Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun, right, yells an official after call during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game against Colorado State at Air Force Academy, Colo., on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski
December 01, 2014

When trying to figure out which direction a school might take with its next head coach, often it helps to assess the athletic director for tendencies.

At Nebraska, that won't work. Athletic director Shawn Eichorst has only been at Nebraska for two years after a stint as AD at Miami, where his biggest job was helping the school navigate an NCAA investigation.

He has a reputation as something of a mystery man who goes about his business away from the public eye. He doesn't meet much with the Nebraska media, though he did hold a news conference Sunday after he fired Bo Pelini after seven years of very good, but not great results.

Can Nebraska again be a program that competes for national championships consistently the way it did in the 1970s, `80s and `90s?

''My response to that is Nebraska has everything it needs to be successful at the highest level,'' Eichorst said. ''We can go back and analyze the 80's and 90's and all that other sort of stuff but that is not going to help us out today.

''I think we are positioned to play championship-caliber football here at the University of Nebraska.''

It's anybody's guess who is on Eichorst's radar but here are some names already being thrown around.

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Craig Bohl, Wyoming head coach. Bohl just completed the first season of a rebuild at Wyoming (4-8) after winning three straight FCS national championships at North Dakota State. The 56-year-old coach is a former Huskers player and assistant (1995-2002), and a Lincoln, Nebraska, native, though his time as a coach at Nebraska didn't end well. He was fired as defensive coordinator and replaced by Pelini. Also, leaving any job after one year is difficult.

Troy Calhoun, Air Force coach. The 48-year-old did this season one of the hardest things there is to do in coaching: He righted what looked like a sinking ship. The Falcons had been trending the wrong direction for three seasons and hit bottom last year, going 2-10. This season, they are 9-3 with victories against Boise State and Colorado State. Big schools have shown interest in him before, notably Tennessee. He could bring the triple-option back to Nebraska, or at least a version of it. He also spent four seasons in the NFL, one as offensive coordinator of the Houston Texans.

Scott Frost, Oregon offensive coordinator. There is a segment of the Husker nation that would love to welcome home the former Cornhuskers quarterback and Nebraska native, despite his youth and inexperience. The 39-year-old Frost has been an assistant at Oregon since 2009, the last two years as offensive coordinator under Mark Helfrich. He might be a rising star, but a lot of people could look good calling plays for Marcus Mariota.

Jerry Kill, Minnesota head coach. Nebraska has some recruiting problems. With fewer top players coming out of the Midwest, and the southern schools thriving by keeping most of their best close to home, the Cornhuskers have had to make do with less elite talent. The 53-year-old Kill has shown he can get two- and three-star recruits to compete with fours and fives. And his teams play a rugged style that would go over well with Huskers fans. Before turning around Minnesota, he righted a Northern Illinois program that had lost its way. Before that he had Southern Illinois competing for FCS championships.

Pat Narduzzi, Michigan State defensive coordinator. Speaking of more with less, Michigan State and coach Mark Dantonio have mastered the art of evaluation or development. So why not try to steal Dantonio's top lieutenant? The downside: The 48-year-old Narduzzi has never been a head coach, and Nebraska just fired a fiery former defensive coordinator who had never been a head coach.

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Other possibilities: Justin Fuente, Memphis; Jim McElwain, Colorado State; Matt Wells, Utah State.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP

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