Coaching Candidates for the Nebraska job and one that would shock college football
On Sunday, Nebraska fired their head football coach Scott Frost after a disastrous four-year run at his alma mater which he compiled a 16-31 record and brought a new level of shame to one of the most proud and dedicated fan bases in college football. Athletic Director Trev Alberts was the first athletic director to start the football coaching carousel this season. Here are some of the names that I think he should be looking at for this position and the pros and cons of each candidate:
Home Run Hires
Luke Fickell (Head Football Coach at the University of Cincinnati)
Pros: Fickell has built Cincinnati into a formidable program that has done a great job of recruiting and developing players and is coming off an appearance in the College Football Playoff last year. In addition, he has won 44 out of his last 51 games and has beaten bigger programs such as Notre Dame, UCLA, Virginia Tech in his time at Cincinnati.
Cons: Coach Fickell reportedly has turned down other jobs better than the Nebraska job in the past and is widely expected to only leave Cincinnati to coach at his alma mater which is Ohio State.
Matt Campbell (Head Football Coach at Iowa State University)
Pros: Campbell has turned a program that was a doormat in the Big 12 into a program that constantly competes for the conference championship and has done in at a place that does not have nearly the resources that Nebraska has.
Cons: While Campbell does have wins over conference heavyweights Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, etc. He is yet to win the Big 12 and is 1-6 against in-state rival Iowa which if he took the job at Nebraska he would have to play every year.
Mark Stoops (Head Football Coach at University of Kentucky)
Pros: Before he was hired as the coach at Kentucky, the Wildcats had been to five bowl games since 2000; Stoops has taken them to six bowl games as the head coach since he took over in 2013. He has done a great job of recruiting high school players in Ohio, Virginia, Tennessee and other places that were dominated by other high profile programs in the SEC, ACC and Big Ten.
Also, he may be looking for a school were football is king and not an after thought like it is in Kentucky. He plays in the loaded SEC East with Georgia, Florida and a resurgent Tennessee program and may be looking to play a more relaxed schedule in the Big Ten West.
Cons: Stoops is from Ohio and has deep connections there and because of the proximity of the University of Kentucky it can be easy sell to recruits who get overlooked by other powerhouse programs that recruit in the area and a have a chip on their shoulder. It could be a hard sell to convince those players to go all the way to Nebraska when they could play at a program closer to home and would have a better chance of playing for a national championship. Based on that, he may want to wait for another job that has more of a recruiting advantage.
“If we have to hire them, it is not the worst thing”
Chris Kleiman (Head Coach at Kansas State University)
Pros: Kleiman is familiar with recruiting in the Great Plains area as he spent 6 years coaching at Norther Iowa and 4 years coaching at North Dakota State. His teams tend to play physical, fundamental football that would have Nebraska fans feeling nostalgic about their great teams of the 80’s and 90’s. Also, Nebraska has the financial resources to probably dwarf what he is making at Kansas State.
Cons: Kleiman has been solid at Kansas State so far, but you wonder could he compete with programs such as Michigan, Penn State, Ohio State and Wisconsin in the Big Ten. According to 247 sports, the 2022 recruiting class is ranked 9th in the Big 12 (Note: It is only ten teams in the Big 12) and nationally ranked in the mid-60’s which would probably not cut it the competitive Big Ten.
Lance Leipold (Head Football Coach at the University of Kansas)
Pros: He has taken probably the worst Power Five program and has made the team respectable. This year, the team has started 2-0. The last time that Kansas was 2-0 Oprah Winfrey was still producing her daily talk show and Kim Kardashian had just married husband number two (Kris Humphries for those of you keeping score). Leipold also took a morbid program at Buffalo and turn them around wining 24 out his last 37 games at Buffalo and taking the team to three straight bowl games. In addition, Leipold was an assistant coach at Nebraska from 2001-2003 so he is familiar with the expectations of the job.
Cons: While he gets lots of kudos for bringing some winning ways to his previous stops, he does have a career record of 41-43 and he just went 2-10 last year at Kansas. In those defeats in 2021, the average margin of defeat was 26.6 points. Ouch!! Trying selling that to boosters.
Tom Herman (Offensive Analyst for the Chicago Bears)
Pros: Is an offensive mastermind (literally), who has a career record of 54-22 as college football head coach and was the offensive coordinator at Ohio State when they won the national championship in 2014. Hermann has worked with a variety of different types of quarterbacks from dual threat Greg Ward Jr at Houston who later became a wide receiver in the NFL to a pocket quarterback Shane Buechele who is currently the third string quarterback for Kansas City Chiefs. He had the most wins at Texas since Mack Brown left and has won more than 9 games in a season four out of the six years, he has been a head coach. Herman spent three seasons coaching at Iowa State so he would be familiar with the area and could possibly use his Texas roots to attract athletes to Nebraska.
Cons: His teams at Texas had a habit of losing close games and committing dumb penalties in crucial situations (sound familiar Husker fans?). While he has a way of putting points on the board, the defenses that he had at Texas ranked in the mid 50’s and he had an 8-10 record vs ranked teams when he was at Texas.
Bill O’Brien (University of Alabama Offensive Coordinator)
Pros: He has worked with some really great quarterbacks in college and the NFL (Tom Brady, Deshaun Watson and Bryce Young) and they had great years with him as their offensive coordinator and head coach. Also, he became the head coach at Penn State after the Jerry Sandusky scandal and gave the program some stability and led them to winning records in both of his seasons at State College. Currently, he is the offensive coordinator at Alabama and while this Alabama team is not as explosive as they normally are, he is still putting them to be in position to win games week after week with his play calling.
Cons: While the majority of his career has been spent in college as an assistant or offensive coordinator, you would think he may want a return to the NFL to improve on his coaching record in the pros (54-52) or maybe seek a more higher profile job in college football that may become vacant soon. Also, the longest he has ever been at one job was when he coached the Houston Texans from 2014-2020 so the Nebraska may be a stepping stone to another position.
“I did not see that coming at all!”
Urban Meyer (Current analyst for Fox Sports)
Pros: Now before you just think me mentioning Urban Meyer is click bait, please keep in mind that last time this year there was a feeling he could be the next football coach at USC. He has won three national championships and has resurrected several programs (Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and Ohio State) after getting the job as the head football coach at those schools. Obviously, he knows the Big Ten from his time at Ohio State and would bring a buzz to Lincoln that some boosters would love for Nebraska to have.
Cons: Where do I begin? His disastrous stint as the Jacksonville Jaguars coach that did not last the entire season, A former player suing the Jaguars because he alleged that Meyer kicked him , Hiring a strength coach for the Jaguars that was let go at the University of Iowa because of his racist treatment toward African American players and then firing him less than two weeks on the job, and then let’s not forget the “Thursday night lap dance special” that he got in Columbus, Ohio after losing the Bengals. All of those things and I still have not mentioned his health issues, how he handled his assistant coach at Ohio State off-field conduct and domestic violence case and some off-field incidents that happened when he was at the University of Florida.
Ah, forget I said anything about him, Trev. Best of luck in your search!
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