Look no further: Presenting the ideal candidate for each open FBS job as the coaching carousel heats up
Here at Staples & Associates, we understand the firing and hiring of football coaches is a hectic business. We know you, the on-the-go athletic director, can't be expected to do all the heavy lifting for the national search to replace the coach you just paid to go away. After all, you're only paid $900,000 a year. That's far too little to expect you to handle a decision of this magnitude all by your lonesome.
We also know you like a bargain. Other search firms will charge your athletic department anywhere from $75,000 to $150,000 to help you research candidates, perform background checks and reach out to the candidates' agents so neither you nor your targets have to admit any communication when asked by nosy reporters. Staples & Associates will charge you $19,999.95. And if you call within two hours of this posting, we'll knock that down to $14,999.95. That's a $150,000 value for only $14,999.95. That's a 90% savings. How can we charge such low prices?
With 13 FBS jobs already available and Virginia, Rutgers and maybe a couple of biggies likely to open soon, these vacancies and their requisite dominoes will allow us to do enough volume to make a comfortable living. Also, we're only going to offer you one candidate. Why just one? Because we're going to offer you the perfect candidate*. If you like him, hire him. If not, then waste your money on those other guys.
*No search firm can guarantee a completely perfect candidate. USC athletic director Pat Haden hired a search firm to vet Steve Sarkisian before hiring him, and look where that got the Trojans. We'll do the best we can, but we're not miracle workers. We're looking at you, Iowa State.
Before you commit to wiring money to our offshore account, you probably want to see what we can do. Like most search firms, we can provide you with the same list of candidates a well-written Google search would generate. But we do it with style. So, without further adieu, here are the perfect coaches for each open job.
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You're hiring: Former SMU (and Hawaii and Atlanta Falcons and San Diego Chargers) coach June Jones
Jones was the last coach to win at Hawaii (76–41 from 1999-2007), and during his miserable final season at SMU in '14 he was wishing he could feel the island breezes. We here at Staples & Associates watch a lot of HGTV, and if we've learned anything from House Hunters, it's that houses in Hawaii are terribly expensive. Hire anyone but Jones and he'll demand a fortune so he can live in something bigger than a three-bedroom ranch style. Jones already has a house in Hawaii, so you're halfway there.
You're hiring: Illinois interim coach Bill Cubit
Hiring the interim coach may sound like a boring option, but you have an interim athletic director and an interim chancellor. Now is not the time to make permanent decisions that could become expensive to undo if the new athletic director or the new chancellor doesn't like the football coach. Cubit has done a decent job under difficult circumstances this year, going 5–6, and his players would run through a wall for him. Give him a shot—but on the cheap—and if things don't work out, let the new AD make the decision.
You're hiring: Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo
The program with the biggest recruiting disadvantage in each Power Five conference should run the option or some other rare, disruptive scheme. The option is a great change-up that, when run properly, can be a big-play offense. It also allows schools to recruit from an entirely different pool of players than their league rivals. Option teams don't need five-star quarterbacks. They need three-star players who Rivals.com labels "athletes" and who don't want to stop playing quarterback after they leave high school. They don't need 320-pound offensive guards. They can thrive with 285-pounders. Niumatalolo's Navy teams run the option better than just about anyone. You're not going to win in Ames doing things the same way as the rest of the Big 12. So, it's time to make a big switch.
You're hiring: LSU defensive line coach Ed Orgeron
Coach O made a lot of mistakes as the Ole Miss head coach from 2005-07. But he was excellent as USC's interim coach in '13 after Lane Kiffin's firing. He said then that he had learned from his prior experience, and if he ever got the opportunity to run his own program again, he wouldn't make the same mistakes. It's time to give him that chance. Orgeron is a Louisiana native who can evaluate and recruit better than most of the coaches in America. He is also an excellent motivator. And though this skill is far less useful now than it was in 2005, he can sell the heck out of some Hummers. Tell 'em about it, JoJo.
You're hiring: Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost
You want to be Under Armour's version of Oregon, and there is no reason you can't be. After all, College Park sits much closer to top high school talent than Eugene. Athletic director Kevin Anderson said when he fired Randy Edsall in October that he wanted a coach who ran an exciting offense. It doesn't get much more exciting than Oregon's offense, so why not hire the guy who calls the plays? Frost worked with quarterback Marcus Mariota during his Heisman Trophy run and Vernon Adams Jr. this year, and Frost understands the cultural shift required—in terms of recruiting, conditioning, practicing and meeting—to make that offense work. Frost would need to hire some assistants familiar with recruiting in this region, but there are plenty of good ones out there. If Anderson would approve the dough to hire him, current Virginia Tech coordinator Bud Foster would be the ideal candidate to run the defense.
You're hiring: Bowling Green coach Dino Babers
Your first year would involve quarterback Brad Kaaya running the Baylor offense with South Florida skill players around him. Just make sure to send Staples & Associates a 2016 ACC Coastal Division champions T-shirt. You're welcome.
You're hiring: Houston coach Tom Herman
If he'll come. Herman might actually be better off sitting out this coaching carousel, taking $3 million a year to stay at Houston and waiting to see if the Texas job opens after next season. But if Herman feels ready to make the jump, he might do it for Missouri's Mack Rhoades, the athletic director who hired him at Houston. Herman filled his Cougars staff with assistants who can recruit Texas. Missouri, after getting as many homegrown players as possible, found some gems in the Lone Star State under Gary Pinkel.
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You're hiring: Texas A&M offensive coordinator Jake Spavital
Spavital is young (30), but that just means he has the energy to take on one of college football's toughest jobs. There are plenty of good players around Denton, Texas, and a guy who grew up in Tulsa and worked in College Station will have the ties to mine high schools in Oklahoma and Texas for talent. The seat is hot for Spavital at Texas A&M, but the Aggies' 2015 offensive issues aren't entirely on him. Maybe a change would be the best thing for both parties.
You're hiring: North Carolina coach Larry Fedora
Considering the fact that he has had to spend the last few years recruiting through an academic scandal that took place before he was hired, Fedora has done a phenomenal job in Chapel Hill. He knows how to recruit the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida. That's where the Gamecocks get most of their players, and they need someone familiar with the region. Also, South Carolina can provide the coin necessary to keep defensive coordinator Gene Chizik—who completely turned around the Tar Heels' defense—on staff. The NCAA still hasn't decided how it will punish North Carolina for that academic scandal. While it's possible the football program, which already was punished following a 2010 investigation, might not get hit hard, Fedora probably shouldn't risk it if similar programs are dangling more money.
You're hiring: Coastal Carolina coach Joe Moglia
This is one of those programs that needs to think differently. The Orange can't amass enough talent to play exactly like the top teams in the ACC and expect to win. So, they must innovate. That's what the former Ameritrade CEO is doing at Coastal Carolina, and he could be just what Syracuse needs. Plus, imagine a recruit is interested in a business degree. Following this hire, he could attend a school with an excellent academic reputation and get coached by a guy who has Warren Buffett's number in his phone. That could provide an edge that could help Syracuse land some players who typically wouldn't consider the Orange.
You're hiring: Florida defensive coordinator Geoff Collins
This is an excellent job, and the correct coach could ride it into the Power Five either by winning in Orlando and jumping to a bigger program or by winning enough in Orlando that the Knights earn a golden ticket in the next round of conference realignment. Collins worked at UCF from 2008-09, so he understands the program's potential. His work at Mississippi State from 2011-14 and with the Gators this season has been outstanding. Make his Swag Chalice runneth over, and he could bring his psycho defense two hours south.
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You're hiring: Bill O'Brien
O.K., so the Houston Texans have rebounded of late with three consecutive wins to get to 5–5 in a weak AFC South. But if the team that lost 44–26 to the Miami Dolphins shows up again, O'Brien might decide he preferred life as a college head coach. USC is the type of program that can pile up enough talent to win big with a pro-style offense. Give O'Brien his pick of quarterbacks from Orange County and his pick of receivers from across the Southland and he would create an offense that would pile up points. We also know O'Brien can recruit. Christian Hackenberg stuck with Penn State in part because of O'Brien, and while USC mostly recruits itself, O'Brien's personality could win some head-to-head recruiting matchups against other schools that mostly recruit themselves. At issue is when O'Brien might become available. If the Texans remain in the playoff hunt, neither the Trojans nor any other college program would get a crack at him until January. But this isn't a deal-breaker. Michigan didn't hire Jim Harbaugh until late December. That worked out fine. USC is a good enough job to have its pick of candidates even if it has to wait until January* for its top choice.
*This is another reason why it might be wise for Herman to elect to wait out the coaching carousel through December. If the Trojans hold out for O'Brien or Chip Kelly and both wind up staying in the NFL, Herman might be able to slide into the USC job.
You're hiring: Memphis coach Justin Fuente
Fuente worked a miracle at Memphis, taking over a program that had won five games in the three seasons before he arrived and making it a contender in a better conference than the one in which his predecessors coached. He found quarterback Paxton Lynch in suburban Orlando when nearly everyone else passed on him, and then Fuente started Lynch as a redshirt freshman even though it was an unpopular choice among the fan base. Lynch has proven Fuente correct over and over again. Hokies fans starved for a dynamic offense would love to see that in Blacksburg. If Fuente could somehow manage to convince Foster to stay on as defensive coordinator, that would be a potent combination.
And here's a bonus candidate for a job that isn't yet open but seems likely to open within the next week …
You're hiring: Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher
While there are plenty of valid arguments to be made against firing Les Miles, LSU's brass seems to have made up its made on the subject. And you don't need a search firm to know the obvious candidate to replace him is Fisher, who turned Florida State back into a juggernaut after the program dipped in the waning years of Bobby Bowden's tenure. Would this be a good move? It's difficult to say. Florida State is about to become a tougher job than it has been because it appears Jim McElwain is about to get Florida rolling, but LSU also plays the Gators every year. Dabo Swinney doesn't appear to be slowing down at Clemson, but jump to LSU and the chief rival becomes Alabama's Nick Saban. The decision would likely come down to whether Fisher wants a change of scenery.