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Coaching Lists

I will say it right now - Butch Davis is my dream candidate for the UCLA head coaching gig. However, he is not the only one who we should consider as the next head coach after the failed Dorrell experiment is over (hopefully at the end of this season). Already we have had few discussions on Bruins Nation on list of coaching candidates.

We put up our first list of coaches on BN back in June of 2005 tacking on to a post Odysseus wrote up on FKD (yes we were thinking that far ahead) which includes the obvious names such as Butch Davis, Dick Vermeil, Tom O'Brien, Norm Chow, Mike Leach et al.  And then we put up another list of coaching candidates back in August of 2005 excerpting the hot candidates from CFN which includes the names of Garry Patterson (TCU), Jim Grobe (Wake Forest), and Gregg Brandon (Bowling Green).

Now given how the landscape of our football program has been changing this year, we have had lot more threads on this topic in our diaries during last two months. And I believe there are three posts that are worthy of highlight on the home page. First here are three names submitted by Maverick Bruin (bold mine):

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.
Mav also had DeWayne Walker in his list.  I will leave DW out of this.  IMHO DW is not ready to be a head coach. Yes under him UCLA has made some improvements on D. But we are now not even a top-25 defense any more. We are barely checking in at no. 32, and I am not sure we may stay in the top-40 after we get done with Cal, ASU, and Southern California. We will see. But I didn't like what I saw against Washington State.

Moving on, Ryebreadraz put up a pretty solid list of some lesser known candidates including some great coordinators from the game:
Steve Kragthorpe- The 41 year old Tulsa head coach is my favorite candidate. Kragthorpe received the head coaching job at Tulsa in 2003 and led the Hurricanes to a bowl appearance and an 8-5 record, the school's first winning record since 1991. That season he won WAC Coach of the Year, FWAA/Scripps First Year Coach of the Year Award, was 3rd place for AP Coach of the Year and was a finalist for other coaching awards. Kragthorpe led Tulsa to the Conference USA Championship last year in the school's first season in the conference and won the Liberty Bowl over Fresno State to complete a 9-4 season. In Kragthorpe has won more games in his first 3 seasons at Tulsa than the school had won in its previous 7 combined. Kragthorpe is a very good offensive coach. His teams have scored over 30 points in 23 games through his first 3 seasons and he has averaged over 39 points per game in his 21 victories. Kragthorpe also served as quarterbacks coach for the Buffalo Bills in both 2001 and 2002.  Kragthorpe was also the offensive coordinator at Texas A&M for 3 seasons where the Aggies went 35-16. He was with the Aggies when the Bruins beat A&M in the 1998 Cotton Bowl. Kragthorpe first began coaching as a graduate assistant with Oregon State and has been the OC at North Texas where his offensive led the conference in scoring. He is an accomplished offensive coach with numerous connections in Texas and the entire south and has NFL connections as well as head coaching experience and success.

Bo Pelini- The 38 year old is the current Defensive Coordinator at LSU. Last season at LSU his defense was 3rd in both scoring and total defense. This season his defense ranks first in both categories. Prior to being DC at LSU he was Co-DC at Oklahoma where his defense ranked 11th in scoring defense. Prior to that he was DC at Nebraska where his defense was 2nd in scoring defense. He was interviewed for the head coach job at Pitt following the 2004 season, but the job was given to Dave Wanstedt. Pelini has also spent 8 years in the NFL with the Packers, Patriots and 49ers. His NFL connections would be enticing for recruits.

Will Muschamp- The 35 year old Auburn DC is a former Georgia safety. He was the DC at LSU in '03 where his defense led the nation in scoring defense.  He also spent a year with Nick Saban as the defensive assistant head coach with the Miami Dolphins. He has also served as linebackers coach at LSU and his Auburn defense is currently one of the best in the nation. His connections in the south should bring in recruits from the fertile south.

Gene Chizik- The Texas DC led the Longhorn defense in route to the 2005 Nat'l Championship, a season in which his defense was 10th in total defense. Chizik was also DC at Auburn and in 2004 his Tigers defense went undefeated and led the nation in scoring defense. His defenses were ranked in the top 5 in total defense and top 10 in total defense in each of his final 2 seasons at Auburn. Prior to his stint at Auburn, Chizik spent 4 years as DC at Central Florida where he took a defense that was 81st in total defense before his arrival to 16th in his final season. He has had other coaching jobs in the state of Texas in addition to his current position so he should improve recruiting in Texas, a hotbed for talent.

John Tenuta- This 49 year old DC at Georgia Tech is one of the premier DC's in the nation. GT's defenses have been in the top 25 in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense and pass efficiency defense in both of the past 2 seasons. Tetuna also spent a season as DC at North Carolina where his Tar Heel defense was statistically, the best in the ACC. He does not have any apparent strong connections to assist in recruiting however.
That is the kind of good research we'd love to see more on BN.

Anyways, contrary to some folks I just don't think this is the time to narrow lists of candidates. For all intent and purposes we don't even know if we are going to have a coaching search by the end of this season. Dorrell just may win 3-4 more games this season and beat Southern Cal (okay I am trying not to lol to hard over here) and save his rear end, and comeback for at least one more season.

But right now no body knows who is or not in DG's list (or if he is even putting together one)? I think as fans it is more fun for us to talk up as many worthy candidates as possible. These lists do not include the name of Jeff Fisher, who just may be looking for a job at the end of this season. It also doesn't include the name of coaches like Jim Leavitt of South Florida or David Cutcliff, who has done a great job as the OC of Tennessee or even former Michigan and NFL QB Jim Harbaugh who is now a head coach at USD.

So there are lots of possibilities. And yes UCLA will be a very attractive target for lot of head coaches if there is indeed an opening in Westwood in December of 2006. This wonderful game has lot of talented coaches. We have to find the right guy and this is a process that will not happen over night when it gets started. This discussion of lists is just the beginning and there is no way or point in narrowing this discussion down to 4 or 5 candidates before we know for sure that we will be in the market for a new head coach.

So let's keep the discussion backed up by great research going here on BN.