- Todd McShay, Scouts Inc.
There will always be retreads like Butch Davis and Rick Neuheisel seeking college football head-coaching openings during the offseason.
The trendier move these days, though, is to go with fresh blood -- often times from the coordinator ranks. In fact, four of the 11 new coaches in Division I-A are 36-years-old or younger.
Each year a handful of top college football coordinators are plucked from their X's and O's role and placed in position of Commander in Chief. Head coaches realize the value of an elite coordinator and would rather take a budget hit than lose their right-hand men to another school. Hence the million-dollar salary plateau reached by some of the top coordinators. Often times, however, turnover is inevitable.
The following is not a ranking of the top coordinators from a scheme and play-calling perspective. That's a different debate altogether. Instead, here's a look at the 10 coordinators that I believe will make the best head-coaching candidates a year from now:
1. David Cutcliffe, Tennessee offense
Cutcliffe got a raw deal at Mississippi, and he deserves another chance as a head coach should he pursue that route in the future. Health concerns exist after bypass surgery prevented him from assuming the offensive coordinator job at Notre Dame in 2005. However, Cutcliffe took time off to regain his strength and doctors are giving him a vote of confidence in regards to his coaching return.