Nebraska Football: If Cornhuskers' Bo Pelini Goes, Which Coach Is Big Ten-Bound?

Brandon CavanaughCorrespondent IApril 28, 2011

Nebraska Football: If Cornhuskers' Bo Pelini Goes, Which Coach Is Big Ten-Bound?

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    LINCOLN, NE - NOVEMBER 13: Coach Bo Pelini of the Nebraska Cornhuskers leads his team onto the field to play the Kansas Jayhawks at Memorial Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska Defeated Kansas 20-3. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Ima
    Eric Francis/Getty Images

    Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Bo Pelini just signed a brand new contract that made him one of the highest-paid coaches in the Big Ten conference—but what if he hadn’t?

    Late last season there was some conflict between Pelini and the Nebraska brass, but things were ironed out and the Cornhuskers move forward towards their first season in the Big Ten with a secured head coach.

    If Pelini were to bolt or wasn’t on the Nebraska sideline for some reason following 2011, who are then 10 most likely coaches to be courted by the Big Red?

Paul Rhodes, Iowa State

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    Rhodes’ name has been floated around Nebraska fans’ circles not only for his coaching prowess, but how he’s taken to the culture in Ames, Iowa.

    The Cyclones haven't had much to cheer about lately, but you wouldn't know that by talking to Rhodes.

    Iowa State upset Nebraska once during his short tenure and almost did so again last season. If there is an opening, Rhodes’ phone might ring.

Kevin Sumlin, Houston

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    PASADENA, CA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Head coach Kevin Sumlin of the Houston Cougars leads his team onto the field before the game with the UCLA Bruins at the Rose Bowl on September 18, 2010 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Kevin Sumlin’s turned Houston into a program that’s gotten some decent publicity as of late.

    He’s had Case Keenum to help, but Sumlin guided Houston to a bowl game two out of three years under his watch.

    He also brought the Cougars into the top 25 polls and was a finalist for the 2009 Paul "Bear" Bryant National Coach of the Year Award.

    Having served under Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops as an offensive coordinator, Sumlin does have a slight Cardinal Mooney High School connection, too.

Jeff Tedford, Cal

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    BERKELEY, CA - NOVEMBER 20:  Head coach Jeff Tedford of the California Golden Bears watches his team play their game against the Stanford Cardinal at California Memorial Stadium on November 20, 2010 in Berkeley, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Imag
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Currently second on Cal’s all-time win list for any head coach, Tedford’s would be a name worth tossing around during a Cornhusker coaching search.

    During the year prior to his arrival in 2001, Cal only won one game.

    Tedford led the Golden Bears to a school-record seven straight bowl appearances (2003-09) and has made Cal a school to be contended with in the Pac-12.

    With his connections to one of the most talent-rich states in all of college football, it would behoove Nebraska to glance over his resume.

Todd Graham, Pittsburgh

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    Sure, Graham just got to Pittsburgh after leading a surprisingly-surging Tulsa Golden Hurricane, but why eat hamburger when you can have a nice, thick porterhouse?

    No Tulsa head coach was more successful than Graham as he posted three 10-plus win seasons out of his four with the Golden Hurricane.

    He also has plenty of connections in Texas which would come in handy during recruiting future Cornhuskers in a very talent-rich area.

Mike Riley, Oregon State

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    PALO ALTO, CA - NOVEMBER 27:  Head coach Mike Riley of the Oregon State Beavers walks on to the field for their game against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium on November 27, 2010 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Riley’s a coach that provides a solid bang for your buck.

    He was named the 2008 Pac-10 Coach of the Year, is 5-1 in bowl games and has brought the Beavers into frequent competition in the conference.

    His teams knocked off USC twice in three seasons.

    The Trojans were ranked No. 3 (2007) and No. 1 (2009).

    Providing Riley with better facilities and stronger tradition might be just the thing to help him break through with elite results.

Troy Calhoun, Air Force

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    FORT WORTH, TX - OCTOBER 23:  Head coach Troy Calhoun of the Air Force Falcons leads his team on the field against the TCU Horned Frogs at Amon G. Carter Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    A name that has been brought up every now and again, Calhoun has done rather well for himself at Air Force.

    The former Air Force quarterback and Houston Texans offensive coordinator boasts a 34-18 record and was named the 2007 Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year.

    At 45 years of age, Calhoun is still a young pup who has experience at all levels much like Pelini.

    While he has more of a flair for the offensive side of the ball, his knowledge combined with a hard-nosed defensive coordinator could make quite the pairing for Nebraska.

Kyle Whittingham, Utah

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    EUGENE, OR - SEPTEMBER 19:  Head coach Kyle Whittingham of the Utah Utes works the sidelines in the second quarter of the game against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium on September 19, 2009 in Eugene, Oregon. Oregon won the game 31-24. (Photo by Steve D
    Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    Kyle Whittingham started his journey at the University of Utah seven years ago after the best season that the Utes had ever seen.

    Standing on the Fiesta Bowl sideline as co-head coach with Urban Meyer, he shared in a memorable victory and never looked back.

    Named the 2008 Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year, 2008 AFCA Coach of the Year and the recipient of the 2008 Paul “Bear” Bryant Award, Whittingham clearly knows a thing or two about how to coach a football team.

    His 58-20 overall record (6-1 in bowls) helps prop that idea up, too.

    He hasn’t had a team win less than ten games since 2007 and at worse won seven games during his first season.

    Nebraska could do far worse than the Utes’ head man.

Steve Sarkisian, Washington

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    TUCSON, AZ - OCTOBER 23:  Head coach Steve Sarkisian of the Washington Huskies during the college football game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Tucson, Arizona.   The Wildcats defeated the Huskies 44-14.  (Photo by C
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The man who out-coached Pelini in the 2010 Holiday Bowl might be in the Cornhuskers’ cross-hairs should Bo vacate his spot.

    Sarkisian’s record at Washington isn’t fantastic at 12-13, but the Huskies were abysmal before his arrival.

    A former quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator for Southern Cal, Sarkisian looks to have the Huskies headed for overall success.

    He’ll see the Cornhuskers for the third time in two years early in September, but one has to wonder if he couldn’t see himself on the opposing sideline some day.

Chris Peterson, Boise State

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    Peterson has done wonders for Boise State and is probably pretty happy that Dan Hawkins decided to high-tail it to Colorado.

    There are bigger challenges to be conquered and Peterson can either hope for the best when it comes to his Broncos getting respect or he could be a part of one of the most tradition-rich schools in the sport’s oldest conference.

    Peterson took players that few schools wanted like Austin Pettis and Kellen Moore then turned them into household names.

    One can only imagine what he’d be able to do with Nebraska’s pull and prestige.

Gary Patterson, TCU

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    PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01:  Head coach Gary Patterson of the TCU Horned Frogs stands on the sidelines against the Wisconsin Badgers during the 97th Rose Bowl game on January 1, 2011 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    A hard-nosed, passionate former football player who has spent most of his career dedicated to the defensive side of the ball.

    Sound familiar?

    If Bo Pelini had a clone in today’s college football landscape, Gary Patterson’s about as close as you’d find.

    Patterson not only preaches the same manner of physical football as Pelini, he now has a win over Big Ten brute Wisconsin as a feather in his cap.

    His Horned Frogs have won 10-plus games seven times during his 10 years as head coach at TCU.

    With Patterson's deep roots in Texas high schools, sticking him in Lincoln with all of the toys at his disposal to crank out powerhouse football players might be one of the best things Cornhusker fans could hope for post-Pelini.

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