The regular season ended for most of college football on Saturday, meaning the offseason coaching carousel has started spinning in full force. There are job openings that may take weeks to be filled, and yet others that may still open.
One school that didn’t want to wait around was the University of North Carolina, fresh off a 2-9 record; Sunday, the Tarheels fired Larry Fedora, and Monday, they made sure they could snap up their candidate before anyone else:
Now, some might question this move. Brown will be 68 when the 2019 season starts. His last five years at Texas, he took top-15 recruiting classes to a 30-21 record. He’s been out of coaching for five years. This could go badly.
At the same time, you can cobble together an argument for what they’re doing here: they’re going back to the last thing that truly worked. The Tarheels haven’t put together back-to-back 10-win seasons since 1996-97, and do you know who was head coach then? That’s right: Mack Brown.
Maybe there’s some logic in taking a risk, and seizing on someone with a historic link to your program. Let’s review a few other programs with head coaching openings for whom this might work.
After firing Bobby Petrino, the overwhelming buzz around Louisville is their hope to hire away Louisville native / former Cardinals QB / current Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm. There’s no guarantees here: Brohm may well decide that he’s just dug one program out of a deep hole and doesn’t want to repeat that so soon. He may decide that he’s got a strengthening program in a weak division. He may prefer the Big Ten to the ACC. He may just love the natural beauty of Lafayette, Indiana.
If Jeff Brohm doesn’t want to come, who could Vince Tyra turn to?
Well, what if there were a candidate out there who’d rebuilt (or simply built) multiple programs to successful runs? A coach who’s won a national championship? A coach who’d led the Cardinals before, and even took them to the program’s first major bowl victory?
That’s right: the Cards should hire Howard Schnellenberger.
The Terrapins are in an interesting position. After former head coach DJ Durkin was suspended and ultimately fired over the circumstances leading to a player’s death, former Pitt and LSU OC Matt Canada stepped in and took the team to a 5-7 record as interim coach. Maryland may well decide to keep Canada on full-time, considering the difficult hand he was dealt going into the season.
On the other hand, they might decide to go for a full break. Sweep the program clean.
They might look to the NFL - Arizona State surprised a lot of us this year by going 7-5 under Herm Edwards, a coach with no ties to the program and a long career in the pros.
If Maryland does go this route, I’m going to suggest they pursue a middle route: a former NFL coach, but one who knows the area, understands Maryland.
That’s right: former Baltimore Colts head coach (1973-74) Howard Schnellenberger.
With a 10-4 season and Pac-12 South division title in 2016 looking more and more like an aberration, the Buffaloes decided to cut ties with Mike MacIntyre this offseason. While it’s hard to argue against firing a coach who had losing records in four of his five seasons at the helm, it’s also important to admit: this program hasn’t had a lot of success in recent years. They haven’t played in a major bowl game since 2001. They haven’t won a major bowl game since 1995.
Who coached the Buffaloes in 1995? Well, that’s Rick Neuheisel. Neuheisel led the Buffs to a 10-2 record that season and a #5 finish in the AP poll. They racked up three victories over top-10 teams: Texas A&M, Kansas State and Oklahoma.
If you’re CU, don’t you want to hark back to the times when the Buffaloes were beating teams like Oklahoma? Don’t you want to have someone who was on the sidelines for that?
That’s right: Colorado should hire former Oklahoma head coach Howard Schnellenberger.
TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS
There may be some illusions among the leadership in Lubbock as to their place in the overall college football ecosystem. To wit:
Texas Tech AD Kirby Hocutt: "We will be elite in football again. I guarantee you we will be elite in football again. This program has been there before and we'll get there again."— Max Olson (@max_olson) November 25, 2018
This is... not exactly true. The Red Raiders have never finished in the top 10 of the AP poll. They’ve never won a major bowl game. They haven’t won an outright conference title since 1955, in the “Border Conference”.
Now, they’re often decent, and they’re often entertaining. They’ve run up some terrific offenses under Mike Leach, Tommy Tuberville, and Kliff Kingsbury. But, Leach is still gainfully employed at Wazzu (and likely not too fond of the program that pushed him out), Tuberville’s certainly persona non grata in Lubbock, and they just canned Kingsbury.
If you want to build for the future while continuing what has been working, what do you do?
Well, you need a coach who knows offense, like Leach. You need a coach who knows how to win at a place without much of a pedigree.
And let’s not throw away the baby with the bathwater: you need a coach who’s very handsome, like Kingsbury.
Might I suggest FAU program architect and classic leading man Howard Schnellenberger?
BOWLING GREEN FALCONS
They should bring back Urban Meyer.