Vanderbilt must hire a qualified head coach

With the snubbing by Gus Malzahn, Vanderbilt vice chancellor David Williams should take his time naming a successor to Robby Caldwell. This isn't mid July when Bobby Johnson retired just a few weeks before preseason practice. There's plenty to time to make a sound choice of a new head coach.

If Vandy students have to go on Christmas break without knowing who their next head coach will be, then so be it. Surely the students would rather Williams take his time and find a fully qualified coach.

Speaking of qualifications, what do we really want in a Vanderbilt head coach? The desired end result is Commodore victories, more of them than losses every season and without sacrificing the school‘s emphasis on academics and playing by the rules. What kind of experience would a coach need to have a chance to win at Vanderbilt? In my opinion they need four types of experience to be successful: 1) head coaching experience 2) SEC experience and 3) experience working with athletes at institutions with higher academic standards and 4) the ability to recruit.

We'll take a look at these four areas of experience and how they relate to several candidates that have already been thoroughly mentioned and a couple of others that haven't: Don Treadwell, James Franklin, Tommy Bowden, Tommy Tuberville (yes), and Mike Haywood.


Don Treadwell, Michigan State's offensive coordinator, hasn't been a head coach before except for two games this season in which he filled in for head coach Mark Dantonio, who had suffered a heart attack. Treadwell did pretty well though, he coached the Spartans to two wins including a win over very tough Wisconsin team. James Franklin, offensive coordinator at Maryland, has never been a head coach at any level, even temporarily.

Then we have the experienced, seasoned head coaches who are said to be interested in Vanderbilt. One is Tommy Bowden who posted a 90-49 record in 12 years as a head coach at Tulane and Clemson. The other is Tommy Tuberville who has 117-65 record in 15 years as a head coach at Ole Miss, Auburn and Texas Tech.

Mike Haywood at Miami (Ohio) is another coaching prospect with head coaching experience that the Commodore admin should have their eyes on. In just his second year of coaching the Redhawks, Haywood's team posted a 9-4 record and will take on Middle Tennessee in the Bowl.


SEC coaching experience is another aspect of a coach that David Williams needs to consider when looking for the right man. Why is that important? It's important because the SEC is a different animal from the rest of college football; just look at the previous four national champions. How can you compete in this juggernaut conference if you don't have someone who knows his enemy?

Don Treadwell has no SEC coaching experience but the Big Ten is no slouch. James Franklin also doesn't have any SEC experience but he has coached as an assistant in the only league tougher than the SEC, the NFL. Mike Haywood was an assistant at LSU for several years. Tommy Bowden coached nine years in the SEC including stints at Alabama, Auburn and Kentucky. Tuberville gets the edge here with all his SEC head coaching experience at Auburn and Ole Miss.


Treadwell has two years experience as an assistant coach at Stanford. He also coached two years at Boston College. Haywood coached two years at Army and three years at Notre Dame. He played for the Irish as well. Franklin coached a year at James Madison. Tuberville has never coached at an highly regarded academic institution. Bowden was the head coach at Tulane for two years and was also an assistant at Duke for four years.


Recruiting his harder to gauge. Ideally you want a recruiter who already has extensive recruiting contacts and connections. Franklin is reportedly an excellent recruiter. He won a national recruiting award a few years ago. Both Bowden and Tuberville with their years of head coaching experience have likely developed a network of ties to high school coaches throughout the south. Haywood, too, has coached in Texas, Louisiana in addition to his current Ohio so he also likely has a solid network of recruiting contacts in some football talent hot beds. Treadwell has coached mostly in the Midwest but has also had short stints in North Carolina and California.

Here's how I rate the aforementioned coaches on a scale of 0 to 5 (0 no experience, 5 much experience) in the four critical areas of experience.


Mike Haywood
3 3 3 4 13

Tommy Bowden
5 4 5 5 19

Tommy Tuberville
5 5 0 5 15

James Franklin
0 0 1 5 6

Don Treadwell
1 0 3 4 8

Let's hope Williams takes the time to get this right because if he doesn't, they'll be plenty of time to regret a rash decision. Top Stories