A college football coordinator job is a nice gig—no media obligations to worry about, no need to schmooze with boosters, and infinitely less pressure than a head coaching job.
But when offensive and defensive coordinators lead extraordinarily successful units, programs around the nation take notice and look to court them with head coaching jobs of their own.
Some are content right where they are, some wait for the right opportunity, while others jump at the first chance to make something their own.
Here are six assistant coaches spread across those three categories who are hot commodities for lead roles.
Note: Only current assistant coaches were considered.
Scott Frost's resume is a unique one—and it just happens to make him a perfect head coaching candidate.
As a quarterback, he led Nebraska to a share of the national title in 1997, becoming a Johnny Unitas Award finalist along the way.
He went on to an NFL career playing safety and special teams for several franchises, as seen in his Oregon bio.
His first major coaching job came at Northern Iowa. In 2008, with Frost as the defensive coordinator, UNI went to the FCS semifinals and was two points shy of playing for the national title.
From there, the Nebraska alum headed to Eugene, where he served as wide receivers coach and became the offensive coordinator before this season.
The Ducks finished the regular season No. 2 in the nation offensively, averaging an astounding 573 yards per game. That success has brought plenty of attention. According to Chadd Cripe of the Idaho Statesman, Frost was one of six candidates to interview for the Boise State head coaching job.
While Frost might not jump to a FBS conference job immediately, don't be surprised if he is scooped up by a smaller program.
Finishing up his fourth season at Stanford, defensive coordinator Derek Mason is on the short list of desired assistant coaches.
For four straight seasons, Stanford has finished in the top 30 nationally in total defense, allowing less than 350 yards per game.
Per his Stanford bio, Mason was a Broyles Award (top college football assistant coach) finalist in 2012, and in his four years there, the Cardinal have gone to four consecutive BCS bowls.
The Northern Arizona alum knows how to run a dominant defense, which makes a team competitive instantly. He also has some NFL experience, as he spent time as a defensive backs assistant with the Minnesota Vikings.
Mason won't be a coordinator for long, though it might come down to the right opportunity coming his way.
When a team like Auburn has a year like it is having, chances are high of assistant coaches branching out on their own.
For the Tigers, that assistant might be offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee.
A Broyles Award finalist, Lashlee led an Auburn offense that ranked No. 11 nationally in scoring and total yards.
He has connections to AU coach Gus Malzahn dating back to the turn of the century while Malzahn was coaching and Lashlee was playing quarterback at Shiloh Christian High School in Springdale, Ark.
While it might be tough for Lashlee to leave Malzahn and an rising Auburn program, Malzahn recently commented that it is only a matter of time before his assistant takes a lead job of his own, per Brandon Marcello, AL.com:
Well, Rhett is one of the up-and-coming guys in our business, there's no doubt about that. He deserved to be in the Broyles Award. He'll be a head coach at this level. It's just a matter of when and he's doing a great job for us right now.
The 2013 Baylor offense is currently one yard shy of becoming the NCAA's most prolific offense of all time.
If that isn't enough to earn some head coaching consideration for offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery, nothing is.
The Bears have torched opposing defenses this season, and Montgomery was named a finalist for the Broyles Award.
In his sixth year at Baylor, Montgomery has been instrumental to the program's resurgence.
The Bears won their first ever Big 12 title and will be BCS bowling for the first time in January.
The Broyles Award is essentially another way of saying, "This guy should have his own head coaching gig."
Pat Narduzzi should have his own head coaching gig.
The Michigan State defensive coordinator interviewed for the head coaching job at Connecticut in early December but decided to stay in East Lansing, per Mike Griffith of MLive.com:
At this stage of his career, Narduzzi made the call that he's not ready to walk away from the type of situation he has working for head coach Mark Dantonio and the type of success Michigan State has ahead for him.
"If you're grounded and smart, you know it wasn't you,'' Narduzzi said, referencing the amount of contributions from others around him that has made the Spartans' defense rank as the nation's most elite. "It was everybody else that you're around. You hate to break up a great party that we have going on right now, and it better be a great opportunity. It felt like this is the place to stay.''
Going into the bowl season, MSU is the only defense in the nation to allow less than 250 yards per game on average.
As strong as the Spartans were in their Big Ten championship season, it's only a matter of time before the right opportunity comes along for Narduzzi.
Clemson's 2013 season didn't go quite as planned, but the Tigers are still going BCS bowling.
Much of that is thanks to the offense led by coordinator Chad Morris. The Tigers finished No. 12 nationally in total yardage and No. 11 in scoring at 40.2 points per game.
As a result, he was named the FBS Assistant Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association.
Last year, Morris interviewed for the head coaching gig at Texas Tech, only to be passed over for TTU alum Kliff Kingsbury.
Recently, Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich said he believes Morris is happy at Clemson, though he also foresees a move for Morris to a head coaching position, if one becomes available, per Aaron Brenner of The Post and Courier:
After Morris' first season in Clemson in 2011, he signed a two-year extension through 2017 making him the highest-paid assistant coach in college football at $1.3 million per year. There's not much more Clemson can offer to counter outside opportunities.
"I think Chad is very, very happy with his circumstance here," Radakovich said. "His next move, if there is one, would be to become a head coach."
If Clemson continues to play well, there will be plenty of opportunities coming for Morris.