’s the one who will take over when Nick finally retires.

Tim DeRuyter, HC, Fresno State

Brian: DeRuyter has done well at Fresno, even though this year’s record doesn’t show. If he wins Saturday vs. Hawaii, they win the MWC West. Granted, he’s not shown that he’s built through recruiting, but he did take Texas A&M in the 1 season he was there under Mike Sherman from 104th to 21st in scoring D. He also worked with Charlton Warren at Air Force in the Defensive backfield.

Bronco Mendenhall, HC, BYU

Brian: He’s a guy who has also done well in the Mountain West, albeit he’s done nothing much more than 8-5 the last 2 years when BYU went Independant, with a chance to get there again this season. A defensive guy who has shown to be able to get the most out of his roster, imagine what he could do with a bigger budget.

Justin Fuente, HC, Memphis

Brian: This intrigues me the most. Fuente has taken Memphis to respectability in a school that hasn’t had it much since 2005 when the Tigers last had a winning record. Fuente was the Offensive Coordinator for Gary Patterson at TCU for three years, including the undefeated Rose Bowl season. If you’re looking for someone to develop QB’s, he made Andy Dalton a pretty damn good guy.

Ranchbabe: The more I read about him, the more I think this could be an intriguing option.

Jim McElwain, HC, Colorado State

Brian: You could make the argument that this is the most up and coming guy, over Fuente even. He’s gotten better in Fort Collins as the years have gone by, and has done it with a roster that is lesser than Nebraska. They score a lot of points, but they tend to also give up a lot of yards and points.

Mike: This is only his third season as a head coach. The Rams are having a dream season this year, but I’d really want to see a longer resume. Last season, he went 8-6 FWIW.

Ranchbabe: If we hire him, does that officially make Colorado State our coaching farm system?

Intriguing Possibilities

Kyle Whittingham, HC, Utah

Brian: Whittingham has been in SLC since ‘05, and makes some big coin. However, there is a wonder if he would like to find out what it’s like to be in the top of a Power 5 conference. He hasn’t done well since the move to the Pac-12 however.

Jerry Kill, HC, Minnesota

Brian: It’s taken him a while, but Kill has put his mark on Minnesota Football to where they play for a division title Saturday. Would he leave Minnesota where they’ve taken forever to get the facilities he’s begged for the past three plus years? Plus, would he need time, which is something that fans may not have in Lincoln?

Jon: I’d take Kill in a heartbeat. Thing about Kill - his assistants have stayed with him wherever he’s gone. Look at this - Tracy Claeys (DC) has been with him 20 years. Claeys has worked under him for 20 years, Matt Limegrover (OC), 16 years. It doesn’t stop there. TE coach Rob Reeves (19 years), DB coach Jay Sawvel (14), QB coach Jim Zebrowski (gasp, what? - 5), WR coach Brian Anderson (14), RB coach Pat Poore (14), DL coach Jeff Phelps (7), and LB coach Mike Sherels (4). When you can keep a staff together like that you’re doing something right. The health issue is brought up often, which is idiotic. No one in Minnesota cares about it. If your next thought was "Well, that’s Minnesota…"; they’ve beat us the past two years and they’re playing for a division title.

Mike: Kill has done it everywhere, and he’s proven it at Minnesota. There’s no question in my mind that he can do it in the Big Ten, and if you give him the resources and prestige of Nebraska, the sky is the limit. We saw what they’ve done to the Huskers the last couple of years. I’d put Kill at the top of my list.

Ranchbabe: Nebraska might be battling Michigan for him (starting rumors is fun). Would he want to jump over to the tougher East Division but go to a school that will probably be happier with initial results? Or would he want to stay in the West, which could be easier but where he would have to face his old team once a year and deal with a program that would consider his work at Minnesota thus far to represent their minimum expectations? He clearly can coach and his likeable personality might buy him some patience that Bo never got.

David Cutcliffe, HC, Duke

Brian: Cutcliffe has been in the fire before at both Ole Miss and now Duke. He’s done wonders in Durham, where no one cares after the start of October because Basketball. His age is a concern (60) and he has only won 2 division titles in his travels. But if you can win at Duke, you can win anywhere. Just ask Steve Spurrier.

Jon: Oh, 60. Yeah, he’s a dinosaur you ageist bastards. If you think Cutcliffe is old, and you had a thought about Tom Osborne returning, you’re a fool. How many coaches last past five-six years anymore, anyway?

Ranchbabe: For anyone screaming about an ability to develop quarterbacks, I guess you could do a lot worse than the guy that Peyton Manning trusts more than just about anyone.

Dan Mullen, HC, Mississippi State

Brian: If Shawn Eichorst had fired Bo last year, you could have probably gotten Mullen to leave and come to Lincoln much easier than now. That being said, he’s not scared of being in the big boy’s league as he was Urban’s OC and takes on Miles, Freeze and Saban every Fall. Before this year, he’s never finished in the top ½ of his division. But, he has that potential that most people beg for.

Mike Gundy, HC, Oklahoma State

Brian: Maybe not a real good idea? Sounds like Oklahoma State isn’t really fond of him much and vice versa. Who knows what a blowout in Bedlam vs Oklahoma would accelerate that, but he may listen. The NCAA has snooped around his program, so that’s an issue for sure. But he’s a guy who can develop offenses and win.

Paul: I’ve heard the word ‘promiscuous’ used to describe the way he flirts with other teams every year. Career progression in one thing, but the inquiries should be done through surrogates while the public face is one of commitment to the current job. I guess I’m saying that there is something sleezy about Gundy and I don’t want that in Lincoln.

Dreaming Big

Mark Dantonio, HC, Michigan State

Brian: He may listen. I doubt he thinks it’s serious. You’d have to throw some inhumane severely high $$$ at him. If you don’t mind spending the money that is coming with the next TV deal, here’s your guy.

Ranchbabe: The only real benefits of him moving from MSU to Nebraska might involve a hefty paycheck and getting out of the East Division. Somehow, I don’t see him backing down from Urbz and who knows if Michigan will ever get back on track.

Art Briles, HC, Baylor

Brian: UT thought they had Briles in the bag last year, and promised him basically a third of the state last year for him to uproot and move 2 hours down 35 to Austin. He said no, and reaffirmed his love to Waco. He would be a very interesting hire, but at the same time 1) the D hire would be the most important here and 2) you have to prove things will be better than he has now. Can Nebraska do that? I dunno.

Mike: I doubt that he’d come to Lincoln, but he’s another proven coach. Open up the checkbook and make him say no. It doesn’t hurt to try, and try hard.

Ranchbabe: Fast, modern, exciting, Texas recruiting, . I can see the red chrome helmets already.

Tom Osborne, Former Congressman, Former HC, Nebraska

Brian: Sure, what’s McBride and Kevin Steele doing? O_o

Mike: Maybe this belongs under "Unrealistic"...but never say never.

Ranchbabe: "Innovation Campus" is NOT a secret cloning lab. Shhhhhh! (Yes, I used that in another article already-I’ll file a complaint against myself).

Paul: TO will be 78 years old before the next Spring Game. Coaching is a physically demanding activity. Even if he’s healthy, I have a hard time seeing how any 78 year old could maintain the kind of schedule and activity that the job demands.