Best Remaining Head Coaching Candidates in College Football
The coaching carousel is in full swing with open jobs remaining at Kent State, Texas Tech and Wisconsin (to name a few). Names are flying around like confetti, and these six coaches are the best remaining candidates to fill the open jobs.
There are always names that surface from left field in coaching searches, but most teams are looking for a proven winner who has a unique expertise on one side of the ball and enough knowledge to make the other side of the ball serviceable.
These six guys know how to win, and they have been a part of successful programs everywhere they have stopped. The coaching-search season is upon us, and these names will likely be streaming across the sports ticker before the year is out.
Chad Morris: Clemson, Offensive Coordinator
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Thanks to Chad Morris, Clemson is a contender in the ACC. Morris brought his version of the hurry-up, no-huddle spread attack to Clemson and has helped the Tigers win a lot of ballgames since his arrival in 2011.
The Tigers were on the upswing offensively before he came to the program, but his skill has pushed Clemson into the top of the ACC discussion year after year. He has also helped develop Tajh Boyd into one of the best signal-callers in the country.
Morris has been tied to the Texas Tech coaching search (via College Football Talk) most recently, but virtually every coaching search in the past two seasons has included his name.
His shot is just around the corner, but the team that hires him will have to pull out the big boy checkbook—Morris already makes $1.3 million per year.
Gary Andersen: Utah State, Head Coach
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Gary Andersen cut his teeth as a defensive-minded guy early in his career. He served a number of different teams as a defensive coach, but his most notable appearance was with Utah in the 2008 Sugar Bowl win over Alabama as defensive coordinator.
In 2009, Andersen took over the Utah State Aggies program, and after two losing seasons has the Aggies in their second straight bowl appearance as they finished the 2012 regular season 10-2.
It has been an amazing turnaround for the Aggies with Andersen leading the way, and the country has taken notice.
Tim DeRuyter: Fresno State, Head Coach
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Tim DeRuyter was a defensive guru early in his career, helping turn around defenses at Ohio, Nevada, Air Force and Texas A&M before becoming the head coach at Fresno State in 2012.
In one year, DeRuyter has the Bulldogs at 9-3 and in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl against SMU on Christmas Eve.
DeRuyter has been tied to the Colorado job officially in the past few weeks, but other schools were rumored to be taking a look at the first-year head coach.
His time at Fresno State will likely be filled with a lot of wins, but it will be short if a few big-name schools have their way.
Mike Gundy: Oklahoma State, Head Coach
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Maybe Mike Gundy is happy in Stillwater, but that didn’t stop his name from popping up in the latest search for a head coach at SEC-power Tennessee.
Gundy was tied to the Tennessee job, but the Vols were unable to woo him away from the passion of the Oklahoma State fanbase.
Oklahoma State has been Gundy’s home since 2001 when he came to the school as the offensive coordinator, so his ties are tight to the program. Big-name schools—say Wisconsin—should be enough to pull him from Stillwater.
Every coach has a goal to win games, and Gundy has done that at Oklahoma State, but rarely do coaches stay at one program for longer than a decade.
It is doubtful that Oklahoma State is Gundy’s destination job, but I could be wrong. Gundy played for the Cowboys in college, and staying at his alma mater may be his final stop. Every coach wants to win titles though, and it doesn't look to be in the cards for Oklahoma State anytime soon.
I think It is only a matter of time before he leaps to a program with more prestige.
David Cutcliffe: Duke, Head Coach
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Before the Tennessee job search could get off and running this offseason, David Cutcliffe removed his name from contention. Cutcliffe worked for Tennessee on two different occasions in his career, starting there in 1982 and coaching the Vols until 1998 when he went to Ole Miss.
He returned to Knoxville to coach the offense from 2006-07 before he was hired away by Duke. His ties to Tennessee are strong, but not strong enough for him to want to even talk about the job.
Why he didn’t jump at the chance has no clear-cut answer, but to assume that he wants to close out his career at Duke just seems wrong. Cutcliffe is a winner, and he will thrive at another big-name program before he ends his coaching career.
This year, Cutcliffe has Duke in its first bowl game since the 1994 season—maybe that was his focus. Expect this name to become commonplace in coaching searches in the coming years.
Brent Pease: Florida, Offensive Coordinator
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Brent Pease has been an offensive coordinator since the 1996 season when he led the offense for Montana. Pease took a few different jobs before he landed at Boise State in 2006, and is now the offensive coordinator at Florida.
Pease took the Gators offensive coordinator job this season and has done wonders with the Gators offense. Jeff Driskel developed masterfully under Pease’s guidance, helping the Gators march to an 11-win season and BCS bowl berth.
When the Kentucky job came open, Pease was a name that was immediately affiliated with the vacancy. He quickly dispelled the rumors that he was interested, but the process has begun—Pease will be a head coach soon.