With the Dorrell era quite possibly coming to an end this season or next, it is time to start thinking about the next Bruin head coach. On the assumption that Dan Guerrero will broaden his horizons this time after the debacle of the last "search," here are three candidates that Dan Guerrero ought to seriously consider. This is certainly not a complete list and these are not necessarily the three best candidates; everyone should feel free to nominate their own candidates. I have focused on coaches with head coaching experience and offensive coordinator backgrounds, since the defense appears to be in good hands at the moment.
Rich Rodriguez, head coach, West Virginia. Still in his early 40's, Rodriguez worked his way up the coaching ladder by turning around the moribund football program at a small school, Glenville State, finishing his six-year tenure with four consecutive conference championships. He was NAIA national coach of the year in 1993. He was a successful offensive coordinator at Tulane and Clemson, and then significantly upgraded the football program at West Virginia, going to three consecutive New Years Day bowls and finishing the 2005 season with a top 5 national ranking and a Sugar Bowl appearance. His record since 2002 is 40-14, including 4-0 this season. Most impressive, he has done this with recruiting classes routinely ranked outside the top 50 - his best rankings were 2002 and 2005 (33rd ranked by Scout both years). Yet while West Virginia fans are ecstatic with Rodriguez, a WVU alumnus, the administration has been stingy, frustrating Rodriguez (who even after a contract renegotiation only makes about $1,000,000 a year) with so-far empty promises of facilities renovations. The most significant minus for Rodriguez would be lack of local ties, but he has been so successful that this could easily be overlooked. There has been talk that Rodriguez might be the heir apparent to Bobby Bowden at Florida State.
Bobby Petrino, head coach, Louisville. Just 45 years old, Petrino was an NAIA All-American quarterback and has steadily worked his way up the coaching ranks, leading Louisville to a 33-8 record the past three seasons (including 4-0 this season). He has some Pac-10 experience as the quarterbacks coach as Arizona State in 1992 and 1993 (coaching Jake Plummer), and has spent a lot of time in the west as offensive coordinator at schools like Idaho, Nevada, and Utah State. Louisville hired him from the offensive coordinator position at Auburn, and he also has NFL experience as the offensive coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Dave Baldwin, offensive coordinator, Michigan State. If you're looking for local ties, Baldwin has them. He graduated from Cal State Northridge, and was the head coach at Northridge and San Jose State before moving to the OC job at Baylor and then Michigan State. His offenses routinely rank among the best in the country. Baldwin was fired by San Jose State after its best (and only winning) season in years (7-5) because of a contract dispute with the administration; the team went 3-9 the following season with most of its roster intact. This year, his offense is ranked 14th nationally; last year, 5th; in 2004, 10th. Baldwin is definitely looking to be a head coach and to move west again; his name was mentioned for the UNLV job that eventually went to Mike Sanford.
DeWayne Walker, defensive coordinator, UCLA. It's a little early to be talking about Walker as a head coach, and he lacks head coaching experience. Moreover, he is not really even a college graduate (having received his degree from a "virtual" internet college), a flaw that would be difficult for a UCLA administration apparently obsessed with academics to accept. Still, he shows a lot more aptitude to be a head coach than the incumbent Dorrell, and he probably will and should get some consideration. At a minimum, they ought to make sure he sticks around as DC if possible.