First posted by Nick at Inside The Shoe
“It is my honor to introduce to you, the next head football coach at The Ohio State University…….”
Just think, in less than two weeks, we could be hearing this sentence from Gene Smith. Scandals aside, the next coach will inherit one of the most-coveted jobs in college football and a substantial nucleus of young talent to build a successful team around.
Before I get into talking about the top ten potential coaching candidates that could be on Geno’s List, let’s take a moment to discuss the lay of the land and what we’re looking for in a candidate. Based on what we've seen so far this season from the interim regime, it’s clear we need someone head coaching experience to fill the shoes of our iconic former coach.
In addition, the next coach will have an enormous challenge mimicking the Jim Tressel-built recruiting wall in the state of Ohio. Even before The Vest’s departure, the wall was already showing some cracks with blue-chip recruits Trey DePriest, Jordan Hicks and Aundrey Walker fleeing the Buckeye state for Alabama, Texas and Southern California, respectively. Someone with Ohio ties has to be near or at the top of the list of candidates. Not to mention, they obviously have to be able to recruit in the Sun Belt states. And finally, the final criterion to evaluate the candidates is their past offensive coaching experience.
With the evolution of the college game and our annual lethargic production, we need someone with an offensive coaching background. Gone are the days of three yards and cloud of dust. If we want to be able to beat teams from other BCS conferences and our own, we have got to regularly score above 30 on a consistent basis. While I’m by no means dismissing the importance of defense, we've have got to score more points.
Therefore, I’m going to evaluate candidates based on three criteria:
1. Head Coaching experience
2. Ohio ties
3. Offensive coaching background.
Let's get on to the list after the jump.
10. Jon Gruden - Because of his recently signed five-year contract extension with ESPN, I almost didn't include him on the list. However, it wouldn't be a real a top 10 list without shamelessly including some big names that have zero chance. Gruden will never leave the NFL. Obviously, the former Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach and current Monday Night Football co-host meets all three of our criteria.
He’s won a Super Bowl, hails from Sandusky, Ohio, graduated from the University of Dayton and has an offensive coaching background. But, can you imagine the temperamental Chuckie trying to get through to 18 and 19 year old college players? It’s not going to happen folks! And, we would be reminisced not to mention the fact that he did he get fired from his last job because he wasn’t a good enough coach.
9. Gary Patterson - Ok, so the AP 2009 Coach of the Year doesn’t have big time program experience, Ohio ties or an offensive coaching background, but he did beat Bret Bielema in the 2011 Rose Bowl. Let me repeat. He beat Bret Bielema in the 2011 Rose Bowl. During his tenure as head coach, Patterson has helped to transform TCU into a major college football program.
He’s shown an ability to coach up inferior talent to win big games. With TCU set to join the Big 12 next season, it’s very unlikely the Kansas native would leave for Ohio State or any other coaching position; especially, given the fact that the Horn Frogs now get to play Texas and Oklahoma on an annual basis.
8. Tim Beckman - Next on my list is Toledo’s current field general, Tim Beckman. The Findlay alum and former Ohio State cornerbacks coach (2005-2006) is widely thought of as an up-and-comer in the coaching ranks. He’s already beaten a few B1G teams, including Michigan and Purdue. And, let’s not forget who had his team better-prepared than Luke Fickell earlier this season in the Horse Shoe.
Beckman served as a graduate assistant at Auburn and as the defensive coordinator at Bowling Green (1998-2004) and Oklahoma State (2007-2008). While Beckman certainly has Ohio and Ohio State ties, it’s very unlikely the university would tap such a raw talent to lead the program. Only the NCAA dropping the hammer on the program could potentially result in Beckman getting the job.
7. Luke Fickell - First and foremost, let me just say that I admire and respect Luke Fickell for how he’s handled a no-win situation. In fact, I would really like to see him named as the permanent head coach at Ohio State—only in about 10 years. While Fickell may have been a point-after-attempt away from getting the job, he’s looked lost on the sidelines many times this season and has shown an inability to get his team motivated to play inferior competition (Toledo, Indiana and Purdue).
Plus, don’t even get me started on why the coaching staff ever thought it was a good idea to let Joe Bauserman see the field. It’s abundantly clear Fickell isn’t ready for prime time. Hopefully, he can finish strong and secure a head coaching position somewhere else. Let him gain some head coaching experience and develop recruiting ties, and we’ll see him back at his alma mater someday. Ohio State is not the place to receive on-the-job training. That’s why the football gods invented the Big East.
6. Bo Pelini - It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Mark “Bo” Pelini would appear on this list. The Youngstown native, former Ohio State team captain and current Nebraska coach has many attributes that make him a strong contender for the getting the head job at this alma mater. Pelini is without question one of the brightest defensive minds in coaching. Anyone remember the 2008 BCS title game in New Orleans? His teams have produced top-five NFL draft pick defensive tackles Glen Dorsey and Ndamukong Suh, and just think what he could do for the careers of John Simon and Big Hank.
While Pelini is certainly an intriguing candidate for the job, it’s very unlikely he would get offered the job unless some of the other candidates turned Ohio State down. His teams aren’t well known for being offensive juggernauts and head coaching moves within a conference are rare. Not to mention, his sideline antics and abrasive personality could be too much for an administration and fan base used to the mild-mannered Vest.
5. Sorry, but you’ll have to wait until next week for part two and the top five potential coaching candidates on Geno’s List. In the meantime, let us know what you think about candidates 10 through six and who you’re hoping to see in the top five.