Texas Tech was pulled onto the college football coaching carousel when Tommy Tuberville left for Cincinnati and the team has yet to hop back onto solid ground.
Tuberville accepted the Bearcats’ offer on December 8, and as ESPN’s David Ubben notes, the Red Raiders have since announced that offensive line coach Chris Thomsen will lead the team against Minnesota in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
The program is still searching for a permanent option for next season, and The Austin American-Statesman’s Kirk Bohls reported three likely options via Twitter:
The top three HC candidates at Texas Tech are Clemson OC Chad Morris, Texas A&M OC Kliff Kingsbury, new Cal HC Sonny Dykes, TT source says.— kbohls (@kbohls) December 9, 2012
Here are the pros and cons for each rumored candidate.
Chad Morris, Offensive Coordinator, Clemson
Morris has only been coaching at the collegiate level for three seasons, but Clemson showed last year just how much it values him.
As College Football Talk’s Ben Kercheval notes, Morris’ current contract with the Tigers tied him with Gus Malzahn as the highest paid assistant in the county when he signed it; with Malzahn now in a head coaching position, that tie is broken.
Morris is undoubtedly talented, and his offense has put up 40 points or more in eight of Clemson’s 12 games this season.
Experience does not appear to be a major factor in Texas Tech’s decision for a new head coach considering that two of its top-three candidates have never led a college program. If the Red Raiders are content with giving the job to an assistant, there are few better than Morris, and he would be an excellent hire.
Kliff Kingsbury, Offensive Coordinator, Texas A&M
Kingsbury was the man behind the curtain during Johnny Manziel’s historic Heisman Trophy-winning campaign, and he has achieved spectacular results during his brief coaching career.
The former Texas Tech star quarterback has never been a head coach at any level, but he had success coaching the offense under Kevin Sumlin at Houston. He continued to lead a productive offensive attack when he followed Sumlin to College Station.
While inexperience is a factor for both Morris and Kingsbury, the Clemson coordinator at least has a long and successful track record leading top high school programs in Texas.
Kingsbury is an exciting coaching prospect, but hiring a 33-year-old first-time head coach would be a massive risk, even if he does have legendary status in Lubbock from his time as a player.
Sonny Dykes, Head Coach, California
Dykes had a successful career as an assistant before moving on to an impressive stint as the head coach of Louisiana Tech and he possesses nearly every quality a program looks for in a head coaching candidate. Unfortunately for the Red Raiders, Cal has already recognized this and acted on it.
The Golden Bears signed Dykes earlier this month, but that has not stopped his name from being tossed around the Texas Tech campus.
Dykes’ father, Spike, was the Red Raiders’ head coach for 14 seasons and remains a legend in Lubbock. In addition, the younger Dykes spent time as an assistant under his father’s successor Mike Leach.
While Dykes has ties with the TTU program due to his history and family, it would be a major coup if the school was able to swoop him away from Cal. Ultimately, this is not a likely scenario.