College Football Coaches of the Future—Sun Belt, FCS, and NFL

Bill ShaefferContributor IJune 19, 2008

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One of the most interesting things for diehard college coaching fans to discuss is who is next in line for a BCS job.  For the next couple of weeks, CGB will be discussing some future BCS head coaching candidates who have yet to receive a shot.

Today we will start with the Sun Belt Conference, the Football Championship Subdivision, and the NFL.


Sun Belt

The Sun Belt Conference does not have any surefire BCS coaching candidates, but there are a couple of prospects who, if they develop, could end up coaching at a major program.


Todd Dodge - North Texas

The first among these is Dodge, who just completed his first year at the University of North Texas.  While he was not successful this season, you cannot ignore his numbers at Southlake Carroll High School in Texas.  Beyond the raw number of victories he put together, he was also known for directing a record-setting offense.

If he is able to properly tweak his coaching staff and get his offense rolling in Denton, he will be a hot commodity in the future.  Points breed excitement, and excitement breeds attendance.  If he can win at the same time, Dodge will have a Big 12 job sooner rather than later.


Mario Cristobal - Florida International

Another, more speculative, coaching candidate is Cristobal.  Unfortunately, the case for him may have been a stronger one before he actually coached the Golden Panthers.  He finished 1-11, and in a season where other “weak sister” Florida schools such as USF and UCF had great success, Cristobal’s ineptitude was particularly glaring.

However, Cristobal is a young and hungry coach.  If he can figure out how to manage a staff and win some games, his Florida connections should be very attractive to a lower tier SEC or ACC school.  Ironically, his one win this season came against…Todd Dodge.


Rick Stockstill - Middle Tennessee State

One coach who is not as young as Dodge or Cristobal but caused some rumblings in coaching discussions during the offseason is Stockstill.  Stockstill is a long-time assistant, and a respected one.  If he can put together a breakout season, he may use that momentum to find an SEC head coaching decision.



One thing about the FCS is that there are always coaches on the rise who are looked at when BCS programs need to make a coaching change.  While the results are not always great, hiring an FCS coach could mean getting a top tier coach for a value price—ask Navy if they were happy with the Paul Johnson hire.

Today CGB will focus on three FCS coaches from three different regions of the country who could be coming to a BCS conference near you shortly.


K.C. Keeler - Delaware

First up is Keeler, the head coach at Delaware.  Keeler has been successful, with a record of 52-26, but the real reason he is on the list is his ability to coach up an offense.  He inherited Tubby Raymond’s Wing-T formation, but immediately implemented a spread offense.  It is hard to argue with the results, and in April his quarterback, Joe Flacco, was drafted in the first round of the NFL draft.


Mark Farley - Northern Iowa

Farley covers the Midwest.  Unlike Keeler, Farley is a defensive coach, and his teams have always been near the top of the FCS defensive rankings.  He has three Gateway Conference titles, which is impressive given the strength of the league this decade.

In recent years his games against Jerry Kill and Southern Illinois have been the games of the FCS regular season.  Farley’s name might be whispered around Iowa City if Kirk Ferentz continues to stumble in 2008.


Bobby Hauck - Montana

Out West, we have Hauck.  In only five seasons, Hauck has a record of 52-14. In addition, he has made the FCS playoffs in every year of his tenure.  However, the relative lack of success that Joe Glenn has had at Wyoming may make it tougher for Hauck, his successor, to get a BCS job.

Nevertheless, if Hauck can win a title in the next couple of seasons, his success will be impossible for some Pac-10 teams to ignore.



It is difficult to assemble a list of BCS coaching candidates at NFL programs, just for the simple reason that many programs may overrate NFL coaching experience, which puts almost every pro coach in play.

However, there are a couple of very intriguing coaching candidates, and one former head coach waiting in the wings who could be a homerun hire for someone in the near future.


Lane Kiffin - Head Coach, Oakland Raiders

Kiffin was a surprising hire when the Oakland Raiders made him their head coach for the 2007 season.  After only one year, it appears the fit is not right for either party.  Reports have been swirling that Kiffin is going to leave—it is just a matter of when, and who makes the decision.

If that happens, expect him to get quickly scooped up by a college program.  Kiffin was an important part of USC’s recent success, and his California connections and tutelage under Pete Carroll should be beneficial to almost every BCS program.

The only knock on him would be if USC gets hit with sanctions for actions that took place while he was on the coaching staff.  Regardless, I expect Kiffin to be coaching in college within the next two seasons.


Rob Chudzinski - Offensive Coordinator, Cleveland Browns

One of the biggest surprises in the NFL this past season was the Browns, and they were driven by their offense.  If Chudzinski's name sounds familiar, you may remember him from his days on the staff at Miami.  Following his performance in 2007, Chudzinski’s coaching star appears to be on the rise.

Look for his name to be mentioned with most of the ACC and SEC openings in the near future.  In fact, if Randy Shannon cannot turn the Hurricanes around, Chudzinski might be an interesting choice to replace him.


Bill Cowher - Former Head Coach, Pittsburgh Steelers

Finally, Cowher is waiting in the wings.  While most people expect him to be coaching in the NFL in 2009, his demeanor also seems well suited for the college game.  While the most logical destination, North Carolina State, seems to be locked down by Tom O’Brien, there are many programs with the cash and history to attract a coach like Cowher.

Needless to say, a hire like Cowher could be a program changer, and could give ESPN enough camp footage for a week’s worth of Sportscenter specials.  One particularly interesting possibility is Penn State, with Joe Paterno sure to retire at some point in the near future.


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