FootballScoop is reporting that a “number of coaches” have been asked to interview for the Arizona Wildcats job over the past few days. Most of these names aren’t a surprise — Kevin Sumlin, Beau Baldwin, Marcel Yates, Mark Helfrich, and Neal Brown have been mentioned at some time or another. And while Jedd Fisch hasn’t been mentioned as much for the job, at least a few outlets have thrown his name out there.
FootballScoop also listed one more candidate, though: “another former coach who currently is a TV/media presence.” There are no additional details.
However, there are only so many “former coaches” who are “currently a TV / media presence.”
Assuming this person is actually on TV, they probably work for ESPN, FOX, CBS, or the Pac-12 Network. So I went through the lists to identify some of the former NCAA head coaches currently working as TV analysts to see if we can figure out who this mystery candidate is. This isn’t a complete list (sorry, Dave Wannstedt), but here are some of the more plausible (well, more interesting) possibilities:
Gene Chizik, former Auburn head coach, SEC Network
Gene Chizik is the sort of candidate you could talk yourself into. He’s relatively young, he won a national championship at Auburn (entirely due to Cam Newton, but still), and he was great as North Carolina’s defensive coordinator a couple of years ago.
But he doesn’t seem to want to be a coach anymore. Chizik quit his job as defensive coordinator at North Carolina to focus on his family. It seems like he’d rather get paid handsomely to work as a television analyst while spending a lot more time with his family. Seems like a pretty good decision to me, so I assume he’s off the board.
Tommy Tuberville, former Texas Tech head coach, ESPN
As ActionCookbook over at EDSBS pointed out, a team can go a lot of different ways in making a head coaching hire. Do you go with AAC up-and-comer? The SEC veteran? The offensive mind who recruited at a difficult place to recruit? Guess what: Tuberville is all of these things!
Tuberville has coached at Ole Miss, Auburn, Texas Tech, and Cincinnati. His stint at Auburn, in particular, included multiple 10+ win seasons and a Sugar Bowl win. But Arizona is not Auburn, and Tuberville’s more recent stints were significantly less successful. He has also never coached west of Lubbock. Pass.
Rick Neuheisel, former UCLA head coach, CBS Sports
Rick Neuheisel makes sense. He has a history in the Pac-12, coaching teams at UCLA and Washington (he also coached Colorado, though long before they were in the Pac-12). He “expressed interest” in the Arizona State job, so he seems interested in returning to coaching. He even has ties to the state: his dad is an attorney (still practicing!) in Tempe.
How underwhelming would this be, though? He hasn’t coached since 2011, which is an awfully long time off from the sport. And while he won a Rose Bowl at Washington, his UCLA teams did not play very well considering how much talent he had at his disposal. This would be a disappointing hire.
Mack Brown, former Texas head coach, ESPN
Mack Brown is probably the most best case scenario of this group. Like Neuheisel, Brown “expressed interest” in the Arizona State job when it opened up, he coached relatively recently, and while he’s not a traditional West Coast guy, he is well respected, won a national championship, and should at least be able to recruit Texas. Even here, though, there’s a gap — Brown hasn’t coached since 2013. So while this wouldn’t be the worst hire in the world, that doesn’t make it a good one.
Houston Nutt, former Ole Miss head coach, CBS Sports
Houston Nutt has never met a job he wasn’t interested in. I’m not sure Arizona would ask to interview him, but he’d definitely ask to interview at Arizona. So, sure. Maybe.
Lou Holtz, former Notre Dame head coach, ESPN
Lee Corso, former Indiana head coach, ESPN
Herm Edwards, Arizona State head coach, ESPN
Honestly, he may think he is the Wildcats head coach already.
Watch out them Devils, Herm. Watch out them devils.