October 31, 2013

The List, Part II

Okay, obviously, you need to read Part I before you read the sequel.  So go do that, m'kay?

You're back?  Okay, great.  Below are some more names I'd like to submit for your consideration as potential replacements for Mike London as Virginia's head coach.

A few of the guys you suggested didn't make the cut.  Why?  I either didn't find them appetizing (example: Bob Diaco) or I didn't find them realistic (example: Mark Richt).

Anyway, here's the list.  It's pretty long, so find a comfortable seat and settle in.

Louisiana-Lafayette HC Mark Hudspeth
Huddy registered a blip on my radar when I went to work compiling the first List, but he didn't quite make the cut.  Well, that was a mistake.  He won pretty big in seven years at South Alabama, and is now taking Lafayette to heights never before experienced by that program.  In fact, that dramatic two-year transformation of the Ragin' Cajuns program is what should endear UVA fans to Hudspeth.  He has the exact big picture blueprint we need to elevate this program from the abyss, quickly and completely.  The problem is, he's a Deep South guy, already on many SEC athletic directors' speed dial.  Could Virginia swoop in and pry him away from that region before an SEC school snaps him up?

I dream of a day when our players have a reason to
dump Gatorade on their head coach.

Bowling Green HC Dave Clawson
Clawson spent three years as the head coach of the Richmond Spiders, laying the winning foundation for the team that Mike London took to the FCS national championship in 2008.  Clawson left U of R to become the offensive coordinator at Tennessee, and then to become the head coach at Bowling Green.  He's elevated the Eagles into a perennial bowl team in the MAC, and he runs a very flexible, versatile, opportunistic offensive system. Clawson describes his coaching style as one that utilizes the available talent to maximize success.  His philosophy focuses on getting individual playmakers more touches rather than sticking to a rigidly-defined system.  His offenses have displayed components of the Pro-Style, Spread, and Power Running attacks.  Also, here's a great piece from SI.com's Pete Thamel: Bowling Green's Dave Clawson and the Art of Program Building

London won with his recruits at Richmond.
Is it time for Clawson to return the favor?

Washington DC Justin Wilcox
I think this Q-n-A from the SB*Nation Cal site does this potential candidate justice better than I can.

I like that he's a cerebral guy, I like that he has the Boise State blueprint, but I dislike his roots in the Pacific Northwest.

Tulane HC Curtis Johnson
Good recruiter, good developer of talent.  He kicked ass as wide receivers coach for the New Orleans Saints, developing Marques Colston from a raw 7th round tight end into an all-pro wide receiver.  He also worked miracles with Lance Moore, and cultivated Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem into dangerous downfield threats.  In his first season at Tulane, the downtrodden Green Wave went 2-10.  But here in his second season, they are 6-2 and quickly making a name for themselves.  Johnson's star is on the rise, he actively WANTS to coach in college, and he brings intimate knowledge of Sean Payton's offensive system.  He's really, really green, but I think he's an interesting potential option.

ECU HC Ruffin McNeil
ECU is his alma mater, so I'm not sure he'd leave there to come to UVA (how sad is that?).  But if he would, he'd bring his acumen on the defensive side of the ball, and a willingness to go Air Raid after working under Mike Leach for a decade.  I think this one is probably a non-starter, but it's worthy of the list as I think it's at least an option that merits consideration.

Former Nevada HC Chris Ault
He's old (66) and retired to some cushy consultant job with the Kansas City Chiefs.  But as the architect of the Pistol Offense, he would bring some innovation to the mix here at UVA.  Plus, he's respected enough in the coaching community to be able to attract some good assistants... maybe even a young firebrand OC to be his heir apparent at Virginia.  Maybe we only get a few years out of him, but he could set this train back on its rails, while installing the Pistol and building a new and sorely-needed offensive identity for the Hoos.

SMU HC June Jones
Another oldie (60) but goodie, June Jones has been working and winning and biding his time, waiting patiently for a BCS conference opportunity... that has sadly never come.  Well, better late than never.  Picture the Run and Shoot in Charlottesville, and try to suppress a smile.  I dare you.  And before you say "Run and Shoot is a gimmick offense, it'd never work here," please remember THIS SEASON Hawaii put together, and please remember the Houston Oilers' success in the early 90s.  In 14 seasons as a college head coach, June Jones has posted losing seasons in just two of those seasons -- his first season at SMU and his second season at Hawaii.  The man runs a system that is highly entertaining, he has won everywhere he's coached, and has been waiting for an opportunity to coach a BCS conference program for the better part of two decades.  I think he'd run through walls to succeed here.

Texas HC Mack Brown
Will he get fired at Texas?  Maybe, maybe not.  But if he does, he's be the exact kind of proven program architect and battle-hardened CEO-type that Virginia needs to rebuild its flagging program.  This hire would feel a bit slimy, and I'm not sure UVA would be willing to make this move (or pay Brown's salary), but it's at least somewhat within the ballpark of realism, and it's interesting as hell to consider.

Towson HC Rob Ambrose
He might be the top [realistic] candidate at UConn, so I think we'd be stooping to conquer if we made this hire -- our job opportunity is better than his credentials should merit.  However, Ambrose played a big role in bringing the Huskies up from 1-AA to 1-A and into the Big East and eventually to a BCS bowl game.  Once he took the Towson job, it took him two years to completely turn around a moribund program.  A lot of people view him as the top coach at the FCS level right now.

Liberty HC Turner Gill
I'll admit, he's on here more for name recognition than for a rich history of recent success.  He sucked at Kansas, and is so far just so-so at Liberty.  But he won at Buffalo from 2006 to 2009, and it's impossible to win at Buffalo.  There's coaching ability in there somewhere.  But we can't really hire a dude that got shitcanned at Kansas, can we?

Soon-to-be-Fired Tampa Bay Buccaneers HC Greg Schiano
I don't buy him as a realistic candidate for UVA -- he's just too much of a dick.  And hiring overt assholes just isn't UVA's style after Al Groh and Dave Leitao crapped out and Jon Oliver has run our football program into the dirt.  But hey, he won at Rutgers, which to me seems next to impossible, and once upon a time he was a really hot name in the college coaching community.  Enough Virginia fans are bringing up his name that I think he's worth noting on this list.

USC Interim HC Ed Orgeron
Coach O has a reputation for scumbaggery, and he flamed out quickly in his only shot as a head coach -- 2005 thru 2007 at Ole Miss (he went a dismal 10-25, which is even worse than what Mike London is doing at Virginia right now).  Still... I have just a simple hunch, nothing but a gut feeling... that Orgeron is ready to succeed as a head coach.  It's not a fit at UVA, but I do think he's an intriguing potential option if we wanted to go a bit outside the box.

Middle Tennessee HC Rick Stockstill
You won't find a more "meh" option.  He's a fine coach, nothing special.  Seven seasons at MTSU, he posted a winning record in four of those... and that's a tough place at which to win.  He recently turned down offers from ECU and Memphis, so you know what level of coaching candidate he is.  UVA can - and should - do a bit better than this.  But if he's our next coach, I feel confident we'd at least be able to approach sustainable success on the 6- or 7-win plateau.  In other words, Stockstill is a relatively safe option.  High floor, low ceiling.

Navy HC Ken Niumatalolo
Triple option, anyone?  Pierce hates that offensive system and dismisses it as a "gimmick," but it is an offensive system.  In other words, it's better than whatever nihilistic mickeymouse bullshit pro-style crap we've been trying to run since Bill Musgrave left.  Meanwhile, Virginia did pretty well with the last coach she hired from the Naval Academy!  But in all honesty, I think Niumatalolo would be out of his depth in this job, and I don't see life as the second triple option team in the ACC being particularly viable or fun.  Moving along...

Wyoming HC Dave Christensen
He's not winning big at Wyoming, and got in trouble for verbally assaulting Troy Calhoun last year, but I won't dismiss the 19 years he spent working under Gary Pinkel.  Pinkel (and Christensen) run an awesome version of the no-huddle spread offense, exactly the kind of thing I want at UVA.  But yeah... no way we'd hire this dude.

I'm plucking the next three names from the following piece:
Which NFL assistant would make best college coach?
Seattle Seahawks DC Dan Quinn
"He's a player's coach. He's a grinder, he's tough and he relates well to his guys. He knows how to utilize the strengths of his players, and he has the presence of a head coach."
Chicago Bears DC Mel Tucker
"He has a lot of experience in both pro and college football. He's been around some very good coaching staffs at both levels. He's young enough to have the energy you need to rebuild a college program, and he has enough experience to know what to do. Everyone I know that has worked with him has nothing but great things to say about him."
San Francisco 49ers OC Greg Roman
"He has the Stanford model, and he knows how to work quarterbacks. He is a very bright offensive mind, and he's done a great job developing (Colin) Kaepernick. He's a leader, he can recruit and he's an underrated play-caller."

And finally, here are a few other FCS guys that I think could be decent out-of-left-field options.  They've earned a shot at a lower-level FBS school, which... painfully... Virginia might now be considered.

North Dakota State HC Craig Bohl
He's kicking ass at NDSU, and has won the last two FCS championships.  Through sheer winning, he'll kick down the door to the FBS soon enough.

Sam Houston State HC Willie Fritz
He went 97-47 in 13 years at Central Missouri, and is now 31-9 at Sam Houston State.  He's another big-time winner who has to be knocking on the door of the FBS.

Eastern Washington HC Beau Baldwin
He's ugly as sin, and as a Pacific Northwest guy through and through, he's only ever coached in Washington.  Still, he's a pretty impressive dude with the reputation as a program-builder.

That's 21 names.  Add those to the 16 I originally put forward, and we have a robust 37-coach list of candidates.



  1. Mack Brown? Yikes.

  2. How about hiring K.C. Keeler as OC?

  3. Seeing this list has made it pretty clear that we really really really want Mike London to succeed. We got past their prime, scummy, or who? as our potential options. Yikes indeed.

    I gotta think that we have a fighter's chance at one of the real up and comers cuz recruiting is recruiting, whether it's recruiting coaches or players. You sell on tradition, opportunity, or potential and no matter how sorry we are right now we'll never be Duke of old because of that last point.

    Sorry Kendall but we are better than this list #2.

    1. I agree with you completely. I think Hudspeth or Clawson would be good hires, but the rest are very underwhelming. Still, we're trying to find an upgrade over a coach who is about to lead us to our worst single-season record since 1980.

    2. Totally agree, Anon.

      Best case scenario, in my mind, is for Mike to succeed here.

  4. As I have put in other post the list part 1 nobody is even mentioning Kirby Smart. He is young, energetic, knows how to recruit and certainly should know how to win. This is a special place and if we would pay the salary he commands and show him we are dedicated to winning I think we would have a good chance

  5. If they pull trigger. Make offer to chip kelly. Dont think he s happy in phil bet if they offered job he would listen...be bold. Go for home run! What would it hurt to offer it to him.

  6. One guy the college football world has forgotten about and would be a slam dunk hire is JimTressel. Also would open up recruitment in Ohio and Florida.

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