UPDATED: Hot Board Coaching Candidates

Now that Steve Kragthorpe is officially out as Louisville head coach, the search is on for his replacement. Will Tom Jurich go after a proven head coach or take a chance on an exciting coordinator? InsideTheVille.com breaks down the potential candidates.

UPDATES

11/28 - Added TCU coach Gary Patterson; new updates for Phil Fulmer and Kyle Whittingham

11/29 - Charlie Strong comments on Louisville rumors after Florida's win over Florida State on Saturday.

11/30 - Updated Kevin Sumlin's profile with Boston Globe comment.

Charlie Strong, Defensive Coordinator, Florida
There's no better defensive coordinator in college football. Strong has been one of the top defensive coordinators in the SEC for the last decade, and helped Florida to two national championships. His defenses play an exciting, stifling style that is based on speed and pressuring the quarterback and he's regarded as an excellent recruiter in Florida and the south.

Downside The Norm Chow effect? Strong has been an assistant for 26 years but has no head coaching experience. Still, he's rumored to be one of Tom Jurich's top candidates and could emerge with an opportunity to rebuild the Louisville program.

Update: 11/29 - Strong was asked about the UofL rumors after Florida's win over FSU on Saturday. Here's what he told the Tampa Bay Tribune:

"I know my job is here right now and it's the only thing I can worry about," Strong said. "You can't let yourself get consumed with (getting a head coaching job). My job is, 'Let's go beat Alabama.' What can I do? If they are going to hire me, they are going to hire me. But my job right now, 'Let's go beat Bama.'"

Kevin Sumlin, head coach, houston
Sumlin has turned Houston's program around during his two-year stint, getting the Cougars into the Top 25 this season after wins over Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. Regarded as an excellent recruiter, Sumlin's known for producing explosive offensives that score points in bunches. The Cougars won the Armed Services Bowl game last season and are 9-2 this season. Houston has scored 50 or more points three times this season and have topped 40 points two times.

Downside It's hard to find a downside with Sumlin. He's only been a head coach for two years so he's not the most experienced candidate, but he's proven he can turn around a struggling program in quick order and beat BCS teams without the similar resources.

Update 11/30 - "Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe was fired Saturday. Look for Houston coach Kevin Sumlin to jump to the top of the Cardinals' list." - Boston Globe

gary patterson, head coach, tcu
Patterson, in his ninth season at TCU, has had five 11-win seasons. This season, Patterson led the Horned Frogs to an unbeaten regular-season and the Mountain West championship. Patterson's program has played in a bowl game each year, expect one, and he's won four straight bowls. TCU has finished in the Top 25 six times and are currently ranked No. 4 in the BCS standings. Patterson is 83-27 overall at TCU.

Downside Can't think of one. Patterson is one of the top coaches in college football and has made TCU a legitimate power program. Would he leave TCU? Patterson turned down a job offer from Minnesota worth more than $2 million. Patterson also has interviewed with Auburn, Tennessee and Iowa State, and has said "it would have to be very special for me and have more advantages," for him to leave TCU.

UPDATE: 11/28 - ESPN's Joe Schad reports that Louisville would love to speak with Patterson about its coaching vacancy.

Mike Leach, head coach, texas tech

There have been several published reports that indicate Leach and UofL have mutual interest. In his ninth season at Texas Tech, Leach is 82-42 and his teams are routinely among the nation's best offenses. Leach has guided Texas Tech to nine consecutive bowl games and had seven consecutive seasons with at least 8 wins. Leach is 5-4 in bowl games and led Texas Tech to an 11-2 record last year. Leach has guided Tech to four Top 25 finishes during his tenure.

Downside Mike Leach has never been known as a defensive coach and his eccentric ways might not be the best fit in Louisville. Plus, Leach just signed a three year contract extension that will pay him $2.5 million in 2013 and is also set to collect $800 thousand if he's still coaching on Jan. 1. Leach was frustrated with support before agreeing to his extension and won a no-buyout clause in the new agreement.

Tommy Tuberville, Former head coach, Auburn
Tuberville resigned after 10 seasons at Auburn, a successful tenure that included 85 wins, the best season in school history (13-0, 2004), and the 2004 SEC Championship. Tuberville won 8 or more games in seven of his ten years at AU. He was the national coach of the year in 2004. Tuberville also had an impressive 7-3 mark against rival Alabama and a 6-3 record in bowl games at Ole Miss and Auburn, including victories in the Sugar and Cotton bowls.

Notable Louisville fans remember "Auburn Gate," in Bobby Petrino's first season. That was the secret meeting between AU officials and Petrino about possibly replacing Tuberville as the Tigers coach that was exposed in the media, embarrassing Petrino and leading to the dismissal of Auburn's president.

Downside You know what you're getting with Tuberville, a proven coach who recruits well in the south, knows defense and wins big games (5-2 record against Top 5 teams at AU). You also understand he's not regarded for producing exciting offense. If Tuberville lands the position, Louisville would need to hire a top-notch offensive coordinator to round out Tuberville's staff.

Phil Fulmer, Former head coach, Tennessee
Fulmer's record in 16 seasons at Tennessee speaks loudly for itself: 1 BCS National Championship (1998), two SEC Championships and three other SEC Championship game appearances. Fulmer compiled a 152-52 record at UT and won eight or more games in 14 of 16 seasons. Despite 14 bowl appearances, Fulmer missed bowl games twice in his last four seasons in Knoxville, ending with losing records in 2005 (5-6) and 2008 (5-7). Fulmer never lost to Kentucky, Louisville's biggest non-conference rival.

Notable Fulmer has been biding his time preparing for a return to coaching next year. He's visited with college and NFL camps, updated his organizational charts and has been putting together a potential staff. Fulmer's chomping at the bit for a school committed to winning and has potential to play at the highest level.

Downside His age. Fulmer will be 60 next season and had the worst season of his career in his final year at Tennessee. The question with Fulmer is whether or not he has enough gas in the tank for a rebuilding job at Louisville? Fulmer, though, is itching to return to the sidelines and is believed to have expressed strong interest in taking over the Louisville program.

Update: 11/28 - ESPN's Joe Schad reports that Fulmer is interested in the Louisville job.

Kyle Whittingham, Head Coach, Utah
The 2008 Paul Bryant National Coach of the Year, Whittingham took over for Urban Meyer at Utah. A veteran defensive coach, Whittingham has compiled a 40-15 record in four seasons at Utah, including a 13-0 mark last year that included a Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama to finish No. 2 in the polls. Whittingham has also led the Utes to four straight bowl victories.

Downside Whittingham is a mountain west guy who played at BYU and has coached at Utah the last 15 years. He currently makes more than $1 million per season at Utah and would be tough to pry away. You also have to wonder how well he would recruit in the southeast?

Update: 11/28 - ESPN's Joe Schad reports that Louisville would like to speak with Whittingham about it's job.

Butch Jones, head coach, Central Michigan

Jones is an intriguing candidate. He took over at Central Michigan after Brian Kelly went to Cincinnati. He also has Big East experience after coaching at West Virginia under Rich Rodriguez and was a favorite of a segment of Mountaineer boosters to replace Rodriguez when he went to Michigan. In three years, Jones is 25-13 and working on his second Mid American Conference title this season with a 7-0 record. Jones will guide the Chippewas to a third straight bowl game this year and beat Michigan State on the road earlier this season. CMU is 9-2 this year.

Downside Jones has only three years head coaching experience and you have to wonder how much of his success at Central Michigan is directly related to Brian Kelly, who obviously left the Chippewa's cupboard well stocked.

Jim McElwain, Offensive Coordinator, Alabama
A former John L. Smith assistant at Louisville, McElwain is the highly successful offensive coordinator at Alabama. In recent years, he's turned around both Fresno State and Alabama's offense. McElwain also has NFL experience as the quarterback coach in Oakland and was an accomplished special teams coach at UofL and Michigan State.

Downside McElwain has only three years experience as an offensive coordinator with no head coaching experience.

Jon Gruden, Former head coach Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Gruden was the overwhelming favorite of Louisville fans. A former Super Bowl winner with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 'Chucky' is sitting out coaching this season while serving as an analyst on Monday Night Football. Gruden is known as a fiery, hard charging coach with a true passion for the game – and winning. In 11 NFL seasons, Gruden took two different teams to the AFC (Oakland) and NFC (Tampa Bay) Championship game and compiled a 95-81 record.

Notable Gruden's brother, Jay, was a former starting quarterback at the University of Louisville, leading the Cards to an 8-3 record in 1988.

Downside Nobody's perfect right? You have to look long and hard to find a downside to hiring Gruden. Let's give it a try. Gruden's been an NFL coach since 1991. He does have college coaching experience on his resume but you have to go back to his days at Pacific as an assistant in 1989 to find it. Early this month, Gruden agreed to a two-year deal with ESPN to continue with Monday Night Football, seemingly making Gruden a pipe-dream for the job. While the rumors were hot and heavy surrounding Gruden for a while they have cooled considerably in recent weeks.

Jeff Jagodzinski, former head coach, Boston College

Before getting fired at Boston College for interviewing with the New York Jets, Jagodzinski led the Eagles to consecutive ACC championship game appearances. In two years with the Eagles, Jagodzinski went 20-8, with two bowl appearances.

Downside He's been fired twice in the past year by Boston College and Tampa Bay. With a wandering eye for the NFL and his recent track record of firings, he'd be a risky hire for a Louisville program in need of a stabilizing presence running the program.

Chris petersen, head coach, Boise State
Perhaps no other coach in the nation has done more with less than Petersen. The Paul 'Bear' Bryant Coach of the Year in 2006 after leading Boise to a perfect 13-0 record and a thrilling victory over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, Petersen has compiled a gaudy 45-4 record in his fourth season at Boise. Petersen is known for his explosive, creative and entertaining offenses as Boise State routinely is among the nation's best offensive teams. Petersen currently makes $850,000 at Boise State, significantly less than either Bobby Petrino or Steve Kragthorpe commanded at Louisville.

Downside Though he's only lost four career games, two have come in bowl games to ECU and TCU. A college coach since 1987, Petersen, a California native, has only spent one year of his coaching career away from the west coast (1992 at Pittsburgh). Could he recruit in the southeast, an area that has become vital to Louisville's success on the field?

Kyle Shanahan, Offensive Coordinator, houston texans
Shanahan, 29, is the son of former Denver Bronco coach Mike Shanahan and is the youngest coordinator in the National Football League. In his second season as coordinator in Houston, Shanahan is considered one of the young, up and coming offensive coaches in the NFL.

Downside His age. He's only 29 and despite six years experience as an NFL assistant has no head coaching experience at any level. He also turned down an offer from Minnesota coach Tim Brewster to be the Gophers offensive coordinator in 2007 because of his desire to coach in the NFL.


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