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Candidates for every major opening

Gary Andersen and Tim DeRuyter are potential candidates for open Pac-12 head-coaching jobs. US Presswire

Nov. 25 was Black Sunday in the college coaching world, not that the firings at any of the schools -- even Colorado -- were altogether surprising. The fallout is that four of the 14 SEC schools need a coach, in addition to several other BCS-level programs. Here is a quick guide to the open head-coaching jobs in the AQ conferences, along with an alphabetical short list of potential candidates for each school. We'll update this as the carousel continues to spin and hiring decisions are made.

The list below includes Boston College, Cal, Colorado, Purdue, South Florida, Tennessee and Wisconsin (with some updated candidates as of Dec. 3), with analysis of the Auburn, Arkansas, Kentucky and NC State hires.


Arkansas Razorbacks

Hired: Bret Bielema (Dec. 4)

This was an off-the-radar hire, but a solid one. A colleague was saying just last week that he thought Bielema would do really well with increased resources -- like what Arkansas possesses. He was 68-24 at Wisconsin. With the Mike Gundy smoke screen Tuesday, the ultimate move came as a surprise to many. Good for AD Jeff Long, to be able to pull this one off.

One thought: If Bielema had issues with Urban Meyer's recruiting practices, he's in for an awakening in the SEC.


Auburn Tigers

Hired: Gus Malzahn (Dec. 4)

I'd heard conflicting things about Malzahn's candidacy from those close to the program. On the one hand, his track record as an offensive coach is impeccable. He is seen, even more in hindsight, as the co-catalyst (along with Cam Newton) for the national title. On the other, some people told me his welcome had worn thin by the end of his stay as Auburn's offensive coordinator.

He wasn't in play at Arkansas, a source told me, because of politics within the state complicating the difficulty of moving from Arkansas State to Arkansas.

Malzahn proved he could win as a head coach, but will that translate from Jonesboro, Ark., to the SEC?


Boston College Eagles

How good is the job?

Expectations are fairly modest, but Frank Spaziani always appeared to be in over his head. Tom O'Brien (seven winning seasons in 10 years) and Jeff Jagodzinski (two in two) found ways to recruit and win in Chestnut Hill, but it's been a decline ever since. BC, like Wake Forest and Duke in the ACC, has to deal with a heightened academic standard. It's a tough job because of that, but it's possible to break through to be a division contender.

What are they looking for?

Regularly going to bowls is enough to maintain satisfaction. The Eagles went to 12 in a row from 1999 to 2010. It isn't an impossible bar to hurdle, even while minding academia.

Candidates

Bob Diaco, Notre Dame defensive coordinator: The Irish's defense has been one of the best stories in college football, and Diaco's name has been linked to this job for several weeks. Notre Dame's suffocating defense has allowed just eight touchdowns in 33 red zone trips by opponents this season. BC would be a nice place for Diaco to begin his head-coaching career. His previous coaching stops as an assistant, Cincinnati and Virginia, are similar-tiered programs.

Darrell Hazell, Kent State Golden Flashes head coach: Hazell coached previously at Army and Rutgers, so he understands some of the Northeast dynamic. He turned around the Golden Flashes from a 5-7 first season to 11-1 -- and on the verge of an improbable BCS berth -- in his second year.

Tom O'Brien, former NC State and Boston College head coach: They wouldn't take him back, would they? Wait, why wouldn't they? He was 75-45 at BC and also had a winning record at NC State (40-35) despite his firing Sunday.

Greg Roman, San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator: This was the first job I heard in connection with Roman, though others -- more appealing and lucrative jobs -- have opened in the time since.

Don Treadwell, Miami (Ohio) head coach: Treadwell's pair of 4-8 seasons at Miami is nothing special, but there are two reasons to believe he'll at least get a look: (1) He was the co-offensive coordinator and receivers coach at BC in 1997 and '98 under O'Brien, and (2) new Boston College AD Brad Bates came from Miami (Ohio). I've written several times that Bates' connection to the MAC might lead to his giving some coaches from the league, Treadwell included, a glance.


California Golden Bears

How good is the job?

With so much new blood in the Pac-12, there's still room for a program like Cal. It has a redone stadium and enough resources to keep the school competitive. The Bay Area has a fair amount of high school and junior college products, and the L.A. area is well within range.

What are they looking for?

Berkeley just needs a jolt of life. The perception is that Jeff Tedford is a solid coach whose program got stagnant after an extended stay. Tedford, Cal's all-time winningest coach, was there 11 seasons.

Candidates

Gary Andersen, Utah State Aggies head coach: It took a little while for the Aggies to get going under Andersen, but they're 10-2 on top of a seven-win season and bowl appearance in 2011. Andersen was previously the defensive coordinator at Utah, but his offensive coordinator, Matt Wells, has a top-30 offense. The Aggies' only losses this season were at Wisconsin and BYU.

Tim DeRuyter, Fresno State Bulldogs head coach: When he was working as Texas A&M's defensive coordinator, his name was regularly brought up to me as an underrated mind in the game. That's being backed up this season, his first as a head coach and his first at Fresno. The Bulldogs have won nine games, something that hadn't happened since 2007 for longtime coach Pat Hill. Hill won 10 games only once in 15 seasons.

Mike McIntyre, San Jose State Spartans head coach: Stanford's David Shaw is engineering the Bay Area's most impressive coaching job, but McIntyre isn't far behind. San Jose has gone from 1-12 in his first season, in 2010, to 10-2 this season. In fact, McIntyre's Spartans pushed the Cardinal in the teams' opener.

Chris Petersen, Boise State Broncos head coach: It's a Hail Mary, but in the past Petersen always told those close to him that he'd at least consider Cal. With Boise shuffling to the Big East, whatever that will mean, maybe it really is the time for Petersen to consider his options. Oregon might still interest him, but if Chip Kelly does leave, the Ducks already have a logical internal candidate in offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich. It sure would be intriguing to see what Petersen could do at Cal.

Greg Roman, San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator: This might be the most ideal landing spot for Roman, who is working not too far away from the Berkeley campus. Learning from Jim Harbaugh worked well for Shaw. That might be enough for an AD to look Roman's way. The fact that the Niners' offense is suddenly explosive with Colin Kaepernick at QB is a cherry on his résumé.


Colorado Buffaloes

How good is the job?

Did you hear the comments Monday from Colorado AD Mike Bohn? While indicting himself -- or those higher up -- for canning a second-year coach, Bohn bemoaned a lack of funding and resources. In talking with a couple of former Buffs recently, this echoes their thoughts. Without some kind of change in a league with spiking administrative support, there isn't a good deal of hope.

What are they looking for?

A miracle worker who will work for peanuts, essentially.

Candidates

Gary Andersen, Utah State Aggies head coach: While he might be a lower-end candidate at Cal, he makes a whole lot of sense at Colorado.

Tim DeRuyter, Fresno State Bulldogs head coach: Fresno is a pretty tough place to come in and immediately win, as DeRuyter has. Boulder would be a similar challenge, albeit in a league that's growing and improving.

Todd Monken, Oklahoma State Cowboys offensive coordinator: Monken showed this season that his offense works with three different quarterbacks. It's still No. 5 in the country in yards, third in points. Think it would work at Colorado?

Willie Taggart, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers head coach: He's from Florida and played at WKU, but he got a taste of the Pac-10 at Stanford from 2007 to '09. He was the Cardinal's running backs coach. He cut his teeth at his alma mater, taking a relatively new FBS school and winning seven games each of the past two seasons. The Harbaugh protégé is probably ready for a BCS program.

Jeff Tedford, former Cal head coach: Perhaps Tedford just needs a fresh start. Coming from Cal, though, he surely would understand the limitations at Colorado. Still, if he wants to work, it would at least keep him in the same league.


Kentucky Wildcats

Hired: Mark Stoops (Nov. 27)

There's some excitement in the Bluegrass, with the hire of the Florida State defensive coordinator. Stoops made our initial candidates list, and even though we didn't necessarily view him as the front-runner on Monday, this was hardly surprising.

Stoops' background in recruiting-rich Ohio and Florida should come in handy in his gig with the Wildcats, and it will be interesting to see how he forms his offensive staff and what sort of system Kentucky will run. Generally, Stoops will undoubtedly draw from the successful and unsuccessful experiences his brothers have had as head coaches.


North Carolina State Wolfpack

Hired: Dave Doeren (Dec. 1)

The Huskies didn't return much on offense, but Doeren and his staff at Northern Illinois turned junior QB Jordan Lynch into a national name (and a fringe Heisman contender in 2013) and won the MAC in perhaps the league's best year on record.

It'll be interesting to see what Doeren, who is from Wisconsin and has no discernible ties to the region, does in the ACC. With decent resources and a relatively solid recruiting base, it's kind of an underrated job. Wolfpack fans expect nine or 10 wins and regularly competing for the division title. Can Doeren deliver?


Purdue Boilermakers

How good is the job?

It perhaps isn't good enough to ax a coach who has been to consecutive bowl games, though 6-6 in 2012 felt disappointing because of the team's experience and relatively weak division. Going 13-19 in four seasons wasn't enough for Danny Hope.

What are they looking for?

While Hope had the recent Boilers in bowls, the school aims for something a little higher up than the Pizza Bowl. Occasionally, it wants to regularly vie for a New Year's Day game, and, once every decade or so, reach the Rose. Joe Tiller set that bar and Hope, upon promotion from within, let it drop.

Candidates

Darrell Hazell, Kent State head coach: Hazell spent 2004 to '10 as an assistant at Ohio State. He knows the Big Ten and would be able to recruit the Buckeye State.

Butch Jones: Considering he was photographed getting off a Purdue plane Sunday, he's probably an intelligent update for this opening. I didn't include him in the first place because, frankly, I thought he was better than this job. In fact, we had him as in the mix for the Tennessee job. But it appears as though Jones wants out of Cincinnati rather badly. (Colorado is another reported possibility for Jones.) Remember that his predecessors left for Michigan State and Notre Dame.

Perhaps this very public water-testing is to see just how interested Cincinnati is in competing.

Kliff Kingsbury, Texas A&M Aggies offensive coordinator: This is an intriguing name, because of Aggies coach and Purdue alum Kevin Sumlin. Might he put in a call for his OC, who has been described to me as "brilliant" by peers? It's likely Kingsbury would hold out for a bigger job, but he might be itching to get started somewhere. Aggies special-teams coordinator Brian Polian, in the mix for Stanford when it went to Shaw, could also get a look on Sumlin's recommendation.

Pete Lembo, Ball State head coach: Lembo has won 93 games since 2001. Maybe it's time to give the guy a BCS job. Coming from Muncie, he would already understand the state's landscape.

Pat Narduzzi, Michigan State Spartans defensive coordinator: Narduzzi seemed like a big-time name for jobs before the season began, but Michigan State's struggles have muted his publicity. Still, he's an electric kind of guy and has proven results beyond whatever went wrong this season with the Spartans. With his own program, he might elicit results.


South Florida Bulls

How good is the job?
In a way, USF is the most intriguing on the list. It's situated in the middle of the best recruiting turf in the country. Still a relatively new program (it moved up to the FBS in 2001), its resources are growing and the commitment is strong. The phrase sleeping giant is sometimes associated with the program.

It's technically still part of a BCS league, but the Big East is crumbling. It's turning into a Conference-USA spinoff, really. That's unfortunate for the Bulls, who joined the Big East ... from C-USA. If USF plays its cards correctly, though, it might be positioned for another conference move.

What are they looking for?
A program that has seemingly been on the verge for the past five to seven years would like to take the next step. It thought Skip Holtz would be the one to help it do so, and I did too, but it simply didn't work. To win three games with as much talent and experience as the 2012 team had was really pretty stunning.

Candidates

Tommy Bowden, former Clemson head coach:
I first read this from Fox Sports' Jamie Newberg, who lives in the Tampa area, and it does make some sense given Bowden's very obvious tie to the state, through his father Bobby. I'd be curious to see what sort of staff Tommy would assemble. Bowden, who went 72-45 at Clemson but never won a division or league title, is 58. If he wants to get back in, this would be a good time and place.

Other retread names you might hear for this job are ex-Tennessee boss Phillip Fulmer and old Arkansas and Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt. Someone mentioned former Florida and Illinois coach Ron Zook's name, as well.

Sonny Dykes, Louisiana Tech head coach:
Regardless of where it went wrong, the Bulldogs sitting out the postseason feels as if it guarantees Dykes and his staff are headed elsewhere. Last week, NC State seemed like a legitimate option. If the others -- he's a possibility for Cal, too -- go in different directions, Dykes could do a lot worse than Tampa for the next step.

Willie Taggart, Western Kentucky head coach:
Someone told me a couple of weeks ago that this would be the primary name if Holtz were fired. I'm still inclined to believe that, even if WKU lost four of its final six games. (It still finished 7-5.) Taggart was one of the first limbs of the Jim Harbaugh coaching tree. If you can win in Bowling Green, Ky., you can win in the heart of Florida.


Tennessee Volunteers

How good is the job?

It was a great job about a decade ago, but regional competition and a couple of bad hires have brought it back down to a good job. It can be great again, relatively new AD Dave Hart (previously at Alabama and FSU) contends. The resources are there, and no program is more committed to getting back to where it was. These past few years have been embarrassing for the department as a whole.

What are they looking for?

Hart has said he wants a sitting head coach, maybe one with some experience in the SEC. The Vols aren't playing around. I'm told they might pay as much as $5 million a year for a coach. So, no, it will not be a coordinator. But who will it be? Who is worth that kind of dough?

Candidates

We've moved Jon Gruden and Butch Jones off of this list, and added Jimbo Fisher and Mike Gundy as of Dec. 3, based on the latest buzz out of Knoxville.

Larry Fedora, North Carolina head coach: He's had five winning seasons in five years as a head coach, at Southern Miss and then this past season at NCAA-strapped North Carolina. The academic cloud is still hanging around, so he might decide to opt for an upgrade if gets the chance. Fedora's résumé includes assistant stops at Florida and Oklahoma State. His quick-pace offense and background make him a likely candidate to eventually jump to the SEC. Is it time?

I was told Tuesday, by those with ties to Fedora, that he is not strongly considering Tennessee. The sources said Fedora is frustrated by how the NCAA news has steadily leaked to the media and public, making it difficult for the UNC program to move forward, but he is leaning toward staying put and working through the headaches.

(Updated Dec. 4)

Jimbo Fisher, Florida State head coach: The longer his name remains in the conversation, the more it seems legitimate and not just Fisher fishing for more money from FSU.

The Seminoles just won the ACC title, barely, but it's still worth wondering if Fisher is worth more than $4 million-plus per year based on his resume. That's a lot of money, even if he is 30-10 as a head coach. It still seems unlikely that he'd leave Tallahassee for Knoxville or Auburn.

Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State head coach: He wouldn't. Would he?

Gundy got his contract issues straightened out after last season, but I'm told by someone with knowledge of the program that there's still some residual strife with the administration about things such as scheduling.

Enough to leave his home and alma mater in Stillwater, though? The feeling of those in Oklahoma is that T. Boone Pickens wouldn't ever let it happen, with the direction and state of the rising program.

Still, it feels like more than a concerted bluff. As one person said to me Sunday when discussing the possibility of Gundy leaving Oklahoma State, it never seemed as if Rich Rodriguez would leave the comforts of his alma mater, either.

Dan Mullen, Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach: The Bulldogs fell off after a 7-0 start, but he's still gunning for his second nine-win season in Starkville in three years. That's quite a feat, given the limitations there. Willingly going from one SEC school to another would be tricky, but Mullen might see that there's a certain cap where he is, and a move to Knoxville or Fayetteville could lift the ceiling.

Greg Roman, San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator: I have a friend in the athletic department who was talking last week about the need for a strong talent developer because of the relatively weak recruiting base and the current situation of four coaches in six seasons. Why not a Harbaugh disciple, then? Roman has expressed interest in gaining a college program. This, along with Cal, might be the best available to him.

Wisconsin Badgers

Poor Pitt. You know that former Badgers OC Paul Chryst, who just completed his first season with the Panthers, is a logical place for AD Barry Alvarez to begin his search process.

Dave Wannstedt, Mike Haywood (briefly), Todd Graham, Paul Chryst and whoever the next would be have been in charge at Pitt since 2010. That's incredible -- and unfortunate for the players.

Unlike Graham fleeing after a season, the public outcry over Chryst going back to Madison -- where he's from and played quarterback -- likely wouldn't be as venomous. It's logical, if Chryst doesn't mind uprooting.