The story with this search got a whole lot more interesting yesterday as Zippy the Roo, Akron’s mascot tweeted that he will announce the next head coach at Akron. Following Arizona’s lead, it appears Akron is not only close to naming their next head coach, they are adding to the social media frenzy that we all follow so fiercely. Akron appears to be down to about five candidates, Mike Johnson (Interim HC UCLA), Paul Winters (HC Wayne State), Pat Narduzzi (DC Michigan State), Mike Stoops (former HC Arizona), and Ed Warriner (OL Notre Dame). Mike Johnson is a former Akron quarterback that has spent most of his coaching career in NFL. He has worked for some of the best coaches in the business, but is from the west coast and most of his coaching ties are there as well. Paul Winters has been the favorite to land the job since they fired Rob Ianello. He is currently preparing for the Division II national championship against D-II powerhouse Pittsburgh State. Most believe the reason the search has taken so long is due to the playoff run that Wayne State has been on, which will conclude on Saturday. Winters has spent the last eight years as head coach at Wayne State compiling a record of 48-42. He is 12-3 this season, had one 9 win season, and one 8 win season. Winters is from Akron, he played at Akron, and coached at Akron before landing this job. He wants the job and he would excite the fan base that wants a coach that is a proven head coach. Mike Stoops, Pat Narduzzi, and Ed Warriner appear to be secondary candidates at this point, but you never know what will happen in college football today.
Over 30 candidates have applied for the Hawaii head coaching job and here is the list of possible candidates that have applied or could be interested in the job. Two current assistants, Rich Miano (Interim HC) and offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich have applied. Miano is serving as the interim coach and he has been on the Hawaii coaching staff for 13 seasons following an 11 year playing career in the NFL. Rolovich is a former quarterback at Hawaii who has been the offensive coordinator since 2009. He is regarded as a top spread offensive mind that may get offers to run other teams’ offenses in the next couple weeks. Two Oregon State assistants have also applied. Mark Banker has been Oregon State’s defensive coordinator since 2003. He is highly regarded as one of the best DC’s on the west coast. Banker has been a long time Mike Riley assistant who did spend one year coaching at Hawaii in 1995. He currently serves as Oregon State’s recruiter for Hawaii and also recruits Los Angeles. Mike Cavanaugh, Oregon State’s OL Coach spent six years as Hawaii’s offensive line coach from 1999-2004 before joining Oregon State’s coaching staff. Ken Niumatalolo is Navy’s head coach and has been since 2007. Niumatalolo is a Hawaii native and alum who has spent the last 14 years at Navy. He has won 32 games since taking over for Paul Johnson and may be tempted to return home to Hawaii. Ivin Jasper is Navy’s offensive coordinator who is a Los Angeles native who played quarterback at Hawaii from 1991-1993. Dirk Koetter (OC Jacksonville Jaguars) has been talked about for every job on the west coast and appears to be interested in this one. Koetter won 66 games in nine seasons as head coach at Boise State and Arizona State. He only had one losing season out of those nine. Both Utah coordinators appear to be interested as Norm Chow and Kalani Fifita Sitake appear to be interested. Chow is a Honolulu native and is widely regarded as one of the best pro style coordinators still left in college football. Chow is a fantastic offensive mind that has spent most of his career at BYU and USC. Sitaki has been on the Utah coaching staff for seven seasons and is in his third year as defensive coordinator. Two good friends Duane Akina and Brian Norwood also seem to be involved. Akina is a long time Texas assistant who is from Honolulu and spent five years as an assistant from 1979-1983. Brian Norwood is Baylor’s Associate head coach who is from Honolulu and also played at Hawaii. Brian Cabral, longtime Colorado assistant coach also is interested in the job as he grew up in Kailua, Hawaii. Cabral has recruited Hawaii pretty successfully for a long time and it has been said that he would love to return to Hawaii.
There are plenty of qualified candidates for this position and it appears that Hawaii is beginning the interviewing stage of this process. Probably a decision should be made by Christmas or soon after.
Houston’s athletic director Mack Rhoades has quite the full plate with recently entering the Big East conference, new football stadium in the works, coordinating a bowl trip, and most importantly finding a new head football coach. Two coaches on staff that most definitely have to in consideration are interim head coach Tony Levine and co-offensive coordinator Jason Phillips. Levine was a surprising choice for people outside the Houston program for interim head coach as all signs pointed to Phillips getting that title. Levine appears to be Rhoades’ favorite on the current staff and probably holds the best chance of receiving the head coaching job. Levine is a special team’s guru who has worked for Bobby Petrino and spent some time in the NFL. Phillips is a Houston native and alum that has really proved to be a fantastic recruiter. Some believe that he has hurt his chances by pursuing other opportunities (Tulane and Florida Atlantic). Chad Morris (OC Clemson) would probably be interested if Houston could now afford him after he signed a monstrous deal to stay at Clemson as OC. Morris is a Texas native and longtime high school coach who would certainly be able to regain his coaching alliances quickly in regards to recruiting. Houston Nutt has expressed interest in the job although I have not heard many rumblings that he is a legitimate candidate. Mark Stoops (DC Florida State) spent one year at Houston in 2000 before heading to Miami. He is ready for his opportunity and has been linked to several other job postings around the country. Todd Monken (OC Oklahoma State) is more the flavor of the month as far as football coaches and has interviewed for other head jobs (Southern Miss and Illinois). Sonny Dykes (HC Louisiana Tech) is an interesting candidate that appears to be towards the top of Rhoades’ list. He is a born and raised Texas guy who is a top offensive mind. I am not sure if Dykes would take a somewhat lateral move with this job, but weirder things have happened. Tyke Tolbert (WR Coach Denver Broncos) has apparently impressed Rhoades’ and the search committee. Tolbert is a Texas native that played at LSU and has spent the last nine seasons as a wide receivers coach in NFL. Willie Fritz (HC Sam Houston State) is a name that has to be discussed due to his impressive run at Sam Houston State. He has been linked to other jobs (Tulane) and has won wherever he has been a head coach (Central Missouri and Blinn JC). Joe DeForest (Assoc. HC/S Coach/STC Oklahoma State) is a highly respected coach that spent four seasons at crosstown rival Rice (1990-1993). He recruits Houston as well as anyone in the country and most believe he is ready for his first head coaching opportunity. Houston appears to still be in the interviewing stage as well and I don’t foresee a quick decision with this coaching search. Expect the new head coach at Houston to be announced soon after or right before Christmas.
Penn State will likely wait until January to announce their head coach….at least that is what most people believe at this point. We have heard people that have interest in the job and recently there are reports showing Penn State is actually contacting people. Kyle Whittingham (HC Utah) was said to be contacted, but he is in the process of signing an extension and won’t be heading to Happy Valley. Ken Niumatalolo (HC Navy) is a hot name, but he denied having contact with Penn State officials. Penn State didn’t deny having contact with Duke’s head coach David Cutcliffe who is said to also having been contacted by the university. Cutcliffe would be an excellent choice as he has done a nice job getting Duke to a respectable level and runs a very clean and respectful program. He is a veteran in the profession that is well respected and that may bode well for a university that really needs a new direction. I have mentioned Tom Clements (QB Coach Green Bay Packers), Darren Perry (DB Coach Green Bay Packers), Greg Manusky (DC San Diego Chargers), and Tim Murphy (HC Harvard) as potential candidates in other blog entries and there is nothing new to report in regards to their names to this search. Dan Mullen (HC Mississippi State) doesn’t appear to be headed anywhere as he signed an extension today to stay at Mississippi State and it is highly unlikely that he ends up with this job. New York Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine Jr. appears to be gaining steam as he is a Pennsylvania native who is very highly regarded amongst the football people in the state. He is the son of a legendary high school coach at Central Bucks West in Doylestown, PA and played for George Welsh at Virginia. He has spent the last 10 seasons in the NFL working under Rex Ryan with the Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets. I am kind of surprised that Paul Rhoads (HC Iowa State) hasn’t gotten more press in regards to this job. He has done a fantastic job with the Iowa State program and spent seven seasons as defensive coordinator at Pittsburgh. This search has certainly gained plenty of interest amongst coaches, but it has been kept under wraps very well by the Penn State administration.
The shock is beginning to wear off in Pittsburgh after Todd Graham bolted for Arizona State yesterday. Graham didn’t necessarily make a lot of friends yesterday with the way he told his players or how he resigned from the job when Pittsburgh denied Arizona State’s request to talk to Graham. Pittsburgh is now looking for their fourth head coach in the last 14 months or so and definitely needs to hire someone that will bring stability and continuity to the program that isn’t in bad shape. Wannstedt didn’t leave the cupboard bare and Graham did a decent job recruiting at the end of last year’s recruiting process. Sal Sunseri (LB Coach Alabama) makes a lot of sense and I believe is the type of coach this program needs. He is Pittsburgh alum and was a longtime Pittsburgh assistant. He is an excellent recruiter and his son is currently the starting quarterback (that can be a plus or a minus). Sunseri has done a great job aiding in the best defense in the country the last three seasons at Alabama. Frank Cignetti (OC Rutgers) was a favorite while the offensive coordinator in 2009 and 2010. He is the son of legendary coach Frank Cignetti Sr. He is widely regarded as a top offensive mind in college football spending time at Fresno State, California, North Carolina, and now Rutgers where he did a great job this season. Paul Rhoads (HC Iowa State) spent seven seasons as defensive coordinator at Pittsburgh and has done a fantastic job with the Iowa State program. I don’t believe that Rhoads will leave his home state for the Pittsburgh job, but I have been wrong before. Randy Shannon (former HC Miami) is another name that has been discussed. Shannon has certainly expressed his interest in getting back into the game; however, at this point it is still speculation to who is being targeted by Pittsburgh. Mario Cristobal (HC Florida International) is another hot name among opening around college football. Cristobal is a Miami native and alum who has done a fantastic job turning around the Florida International football program. Mark Stoops (DC Florida State) is yet another highly respected coordinator that should get a look with his ties to the area (he is from Youngstown, OH). Teryl Austin (DB Baltimore Ravens) is a former Pittsburgh defensive back that is very highly respected amongst football coaches at the college and NFL level. He has spent time at Michigan, Penn State, Wake Forest, Florida, and Syracuse at the college level while spending time with the Seahawks, Cardinals, and now the Ravens at the NFL level. Clearly this search is in the early stages and I would recommend Pittsburgh to take their time with the search. Many people are calling for Pittsburgh to fire Steve Pederson and I have to say that they have quite the argument. It is not acceptable to have a revolving door in the football program. Pittsburgh is a desirable job and they will land a top notch coach that will hopefully bring stability to the program.
Southern Miss is being very aggressive in their search and it appears they want to move very quickly. Sources have said the search could be done by Friday with a new head coach being named at the beginning of next week if not sooner. Seven candidates seem to be standing out and it is possible that all seven have already interviewed for the position. Blake Anderson (OC Southern Miss) reportedly interviewed Tuesday for the position. Anderson is a Fedora protégé who has been given high praises by fellow coaches including Fedora. Jay Johnson (OC Louisiana-Lafayette) is a former OC at Southern Miss under longtime head coach Jeff Bower. He did a nice job at Southern Miss and has done a great job running Mark Hudspeth’s offense this year at Lafayette. Tyrone Nix (former Ole Miss DC) is a highly respected defensive coach who put some great defenses together while DC at Southern Miss, South Carolina, and Ole Miss. Urban Meyer tried to hire him when he was at Florida. Nix is Southern Miss alum and was rumored to be interviewed either yesterday or today. Ellis Johnson (DC South Carolina) is a highly respected, veteran defensive coordinator who has spent time at Southern Miss in the late 1980’s. He has been the defensive coordinator at Clemson, Alabama, and Mississippi State. He was the head coach at the Citadel from 2001-2003 winning 12 games in three years and the word is, he really wants to be a head coach again before he retires. Kirby Smart (DC Alabama) is one of the hottest assistants in the country. He was said to be very involved in the Ole Miss search and almost got that job. Smart is a Saban protégé (that alone gets you respect around college football) who has the endorsement of Saban saying “he would make a great head coach.” Chris Hatcher (HC Murray State) is another candidate who has reportedly interviewed over the last couple days. Hatcher was once one of the hottest names in college football as head coach at Valdosta State. He is a Hal Mumme disciple (Mike Leach and Dana Holgorsen) who lost some steam after getting fired after a 5-6 record in his third year at Georgia Southern. He quickly got another shot at Murray State and has done a nice job winning 13 games in two years there. He has won 107 games in 12 years as a head coach with two division II national championships. Todd Monken (OC Oklahoma State) and Frank Wilson (RB Coach LSU) are other names that have been discussed in regards to this job.