Ideal Candidates for College Football Teams Most Likely to Be Changing Coaches

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistNovember 19, 2018

Ideal Candidates for College Football Teams Most Likely to Be Changing Coaches

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    The coaching carousel is inevitable, and as college football reaches the final week of the 2018 regular season, it's about to start spinning.

    Six positions are currently vacant now that Kansas has officially hired LSU retread Les Miles. More positions are about to open.

    However, 2018 is shaping up as a fascinating year because the number of high-profile jobs will be limited. The group of coaches who deserve a promotion, however, is much larger.

    We've explored every open position and highlighted the three biggest programs likely to engage in a coaching search.

Vacant Power-Conference Jobs

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    West Virginia's Dana Holgorsen is the dream scenario. However, Colorado would be wise to target one of two Mountain West coaches. Matt Wells has guided Utah State to five seasons of bowl eligibility and two 10-win seasons. Jeff Tedford, meanwhile, offers Pac-12 experience and has thrived since taking over at Fresno State.



    The ACC school hopes its coaching search begins and ends with Jeff Brohm, an alum with extensive ties to the program. He's helped resurrect Purdue after its horrid four-year stretch.

    But if Brohm turns down the position, Louisville should swiftly contact Neal Brown. It was surprising the Troy coach didn't gain much traction during the 2017 carousel, and he boasts a 30-7 record since the beginning of the 2016 season.



    Even before moving on from DJ Durkin, the answer has seemingly been in front of Maryland all along. Matt Canada has developed a strong relationship with the program, and a permanent job would be deserved for the well-traveled offensive coordinator.

    Should the Terps look elsewhere, an offense-first coach in Mike Norvell (Memphis) or Seth Littrell (North Texas) would be wise.

Vacant Group of 5 Jobs

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    Bowling Green

    The university should have a simple goal in mind: think local. If, like last time, the athletic director hopped on Google, hopefully you've landed here. First, hello! You can hire me to run your coaching search. Please stop reading now and contact me.

    But if you're not Bob Moosbrugger, do continue. Notre Dame assistant Mike Elston grew up in Ohio and previously coached at Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan and Cincinnati. He knows the MAC. He knows the Midwest.



    Since joining the FBS in 2015, Charlotte has done a whole lot of nothing on offense. The 49ers have ranked no better than 114th in yards per play during any campaign. That needs to change.

    Charlotte's first call should be to Jedd Fisch, an experienced assistant who is currently with the Los Angeles Rams. He elevated passing games at Miami, Michigan and UCLA within the last decade and has spent 2018 learning under offensive genius Sean McVay.


    Texas State

    Make like Bowling Green and think local. Texas is a recruiting hotbed, so it's imperative to target someone with a true understanding of the state. Doing the opposite would be foolish.

    Kendal Briles is a controversial name, and extensive research is necessary. But everywhere he's gone, those offenses score. That much is clear. West Virginia offensive coordinator Jake Spavital, previously a Texas A&M assistant, is also worth monitoring.


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    Prior to the season, Clay Helton received a contract extension. That decision sure looks foolish, as USC is about to miss a bowl game.

    Much of this discussion is focused on athletic director Lynn Swann, who had no experience running a department when he was hired in 2016. But this is Swann's chance to make a splash hire, something USC hasn't done recently despite its brand power.

    The absolute No. 1 choice is likely Penn State's James Franklin. Granted, there's no guarantee he even entertains leaving his current situation, similar to a rising star in Iowa State's Matt Campbell or longtime Utah boss Kyle Whittingham.

    But USC should focus on coaches currently in the college ranks. That trio comprises Plans A, B and C.

North Carolina

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    Larry Fedora probably should've been fired for his ignorant comments at ACC Media Days about the sport. A guaranteed two- or three-win year will be enough to make that decision now.

    North Carolina isn't a great football school, but it's a stepping-stone opportunity. Given the limited number of comparable openings, this is an ideal time for a change.

    Appalachian State's Scott Satterfield should receive the first call, despite the high chance he'd remain at his alma mater. Satterfield has spent 18 of his 21 seasons as a coach in Boone, North Carolina.

    From there, UNC ought to target Seth Littrell. He served as the offensive coordinator during UNC's 11-win season in 2015. North Texas managed one postseason appearance during the 11 years prior to his arrival, and 2018 will mark a third straight bowl berth.

Kansas State

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    This feels like the end of an era.

    Kansas State has reached nine wins 14 times in program history, and every one happened with Bill Snyder leading the way. But the Wildcats are heading in the wrong direction.

    The problem is his inevitable, eventual departure has been quietly contentious. Snyder's preference is reportedly to have his son, Sean, a current assistant, take over the reinsso much so that Bill allegedly blocked the school from hiring Jim Leavitt.

    K-State needs a fresh outlook, though, and Sean has no meaningful experience outside of Manhattan.

    Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables, an alum, is the dream candidate. If he's not interested, the short list should include Seth Littrell (North Texas) and Neal Brown (Troy).