Needed: More Coaches in Waiting

At first it was Sean Sutton standing by to take over for his father Eddie at Oklahoma State. Then you had Matt Painter serving an apprenticeship in Gene Keady's final season in Purdue. Texas Tech told the world that Pat Knight would succeed his father Bob whenever the time came. Now we have an epidemic of "coach in waiting" appointments.

The latest surge in this situation came when FSU announced that Jimbo Fisher would become the coach in the on-deck circle as the school began to map its future after the eventual departure of Bobby Bowden. Kentucky has Joker Phillips on hold, even though Head Coach Rich Brooks is signed for four more seasons. Jim Caldwell will be the next coach for the Indianapolis Colts and there are indications that Jason Garrett and Jim Mora have been promised the next opening at Dallas and Seattle respectively. This is going to take all the fun out of coaching speculation if there's an heir apparent for every stinking job.

Then again, having certitude with regards to succession has its benefits. You don't have to pretend to have a coaching search. You don't have to overpay for someone who just happens to be a hot name. So let's not criticize the practice. Instead we'll examine some high profile jobs and pick the ideal coach-in waiting to take over.

Gator Football --- Urban Meyer is likely to coach the Gators for another decade, at least matching Steve Spurrier's 12 years and possibly going beyond. So let's say he needs a break in ten years. His ideal replacement would be someone who is kinda new to coaching. Say, Kerwin Bell.

Gator Basketball --- Billy Donovan is on double secret probation where the NBA is concerned, but he'll take another shot at the pro game in a decade or so. Then it'll be time for the Gators to find the first black head coach in Florida Basketball history, but not Anthony Grant who by then will be in his eighth season at Michigan State. Florida's coach in waiting is none other than Rob Lanier.

Okay, that's enough with being somewhat serious.

Alabama Football --- Let's face it, four or five years is the maximum amount of time before Nick Saban gets sick of Alabama and vice versa. They need to designate someone who can take the pressure, someone who has an inflated reputation. The ideal guy is Bobby Petrino.

Arkansas Football --- The Hogs think they should win the SEC every year, but they don't and they won't. Still they need to know who they can turn to when Petrino moves on. The best vagabond available is Nick Saban.

Penn State Football --- It won't be easy to replace Joe Paterno and whoever does has to look the part. The only I guy I can think of who can replace the visual of Paterno on the sidelines is Bill Nye the Science Guy.

Notre Dame Football --- Charlie Weis has turned the once proud Irish into a laughingstock, but it's not funny. To make the transition smooth they need an alumnus who's not funny, Regis Philbin.

South Carolina Football --- You gotta feel for the Gamecocks. Their last two coaching hires have been legends in Lou Holtz and Steve Spurrier. Proven winners who each have a national title on his resume'. But despite that, they are still the same old ‘Cocks, languishing in mediocrity. Spurrier won't be able to take much more so Carolina needs someone who won't disappoint them. Someone who has proven himself to be mediocre would be a perfect fit. I have just the guy in Ray Goff.

Monday Night Football --- John Madden is about 80 so someone has to be ready to step in. Madden is a unique analyst in that he overstates the obvious with such energy and conviction you think he's actually saying something. Sounds a lot like Dave Rowe, doesn't it?

SEC Commissioner --- Mike Slive won't stay much longer and the SEC has to be prepared. This is a really cool job. You have people who negotiate contracts and you get to announce the result. You show up at the BCS title game and when the SEC team wins you get to take pictures with the trophy as if you actually did something. Every May you pass out tens of millions of dollars and now you get to chair the NCAA Basketball Selection Committee. You get paid well and have a plane at your disposal. You get to make major decisions and can share in just about every accomplishment in the SEC. You don't really do any actual work. Sounds perfect for Larry Vettel.

Questions or comments? Contact's Larry Vettel

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