PowerMizzou Coaching Hot Board v1.0
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Missouri is officially in the market for a head football coach. Missouri fired Barry Odom after four seasons. Here is our initial list of candidates to replace him.
Before we get to the list, a few notes: This initial list is some combination of coaches whose names we have heard mentioned as we have talked about the possibility of a coaching change with sources and coaches who simply make sense for Missouri. As the search goes on, we will update the list and create new versions of the hot board.
Currently: Head coach, Boise State
Resume: Harsin started at Boise State as a GA in 2001 and was the OC and QB coach under Chris Petersen for five seasons before being hired as co-offensive coordinator at Texas. He spent 2013 as the Arkansas State head coach before being hired back at Boise where he has gone 61-16 so far in six seasons.
Salary/Buyout: $1.75 million salary / Buyout = $500,000
Pros: Harsin has continued the success at Boise that his predecessors had. It is one of the premier G5 programs in the country. He is 42 years old, has head coaching experience and an offensive background. Mizzou could probably double his salary. He checks every box.
Cons: Harsin didn't build Boise. He simply came in and didn't screw up what those before him had built. He's never been a Power Five head coach, but the truth it, it's unlikely Missouri is going to hire someone who has done that and done it well.
Our Take: Harsin would be at the top of the list if we were making the list. We can't promise he is. But we have had some indication that he's a candidate Missouri will be taking a look at.
Currently: Head coach, Iowa State
Resume: Campbell went 36-15 as the head coach at Toledo and took the job in Ames. He is 26-23 in four seasons so far, but is headed for his third consecutive eight-win seasons. That has happened only one other time in school history. In fact, with eight wins this year, Campbell will own three of the ten eight-win seasons in Cyclone history. He has beaten five top 25 teams and hasn't lost a game by more than 14 points in three years.
Salary/Buyout: $3.6 million salary / Buyout = $6 million
Pros: He's built before. Twice. And he's done it at places that are harder to do it than Columbia. His teams play hard. He's young. He's been one of the hottest coaches in the country for about four years.
Cons: He's been one of the hottest coaches in the country for about four years. He may be off the board to a place bigger than Missouri. Even if he isn't, six million is a lot of dollars for an asset-strapped athletic department to find...before even paying his salary or his staff's.
Our Take: You make the first call to Campbell selling the idea that he's maxed out what he can do in Ames and should move to a place with a higher ceiling. But the truth is, you expect it to be rejected. Campbell's next move is probably going to be somewhere he thinks he can compete for national titles. While the ceiling in Columbia is higher than it is in Ames, it's not as high as places Campbell will probably have a chance to go. We have reason to believe Missouri is interested in Campbell, but not much reason to think it happens.
Currently: Head coach, Memphis
Resume: Norvell has been at Memphis for four seasons and has compiled a 35-15 record. He's put up ridiculous numbers on offense and is one of the hottest names on this year's coaching carousel.
Salary/Buyout: $2.66 million salary / Buyout = $500,000
Pros: Norvell is ready for a move. He is going to be a candidate listed for virtually every open Power Five job this offseason. He's got the credentials, he's relatively young, he's in close geographic proximity and has even recruited some of the same areas Mizzou recruits.
Cons: The truth is he's probably already going to have another job before Missouri is ready to make a hire. He is a top candidate at Arkansas and Florida State, both of whom started their searches weeks before Mizzou.
Our Take: Norvell is on the list until he is no longer available. We have reason to believe Missouri likes him. He could already be well down the road in negotiations with someone else, but with Memphis playing in the AAC title game next week, Mizzou may have gained a little time to jockey for position.
Currently: Head coach, Wake Forest
Resume: Clawson just completed his 19th season as a head coach. He's the definition of a grinder, moving up the ladder from Fordham to Richmond to Bowling Green to Wake Forest. He has greatly improved the win total everywhere he's been and is the first coach in Wake Forest history to win three straight bowl games. The next logical step is to take his shot at a Power Five school that has more tradition and a better chance to win than Wake.
Salary/Buyout: $2.189 million salary / Buyout = Unknown
Pros: Clawson has won everywhere he's been. He's experienced, he's built programs, he fits the profile of, say, Gary Pinkel, who worked his way up the ladder before getting the job at Missouri. If you can win in Winston-Salem, you can win a lot of places.
Cons: He's not going to make a big splash with the fanbase. It's not the most exciting hire. He won't get things going overnight. But this would easily be the best situation he's ever taken over in five different stops. He's been almost exclusively an East Coast coach with no ties to any area Missouri recruits significantly. He also signed an extension through 2026. With the buyout unknown, would the cost to get him be worth it?
Our Take: Clawson fits the profile of what it takes to be successful at Missouri. It's not going to blow anyone away, but it would be a very similar hire to Pinkel and that worked out okay.
Currently: Head coach, Eastern Michigan
Resume: Creighton has worked his way from NAIA to Division III to FCS to FBS. He's 164-91 over 23 seasons as a head coach. He's improved everywhere he's been. After a 3-21 start at EMU, he's 25-24 over his last three seasons and is likely headed to his third bowl game. Creighton has a chance at his third seven-win season in four years. In the four years prior, EMU won seven games total.
Salary/Buyout: $470,000 salary / Buyout = $400,000
Pros: Creighton is experienced, he wins and he has built programs in far worse shape than Missouri. If Clawson is the ultimate grinder, Creighton might be that plus a little. He's never coached anywhere with resources or support anywhere close to Mizzou and he's won. What could he do if given a chance?
Cons: He's 17 games under .500 at Eastern Michigan. If Missouri fires an alum who was .500 and hires a guy who has that record at Eastern Michigan, the fanbase is going to be scratching its collective head. It is a hire that would probably be viewed as smart and interesting in the college football community and terrible by the fans.
Our Take: Creighton is a good coach. It wouldn't be a bad hire. It would be viewed as cheap and probably not a step up from what they already had.
Currently: Head coach, SMU
Resume: Dykes had stints at Louisiana Tech and Cal prior to taking over at SMU two years ago. He had mild success at both places and has taken the Mustangs to 9-1 and a top 25 ranking in their best season since Eric Dickerson rolled up in his Trans Am.
Salary/Buyout: Salary unknown/ Buyout = unknown
Pros: Dykes is hot this year. He's brought in a lot of talent in two seasons and has the Mustangs playing exciting football and in the mix for an AAC title. He's an offensive coach and would inject life into that side of the ball in Columbia. Ties to Texas could also be a selling point.
Cons: His resume is okay at best. His only Power Five job was in Berkeley where he went 19-30 and interviewed for every job under the sun. He was under consideration when Missouri hired Odom in 2015 and was largely met with opposition from the fanbase.
Our Take: Dykes is having a good year. It would not be a hire that would be met with much excitement from the fanbase or a significant upgrade over the guy Mizzou just fired.
Currently: Head coach, Louisiana
Resume: Napier spent 15 years as an assistant at Clemson, Alabama, Colorado State and Arizona State before getting the head coaching job in Lafayette before last season. He has gone 16-9 in two years including 9-2 this year. He's one of the hottest mid-major names on the carousel this year.
Salary/Buyout: Salary $875,000 / Buyout = unknown
Pros: Napier has done a good job in his first shot at being a head coach. He is experienced as an assistant and has spent plenty of time in the Southeast where he could have built-in recruiting ties. The price tag wouldn't be a hurdle.
Cons: His two years have been good, but they're just two years. And can he recruit the type of players at Mizzou he did at Alabama or Clemson? Obviously not. He is likely to be fielding calls from plenty of suitors.
Our Take: Napier fits the profile. If we were making the list, he'd be in the top group. The plugged in fans would like it. Would it get casual fans to buy in and come back to the stadium? Not sure. We've also had some initial indication that he may hold out for a bigger job before making a move.
Currently: Head coach, Cincinnati
Resume: Fickell was an Ohio State assistant for 15 years before taking over at Cincinnati. He is 31-18 with the Bearcats, has them in the AAC title game and potentially headed to a New Year's six bowl.
Salary/Buyout: Salary $2.3 million / Buyout = $2.5 million
Pros: Fickell has been around successful programs and has won in three years as a head coach. He is a guy that is primed to make the move to a Power Five conference if he wants to. He will be on a lot of lists this year.
Cons: He has been in Ohio for 25 years. He has never coached outside of Ohio. Is Missouri a job that's going to get him to make the move? In addition, he's a defensive guy. That doesn't disqualify him, but in general if you fire a defensive coach, you go for an offensive guy the next time around.
Our Take: Fickell would be a home run. It seems unlikely Missouri could get him.
Jim Mora, Jr.
Currently: ESPN analyst
Resume: Mora was an NFL coach for 25 years before coaching at UCLA from 2012-2017. He was 46-30 overall, but went 9-14 in his last two years. Since being let go at UCLA he has worked for ESPN.
Salary/Buyout: Salary unknown / Buyout = N/A
Pros: Mora has plenty of experience. He's been around the game for a long time and has been a Power Five head coach. He doesn't cost any money on top of his salary. We have been told he has interest in getting back on the sidelines.
Cons: He has been a West Coast guy almost exclusively for nearly four decades. His one college job he was decent, but not great and it did not end well. UCLA still hasn't recovered under Chip Kelly.
Our Take: Mora is the most interesting name we've heard who is not currently coaching. But does he excite fans? Plus, it just seems like a weird fit.
Currently: Head coach, Arkansas State
Resume: Anderson has been a hot mid-major name for quite some time. After 21 years as an assistant at every level, he took over at Arkansas State in 2014. He has gone 46-30 in six seasons as the Red Wolves head coach.
Salary/Buyout: Salary $825,000 / Buyout = $1 million
Pros: Anderson is an up and comer and one of the most well-liked coaches in college football. He has worked his way up from junior college to mid-majors to the Power Five as an assistant before taking over at ASU in 2014. He has gone 46-29 and is eligible for his sixth consecutive bowl game.
Cons: Anderson has done a good job. But he has little experience at the Power Five level overall and none as a head coach. His wife passed away earlier this year and he and his family have strong connections to Jonesboro and have been embraced by the community. He may be a guy that is simply happy where he is.
Our Take: Anderson would be a solid hire. But, again, would it be one that got the fanbase at large excited about the future? Probably not.
Currently: Head coach, Tulane
Resume: Fritz started his career as an assistant at high schools and junior colleges in Kansas. He got his first head coaching job at Central Missouri, where he stayed for 13 seasons and won more than two thirds of his games. He is 176-95 in ten seasons at Sam Houston State, Georgia Southern and Tulane.
Salary/Buyout: Salary $1.612 million / Buyout = unknown
Pros: Fritz is an innovative coach who has won at places that are tough to win. He's got area ties with so much time in Warrensburg. He's experienced and he's been successful at every stop.
Cons: Fritz is older than most coaches on the list and he's never been at a Power Five school in any capacity.
Our Take: Fritz is riskier than most here. Does his game translate to the Power Five level? And does he get casual fans excited? The first answer is unknown. The second is probably not.
Currently: Passing Game Coordinator, LSU
Resume: Brady is 30 years old. He was a linebackers coach at William & Mary, then a GA at Penn State and then an offensive assistant with the New Orleans Saints before LSU hired him as the passing game coordinator before the season. He is largely credited with the success of LSU's much-improved offense led by Heisman front-runner Joe Burrow.
Salary/Buyout: Salary $410,000 / Buyout = Unknown
Pros: Brady is a potential star. He is the next Lincoln Riley right now. He has brought the country's best offense to a place that has been known for offenses that hamstrung teams that should have won national titles with even a decent attack. He's the hottest name in college coaching.
Cons: He's going to be one of the nation's highest paid assistants in Baton Rouge or get a ton of money from somebody to take over a program. He's never been a solo coordinator, much less a head coach. There's major risk.
Our Take: It would be the most unconventional hire on the board and potentially the best. But Brady is going to be a multimillionaire head coach in the next few years. Is he willing to make the jump for the Missouri job right now or can he get a seven-figure salary as an assistant in Baton Rouge and parlay another big year or two into a better job? We would love the hire. We don't see it as very likely.
Others Names we Considered
We think Jim Sterk is almost certain to target someone with head coaching experience. We considered some other offensive coordinators like Ricky Rahne (Penn State), Rhett Lashlee (SMU), Graham Harrell (USC) and Marcus Arroyo (Oregon), but we just don't ultimately see Sterk going that route.
We've got two wild card names:
Rich Rodriguez, Ole Miss offensive coordinator: We don't see this as too likely because Missouri has had some issues with the NCAA of late and RichRod had some of his own while he was at Michigan. He's an elite playcaller and has the Ole Miss offense playing fun football. He's been a head coach. He's in the SEC. It's a name we think should be considered, but we don't view as likely.
Rick Neuheisel, ESPN analyst: Someone mentioned this to us as a possibility. We have a hard time believing it. Neuheisel has called a couple Mizzou games this year and we are led to believe is interested in getting back into coaching. But he's been out of the game for eight years now and was under .500 at UCLA (before they hired Jim Mora Jr.). It would be the craziest hire we can imagine. Ultimately, even though the name was brought up to us, we just can't believe it's a real possibility.