Saturday, October 23, 2010

North Texas Head Coach

Todd Dodge was fired as the Head Coach at North Texas. While it is still early and more candidates may enter the picture after the season, the coaching tree has come up with four potential replacements:

Tyrone Nix, currently the defensive coordinator under Houston Nutt at Ole Miss, is a young coach moving up the ranks, and this may be a good fit for his first head coaching job. Nix has been a defensive coordinator at Southern Miss, South Carolina, and now Ole Miss. He is a graduate of Southern Miss, much like North Texas athletic director Rick Villareal. Villareal was a graduate assistant at USM during Nix's freshman season, and was also the assistant athletic director for the Golden Eagles from 1998-2000, when Nix was a position coach with the team.

Steve Kragthorpe was most recently the head coach at Louisville, where he was fired after three seasons, failing to finish with a winning record. Kragthorpe did have success in four years as head coach at Tulsa, winning a Conference USA title in his third year. He spent two years (1994-95) as the offensive coordinator at North Texas. He has head coaching experience, which is one of the main things the program is looking for. Kragthorpe had signed on to coach wide receivers at Texas A&M for the 2010 season, but resigned in July due to family medical issues. While he seems like he would be a good fit for the Mean Green, it is unknown whether or not those issues have been resolved.

Phil Bennett, defensive coordinator at Pitt, has proven himself as a quality defensive coordinator. He also spent six seasons as head coach at SMU, where he worked to rebuild the Mustangs with some degree of success. Bennett spent four years at LSU, where he coached with North Texas AD Rick Villareal. With head coaching experience and a solid defensive background, Phil Bennett may be worth a hard look for this position.

Jim Leavitt doesn't have any connection to North Texas or the administration, but there is one reason why he makes this list: Mike Canales. Canales is the interim head coach for the remainder of the 2010 season. He came to North Texas as the offensive coordinator after eight years (two separate stints) coaching under Jim Leavitt at South Florida. If Canales is able to bring the Mean Green together and play competitively over the remainder of the season, Canales may gain the respect to the point where he could lobby for the school to bring in Leavitt.

Minnesota Head Coach

With the firing of Tim Brewster, Minnesota will begin to search for their new head coach. While it is still early and it is likely that more coaches will become potential candidates as the season progresses, the coaching tree has come up with four potential replacements:

Kevin Sumlin is in his third year as head coach at Houston, where he led the Cougars to back to back bowl appearances. His high-octane offense made him a popular name for head coaching vacancies after the 2009 season. Sumlin was at Minnesota from 1993-97, coaching quarterbacks and wide receivers for the Gophers.

Marc Trestman is currently the head coach of the CFL's Montreal Alouettes. Over three decades, Trestman spent time as a coordinator and quarterback coach in college and the NFL. He was a quarterback at Minnesota from 1975-77 under former Golden Gopher head coach Cal Stoll. If Minnesota is looking for an experienced coach with ties to the state, Trestman looks like a reasonable choice.

Minnesota may be reluctant to hire an NFL position coach, having tried and failed when they hired Tim Brewster in 2007. The difference is that Brewster was a position coach who had never been a coordinator at any level let alone had any head coaching experience other than a two year stint as a head coach at a high school. Zorn has been both a coordinator (Utah State, '92-94) and a head coach with the Washington Redskins from 2008-09. He has spent over 30 years either playing quarterback or coaching quarterbacks, including two years as the QB coach at Minnesota ('95-96).

Dan McCarney spent the first 30 years of his coaching career in the Midwest, but has spent the last four years in the sunshine state, coaching the defensive lines at South Florida (2007) and Florida. McCarney spent 12 years as the head coach at Iowa State after stops at Wisconsin and Iowa. During his five year stint as the defensive coordinator at Wisconsin in the early '90s, current Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi was the assistant athletic director with the Badgers.