Could Bronco Mendenhall be on the Gophers sideline next year?
By now you know that jettisoned Tim Brewster is the first of many to have the axe fall on his career at the University of Minnesota as the coaching carousel begins.
He will forever be first in something. (finally!), even if it the answer to the question: "Who was the first collegiate football coach fired in the 2010 season?"
6-21 in Big 10 games, including 15-30 overall, including 2-2 to FCS schools (that's D-IA for normal people) the writing was on the wall, even if his own players expressed shock over his dismissal.
So who should be his successor?
While the Minneapolis Star Tribune has their own ideas, including among the more interesting names, Randy Edsall, University of Connecticut, Phillip Fulmer, former Head Coach, University of Tennessee, current Vikings defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier, and former Texas Tech Coach Mike Leach, I'd like to offer my own.
Minnesota is saying all the right things in that they will (finally) offer a substantial raise from the $1 million Brewster "earned" while at the University. They will get a nationally-known, big name coach that will inspire confidence in the program and the students that play for it.
Good, about time.
So who is available? What should the Gophers do?
Its no secret the Gophers, the Alabama Crimson Tide of the 1930's-seriously, check out their national Championships-5 from 1934-41 are the worst team in the Big Ten Conference.
Who might want to come to that mess?
- Well, they have a "new" (2009) TCF Bank Stadium available to them.
- They play in a legit, power conference with many good, natural rivals.
They are going to need a coach that was perhaps screwed out of a position, aka have "unfinished business" with literally nowhere to go (thus he'd be willing to listen to an offer) and maybe accept it whereas if he weren't desperate he otherwise wouldn't give them the time of day.
Of this criteria three men come to mind:
Jim Leavitt: Former Coach, University of South Florida I've long been enamored by the raspy-voiced South Texan who literally built the entire USF program from atop cement blocks when the school had no program 14 years ago and his office was run out of a trailer. Was he abruptly let go at the school? I don't know. Keep in mind, I cannot be objective on this one since I have so much respect for a guy not only starting a program from nothing but building them as quick as he did.
Tommy Bowden, former coach, Clemson University True, Bobby Bowden's baby boy couldn't win the ACC even though for many years he had arguably the best talent but he won at tiny Clemson University even if it was in the fading ACC. Unlike Brewster he can get players to come to small schools and once there, they put up stats and make it to the NFL. Hey, kind of like Glen Mason did at the U of M!
Mike Shula, former Coach, University of Alabama-After a somewhat surprising 10-2 2005 season, this success ultimately did him in the following season when the school produced "only" a 6-7 record. He's the guy I initially wanted before Brewster was hired. Currently a quarterbacks coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL.
3 more men currently with hot jobs, but who I'd still target
Patrick Fitzgerald, Northwestern Only 35 years old, the man coaching at his Alma Mater, has steadily improved the once doormat of the Big Ten to actual respect. 4-8 (2006), 6-6 (2007), 9-4 (2008) 8-5 (2009) to 5-0 now. Talk about taking a direct hit from a rival if the Gophers could pull this one off. You have to wonder, if like Chris Peterson at Boise State, would he be willing to try a new challenge on a bigger stage someday if the money was right all things equal?
Bronco Mendelhall, BYU Just 44 years old himself, with a 51-20 career record would Mendenhall leave a school that has the unique factor of being an independent next year to go to an perceived older, has-been conference? Cool name aside, he's had some good records in Utah but this year's 2-5 record just might get him canned and Minnesota would be wise to follow through with this hire.
Kyle Whittingham, Utah Speaking of Utah, lets do just that. Would the 50 year old leave his adopted home state for a bigger conference and maybe more exposure? Sure, they are moving to the Pac-10 soon but the Big Ten is gonna have 12 teams soon with one of them being the resurgent Nebraska. Then there's all those TV dollars...
Any of the latter three would get an A+ from me, but just for fun I've always liked Georgia's Mark Richt whose results, especially in bowl games, (unlike Mason!) speak for themselves but with the school's recent resurgence, even at just 3-4, it should be enough,unfortunately, to save his job. And I was hoping Georgia would do something stupid!