Just a quick Friday read where I put into tiers what I would feel about the most talked about candidates for the HC job at Nebraska.
Ecstatic about it:
Matt Rhule – I think things are trending this way from media members and former guys I talk to. The longer it drags on the less solid I feel about it, but still the guy I think we end up with. What he did at Temple and Baylor is extremely impressive to me. I’m hoping he could turn into our Saban… a good run at Michigan State and LSU, went to NFL and failed, came back and revitalized Bama’. Could he do that for us? Based on the metrics from this tweet seems like he’s a homerun.
Kalen Deboer – Even though he’s only been at Washington for one year, he’s been a winner pretty much everywhere he’s gone. On top of that, he has local ties coaching at Sioux Falls for some time. Could you poke holes in his coaching tenure? Sure. But I think anyone we get is going to have an asterisk next to them.
Urban Meyer – This may rub some people the wrong way, but i’m not sure we could do better than a coach that has won a national title at two separate places and did well at places like Utah and Bowling Green. I get that there’s some red flags, but he would instantly get us where we want to be. However, this isn’t happening.
Would need to be convinced, but would probably be happy:
Chris Klieman – This guy had a great run at North Dakota State and is now turning around Kansas State. My one hesitation would be his only FBS job is Kansas State, but if you’ve watched them, they are disciplined and well-coached. His ties to the area bump him into a “i’m happy” situation for me.
Dave Doeren – He won a ton of games in two seasons at Northern Illinois, and went to NC State and has been pretty much consistently Bo Pelini there which we would take back in a hurry at this point. My hesitation? What is his ceiling? At this point i’ll take some consistency like Iowa or Wisconsin have and what we had with Pelini over what i’ve seen the last 7 years. So that wouldn’t stop me from hiring him.
Lance Leipold – I like what i’ve seen from him, and what he’s done at Kansas is pretty impressive. His age might frustrate me the most which probably shouldn’t, but I think a young and energetic guy (save Urban) is what we are needing. But someone smarter than me could probably make me end up feeling ok about it.
Dave Aranda – I don’t think this one is happening, but despite how his season is turning I think he could be a good get. I won’t go too much into it since I don’t believe it to be happening, but I think he would be a good get.
Luke Fickell – I don’t see this one happening either, but he’s someone I could be extremely happy with running our program.
On the fence, but would probably end up unhappy:
Jeff Monken – I can hear people mad I put him in the unhappy category. But the reality is he is at a service academy which is nothing like Power 5 college football, people just see they run the ball like we did in the 90s and get excited in my opinion. I think someone could talk me into being happy, he just reminds me a bit of Mickey Joseph in the sense that if it’s him that means a ton of other guys told us no.
Matt Campbell – I’ve flipped on this guy a bit, I was pretty excited to start this season if he would be our guy as I was intrigued with how he ran his program and he coaches within our geography. I do think Trev had this guy in his top 3 in 2021 and even to start 2022, but some better candidates emerged.
Bill O’Brien – I’m against the grain on this one with people. I am super impressed with what he did at Penn State during the scandal and reduced scholarships, but he had a #1 draft pick QB. And they were worse year 2, and he only had 2 years CFB head coaching experience. He would need to develop players here which he didn’t have to do at Penn State (only 2 years) and in the NFL and now at Bama.
Jeff Traylor – This name has emerged a bit the last week or so, but I just don’t see it. No P5 HC experience when we have people interested that do and mostly in the south is where he’s coached. I just don’t see the fit.
Hugh Freeze – Tough one because he’s had some success, but if we are getting rid of a HC that has/ahd some demons that caused issues in his tenure here, not sure we need to go this route. I know what you are saying, “but Urban has demons”, and i’d agree. I’ll just say i’ll overlook demons for conference and national titles.
I would be so mad if we hired them:
PJ Fleck – Luckily this one has died down a bit, but even though he is a really good coach i’d hate everything about it. From reading kids books to the team the Friday before the game to just his overall persona, i’d leap off a building.
Deion Sanders – This is coming from a kid who chose 21 to be like him, but the guy has been a head coach for how long? I would need to see how he could do without his son at quarterback.
Mickey Joseph – If we hire him after basically doing nothing for improvement this year it basically would mean to me that we got told no by everyone. Now, I think there are unreal qualities for MJ that we need to keep him on staff as WR coach at minimum like recruiting and the kids playing for him, but again he can do all of those things as an assistant. Nebraska doesn’t need to be a place for first time head coaches.
Join us early next week where I go into what the biggest challenge moving forward for the new head coach will be and I have to eat crow for us hiring no one I even talked about.
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13 thoughts on “SSO’s Top Candidates”
Rhule seems to check the most boxes IMO (outside of the highly unlikely Urban pick). Proven record as a builder, and I really, really liked his analytical approach to recruiting when he was going against Penn State. He seems to know what he likes, and what it takes to win. I believe I read he also preaches being really physical (which we have to have IMO because we are not going to out recruit Michigan, OSU or Penn State). I cant get too excited about anyone else on the list (except Urbs) but then again, all someone has to do is come in and win enough games to go to a decent bowl and most people would be ecstatic. I suppose we will see right after the Iowa game??? I hope it doesnt drag past that weekend after the Iowa game..if it does, I think we are in serious trouble
Dave Doeren would be a huge no for me. He’s won games, but I live in Raleigh and the fans can’t stand him. Always seems to lose at least 2-3 games a year he shouldn’t. Last week with the BC game once again confirmed the criticism. I also like the idea of a Tom Herman, Luke Fickle or maybe even a Whittingham. Fickle leads my interest just because he is a tough mother f’er and I feel like he would bring that mentality back to us.
Interesting about the Doeren stuff, especially since we said that about Pelini here and we would take him back in a heartbeat now. With that said, not sure we have to worry about him anyway.
Fickell and Wittingham would be homeruns, I tried to just find guys that I thought were actually viable.
Nothing on Patterson? Do you buy any of the thoughts on someone more of the ceo type with Mickey doing the ground work?
I don’t see Patterson with the job, but I could be wrong there. I still think it’s Rhule. I think Mickey can do that groundwork from his assistant position and a guy like Rhule being his CEO.
Pelini’s results I’m sure many would take again, I for one couldn’t actually take Pelini back even if guaranteed his success. I’m maybe swayed more by a coach’s personality\character than most. I honestly had a hard time rooting for us at the end of Pelini’s tenure, I got so sick of his tantrums.
What you wrote for Fleck would basically be my reason for no to Meyer. I have zero doubt he’d be great, just can’t root for him.
DeBoer I think would be great, never really considered him bc just didn’t seem likely to me that he’d jump after only 1 year in Washington.
I’ve gone back and forth on O’Brien. I haven’t looked at all his offensive coordinating at Banca. Bit i think he may be a better HC than OC. I think he could be good, but I think he’d need really good coordinators for it to work. I doubt it’s him, but would be interesting to see what he’d do with another college program.
Klieman wasn’t initially excited, but after watching him this year, would probably actually be a good fit here
Klieman really intrigues me with what he’s done down there. He’s been consistent too.
Good summary. Pretty much how I feel. I’m thinking Rhule or DeBorer. Looks like you really are on the fence with Liepold. 😄
Thanks for your thoughts on this, SSO. With a likely 0-2 end to the season, we can’t get the announcement fast enough.
I don’t know how I feel about Leipold, someone could convince me either way I think. I for some reason think we may steal one of these last two games.
You put Leipold in 2 of the categories so I’ll guess you’re struggling with him. Is his age really the primary concern? I think he’s at an age where we can reasonably expect 10 quality years left in him. A “young and energetic guy” is likely to miss the experience boxes you want. I think with Leipold I’m good because the guy has won everywhere he’s been and he has really strong regional ties. He’s a winner and he understands us. But where I get concerned is Leipold has a strong offense and we should be good with him bringing that staff/system here. Keeping Mickey limits him there while at the same time we really want him to overhaul his defensive staff. I’m not sure how comfortable with that many new assistants he would be. And that’s one of my biggest worries. We don’t want guys porting staffs over but we also don’t want them hiring 7-8 assistants they never worked with.
I’m with ya, I just see some guys on the list that have the experience and success boxes we want that are 10-15 years younger. But to your point, he should be here 10 years no problem theoretically.
I guess I just see each candidate having flaws so its a matter of preference. Campbell’s younger but I like Leipold’s background/history more. Deboir may be younger but 3 years HC at 2 teams makes him a big unknown for me. Aranda inherited what Rhule built. So on.
I was really worried previously about this being a huge rebuild and I was prepared for sucking in 2023, then pushing for 6-7 wins in 2024. I think the improvement Mickey has gotten eases my mind a bit. As I look at some of these candidates I really do think we have a shot at pushing 6-7 wins next year and 8 in 2024. No way we have a worse situation here than Leipold took on at KU. So I see some room for optimism here with a lot of potential hires and really hope Mickey can be a part of whatever is next.
Rhule- Temple was steady before he took over then he won 1 game then turned it around then left. Baylor was winning 10 games then he took over won 1, turned it around then left. He never sustained a program. And his staff worries me. Same people with him since Temple.
Deboer- I don’t know much about him but Peterson had that train going before he came in.
Meyer- Would leave in 5 years and hopefully would find us the next Ryan Day
Klieman – He could work if he can recruit at a high level cause he can develop.
Doeren – Don’t know much about him
Leipold – Can work but prob too old and can he recruit top players
Aranda – Defense would improve but can he get offensive players he gets in Texas? Is Baylor hard to win at now days?
Fickell – I am impressed what he is doing. Seems like a good character guy but P5 is different from Cinn. Might have similar results as Frost
Monken – Would be a complete rebuild
Campbell – I think he would just be avg. We would have good years then bad, then good.
O’Brien – He is the reason Alabama is struggling. Not a good play caller.
Freeze – He has won ever where he went. The trouble he got into in the past is a none issue now. Can he handle the mid-west tho
Sanders – Can bring in the top talent but can you coach against the top coaches.
Joseph – I think he would do better then you give him credit for. Can he put a great staff together? Can he handle the side work a CEO head coach needs to do? I think if he wins the next two games Trev will have to consider him. If he looses against Wis, new coach announced before Iowa.