Werner's Whits: Retread who makes sense

Illini Inquirer publisher Jeremy Werner offers one intriguing -- even if unlikely -- retread coaching candidate for Illinois

I'm not a big fan of hiring retread head coaches in college football. That is, hiring college coaches who had failed at their previous spots  -- failed NFL coaches is another matter and more intriguing to me, though. Looking at a list of current FBS coaches, retread hires (head coaches fired at a previous head coaching job) include: Rich Rodriguez (Arizona), Mike Leach (Washington State), Skip Holtz (C-USA), Ron Turner (FIU), Larry Coker (UTSA), Terry Bowden (Akron), Frank Solich (Ohio) and Dennis Franchione (Texas State). Most of these coaches went from high-level jobs to lower-level jobs. Mike Leach went from a traditionally lower-level Big 12 program (Texas Tech) to a low-level Pac-12 program (Washington State). Rodriguez turned a great tenure at West Virginia into the Michigan job. He didn't win over many fans and didn't win enough games to have enough time to implement his zone-read spread offense. He likely now will turn a successful tenure at Arizona into an even higher-level job.

I haven't liked many of the retread names mentioned for Illinois. The NCAA wouldn't be wrong to laugh if Illinois, which just fired a coach for alleged abuse of players, asked for Jim Tressel's show-cause to be lifted. Oh, and Tressel -- who doesn't sound interested in coaching again -- helped sell Tim Beckman to Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas, for what that's worth. While Bo Pelini won games at Nebraska -- unlike his replacement Mike Riley, so far -- his hard-driving, hot-tempered ways also might not be the best idea at Illinois. Greg Schiano seems to be waiting for a big job, if it ever comes. As a head coach, Lane Kiffin has only left a wake of anger. Former Michigan head coach Brady Hoke probably will have to re-start at a lower level. And, NO THANKS to Al Golden. He had less success than Ron Zook in the state of Florida.

The one retread that would be a no-brainer is a guy who hasn't been fired -- not yet, at least. But there are several reports that Georgia boosters are calling for the dismissal of long-time coach Mark RichtLike Nebraska, that might be a careful-what-you-wish-for proposal. Richt, 55, has had a lot of success with the Bulldogs: a 141-51, two SEC championships and six SEC East division titles. But Georgia fans want more. Richt has struggled to win some big games -- injuries to Todd Gurley and Nick Chubb haven't helped in recent years -- and Georgia is one of those jobs that should draw some of the best candidates in the country. After 15 seasons (and an average of almost 10 wins per season), Richt seems to be getting stale in Georgia.

But if Richt wants to keep coaching, he shouldn't be on the market that long. But which of the programs searching for a coach would have interest? Richt is a Miami grad and served as a backup quarterback to future Hall of Famer Jim Kelly. Miami reportedly is looking for someone with Hurricanes ties, so a marriage with Richt makes a lot of sense. Richt, has deep recruiting ties in the South, would finally be appreciated at Miami. If not Miami, would South Carolina or Virginia Tech have much interest? Va. Tech might go after RichRod, and would Richt really want to stay in the SEC East at South Carolina?

Richt might not have much interest in Illinois. But the Illini could offer him a big salary (he makes about $3.3 million at Georgia) and a path to winning. After all, the Illini are in the Big Ten West, where Wisconsin -- a very good, but not elite program -- reigns. Iowa is good, Northwestern is OK, Nebraska is reeling, Minnesota will have a coaching change and Purdue is bad. Richt could rejuvenate his career in a big-time conference within a division that provides opportunity. Richt would bring a pro-style offense to Illinois that has produced a few NFL quarterbacks (David Greene, Matthew Stafford and Aaron Murray), several NFL running backs (Knowshon Moreno, Gurley and -- soon-to-be -- Chubb) and receivers, including A.J. Green. Richt 's staff can recruit at a high level -- look at this list of NFL draft picks -- and would bring big-time buzz on the trail and big-time excitement to the fan base.

But Richt-to-Illinois seems like a pipe dream. Timing may not allow Illinois to pursue Richt. The Illini -- who have had all season to make a hire -- should have a hire within days of the season ending on Nov. 28 against Northwestern at Soldier Field. Will Georgia have fired Richt by then? If so, Illinois can reach out and gauge his interest. If Richt has none, they can quickly move on.

Bur for fans saying 'go big or go home,' Richt is one possible candidate that would certainly fit the description.


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