College Football Predictions: Potential Head Coach Landing Spots For 2011

Andrew LeighCorrespondent IJanuary 30, 2011

College Football Predictions: Potential Head Coach Landing Spots For 2011

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    Numerous college football head coaches ended their reigns atop nationally known programs after the 2010 season for various reasons. Some were fired after years of failure, or other off-field issues that led their universities to seek change. Other coaches resigned to pursue other opportunities, leaving their futures uncertain in the rapidly-changing college coaching ranks.

    The head coaching carousel has mostly stopped spinning, as the major vacancies have been filled and most teams are moving ahead in recruiting and planning for the 2011 season.

    But that doesn't mean now's not the time to speculate about the futures of some high-profile former head coaches.

    I'll cover the big names currently without a program, as well as some of the lesser-known coaches let go or departed following the 2010 season. The goal will be to project where each of the following 10 coaches could end up at some point in 2011.

Rich Rodriguez (Fired By Michigan)

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    After an ugly stint as the head coach of the storied Michigan Wolverines, Rich Rodriguez was finally relieved of his coaching duties after a disastrous bowl loss and another down season for the historic school.

    His 15-22 record at the helm of the Wolverines was compounded by the fact that he got the usually squeaky clean football program into its first NCAA hot waters in some time, with issues raised about the length of his practices and his treatment of players.

    So now Rodriguez is jobless, and although he was rumored to be a candidate to join a few schools in the wake of his dismissal, it appears as though he'll sit out 2011 altogether.

    Rodriguez first resurfaced recently as a TV personality, contributing to CBS Sports' coverage of National Signing Day, a huge day for recruiting. It appears he's set on sitting out a year of coaching, but all signs point to him returning as a coach following the 2011 season.

    Will it be at a program as esteemed as Michigan? Almost certainly not, but it still seems likely that Rodriguez can point to his great success at West Virginia and still land a head coach position at a smaller to medium-sized program at the end of the 2011 season.

    He's still considered a good coach by many despite the Michigan flop, but I don't expect we'll see Rich Rodriguez on the sidelines anywhere in 2011.

Urban Meyer (Resigned At Florida)

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    Urban Meyer resigned, this time for real on December 8th, a year after also making a move to step down as head coach of the Florida Gators. The Gators promptly hired former Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, and Meyer is truly out of the picture as Florida head coach after an extremely successful tenure at the helm of the Gator program.

    Now Meyer is unemployed, but is apparently expected to still be a part of the Florida athletic department at least through the end of 2011, although in an unknown capacity.

    Meyer has also made it clear that he intends to not do any coaching during 2011, mirroring the stance of the recently-axed Rich Rodriguez.

    With Meyer, it is supposed to revolve around his health, as he reportedly dealt with a number of issues the last two seasons that drove him away from the game.

    He's already appeared on television once since leaving his post at Florida, working as an analyst for the BCS National Championship game alongside fellow SEC national champion coach, Alabama's Nick Saban.

    If he sits out the regular season of 2011, Meyer will be the biggest name out there on the coaching market for a potential hire, and I don't see him taking a step down in terms of program size and notoriety. Meyer experienced great success during his entire career as a head coach, building great offensive teams and winning national championships behind the Gators and their potent spread offense.

    I think he will end up coaching at one of the bigger college programs, but not until after the 2011 season ends.

Dave Wannstedt (Fired By Pittsburgh)

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    After being fired as head coach of the Pittsburgh Panthers, Dave Wannstedt was linked to a number of different positions in both the NFL and college ranks.

    He was considered for the Cleveland Browns' defensive coordinator job, and was also linked to the San Diego Chargers, Carolina Panthers and Buffalo Bills, potentially as a defensive coordinator.

    Ultimately, though, we now know Wannstedt's destination in 2011: he will be the linebackers coach for Chan Gailey's Bills, as he's headed back to the pro game after not finding a ton of success in the college ranks.

    That's a smart move for Wannstedt, because he has the chance to repair his coaching image after an underwhelming stint in Pittsburgh.

    Is the book closed on him returning to the NCAA? I would think not. If he finds success again as a professional coach of a specific unit, be it eventually rising to defensive coordinator again, I think college programs in need of a leader will come calling.

    Will they be a step up from Pittsburgh? Probably not, but it's feasible a mid-level team in a large conference would look into Wannstedt as a head coach after the 2011 season.

Ralph Friedgen (Fired By Maryland)

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    Ralph Friedgen was let go as the head coach of Maryland after a relatively successful run, capping his career with a bowl win in the Military Bowl. A new athletic director was in place at the university and Friedgen was moved aside in favor of UConn's Randy Edsall.

    That left Friedgen out on the market, and the coach is still a free agent as the winter moves on and other coaching jobs are snatched up.

    The most recent rumor to gain traction was that the Georgia Bulldogs were interested in bringing Friedgen into the fold as their offensive line coach, a rumor that Friedgen and his agent seemed to distance themselves from.

    But it's clear that the veteran offensive-minded coach is in demand, and I wouldn't be surprised if he was hired by Georgia or another high-profile college program to have a say in a team's offensive gameplanning.

    Georgia would be a good fit, but if that falls through, it seems like Friedgen will be at another large program in 2011 to be sure.

Randy Shannon (Fired By Miami)

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    Randy Shannon was relieved of his coaching duties at Miami (FL) after a mixed bag as the Hurricanes' head coach. The team sagged badly late in the season, losing to South Florida at home following a disappointing loss to fellow ACC power Virginia Tech. The team also lost tough games to Florida State (an ugly beating) and lowly Virginia, and Shannon's time as coach came to an end.

    He built strong defenses and is still considered a strong defensive coach, as the Hurricanes had a top-10 national defense during his five-year stretch as defensive coordinator from 2001 through 2006.

    Now Shannon is once again in demand as a defensive coordinator, apparently interviewing this week for the defensive coordinator job at UCLA under Rick Neuheisel. That seems to be an ideal fit for Shannon, as it's a big program and it would allow him to re-establish his abilities as a coach and potentially land another head coaching gig in the future.

    I think he ends up at UCLA running the defense, then moves back into head coaching in another year or two.

Tim Brewster (Fired By Minnesota)

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    Tim Brewster was fired by the Minnesota Golden Gophers after his team opened a severely disappointing 1-6 last season. The team rebounded, pulling off some surprising upsets under interim coach Jeff Horton.

    Brewster has been linked to a few jobs this winter, most notably interviewing for the head coaching job at FCS team Texas State. Brewster withdrew his name from consideration for that job, but it appears that he's still got chances to coach somewhere in 2011, even if it isn't a head coaching job.

    The Pioneer Press had a writer speculate just this weekend that it wouldn't surprise him if Brewster's next job is in the NFL instead of in college, surprising for a coach that was let go by a non-powerhouse Minnesota squad.

    I think Brewster takes an assistant job in the college ranks before 2011, joining a team's offensive staff and helping groom a specific set of position players on offense. That will position him to jump back into head coaching, or if not, potentially being a coordinator somewhere come 2012.

Bill Lynch (Fired By Indiana)

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    Bill Lynch was fired as the head coach of the Indiana Hoosiers after a disappointing run in the Big Ten. Despite seeing good success in recruiting and development, he wasn't able to get the wins the Hoosiers needed to keep the program building towards success. So Lynch was let go, and it's unclear where he'll land in 2011.

    He hasn't been linked to any high-profile jobs, or really any jobs of note out there on the coaching market. He may be taking a year off, or maybe he'll latch on in a lower profile position at another college program. But the market for Lynch's services is definitely not heating up at this point.

Dan Hawkins (Fired By Colorado)

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    Dan Hawkins was fired by the University of Colorado after an uninspiring tenure as head coach, getting accused of nepotism regarding his son, starting quarterback Cody Hawkins, and failing to have a winning record for a once high-profile program.

    Hawkins is now out on the market, still unemployed at this late point in the offseason. He is an offensive-minded coach and saw previous success at Boise State, and was the man who hired current Broncos coach Chris Petersen. I could see Hawkins being brought in as an offensive assistant, if not in 2011, then certainly in time for the 2012 season at a school that needs to revitalize its offensive system.

Stan Parrish (Fired By Ball State)

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    Stan Parrish was fired by Ball State after a pretty poor two years as the head coach, replacing new Michigan head coach Brady Hoke at the top of a usually successful MAC program. This, however, was Parrish's first head coaching job in 20 years, and it ended badly, as he put up a 4-16 record over two years with the Cardinals. He lost to two FCS schools to boot, not a big selling point for a coaching candidate.

    Parrish is older and seems unlikely to find another head coaching job at this point, but he could catch on as a quarterbacks coach or even an offensive coordinator at a smaller school. No news has emerged about his destination for 2011, but he could very well end up as an assistant somewhere in the FBS world.

Michael Haywood (Hired, Then Fired, By Pittsburgh)

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    Michael Haywood was plucked away from Miami (OH) to be Dave Wannstedt's replacement in Pittsburgh, and it seemed to be a positive step for the program as it looked to improve on Wannstedt's performances over recent years.

    But Haywood, soon after his hiring, was arrested on a domestic violence charge. Pittsburgh was forced to fire their new head coach less than three weeks after naming him to the position, a rapid descent for a rising coaching prospect.

    Now Haywood is left to pick up the pieces, dealing with an ugly court situation that tarnishes his reputation across coaching circles. I doubt Haywood will be able to find a job until his domestic issues are fully resolved, but he built up a strong reputation during his time at Miami (OH), and if he is able to sort out his personal life, could find himself re-hired by a college program, perhaps by 2012.