Tuck: College Football Top Coaching Candidates

With almost a quarter of FBS jobs coming open at the end of the 2012 season, we hear a lot of chatter about coaches moving from one job to another.  I am surprised these guys don’t hear their names come up for the major jobs.  Bret Bielema left Wisconsin, and would have been a top name on this list.  I just wonder why with major openings at Arkansas, Auburn, Tennessee, and Wisconsin that these very successful coaches names don’t pop up.


David Shaw, Stanford– Was an assistant coach in the NFL for 9 seasons before returning to where he played his college football. Initially serving as an offensive coordinator before assuming the top spot.  In two seasons as the head coach he is 23-4, with a Fiesta Bowl and Rose Bowl appearance, and a Pac-12 Title.

Art Briles, Baylor- Played at Houston and finished his degree at Texas Tech.  After incredible success as a high school coach in Texas he went onto coaching Houston to 4 bowl games, and after a predictable slow start at non-traditional football school (and that is putting it mildly) Baylor, he has strung together seasons of 7-6, 10-3, and 7-5.

Paul Rhoads, Iowa State- Was the defensive coordinator at Pitt and Auburn before taking the helm for the Cyclones 4 seasons ago.  Taking over a 2-10 Gene Chizik-led outfit, he has gone bowling 3 of his 4 years.

Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern- The late Randy Walker named the former great Wildcat linebacker his successor in 2006.  At the time, Fitzgerald was the youngest coach (31) in the NCAA.  After a 4-8 start, he has guided the Wildcats to bowl games every season since, an impressive feat for a historical doormat.

Rocky Long, San Diego State- Long was a star quarterback at New Mexico and played professionally in the CFL and WFL.  He served as an assistant coach for nearly 20 years before returning as head coach for his alma mater.  He got New Mexico to 5 bowls in 7 years, but was fired after going 4-8 his final year.  Just to be noted, the Lobos went 3-33 the next three seasons.  Long went to San Diego State replacing Brady Hoke and went 8-5 last season and won a co-MWC championship this year at 9-3.


I can’t say for sure that any of these guys weren’t contacted.  Perhaps, like Chris Peterson at Boise State or  Gary Patterson at TCU, maybe they are just happy with their lot in life.  Fitzgerald and Shaw are coaching at places they played, but so did Briles and Long, and each left so just because you return home, doesn’t mean you stay there forever.

I just point this out to give credit to the coaching success each has had, and hope that they haven’t been overlooked.