Defensive Coordinator Search Comes to a Head

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Flood has his list for what has become the slowest defensive coordinator hiring process of all time.

No one describes Kyle Flood as having a sense of urgency on the field, and it seems that his demeanor is the same off it. The defensive coordinator search now stands at 26 days and counting, if you start from the Pinstripe Bowl last month. This is an absolutely crucial time to have someone in place due to recruiting and National Signing Day right around the corner, but Flood appears to be having a hard time securing a commitment, both in terms of a coordinator and an actual recruit.

You can arguably say that the search has taken its toll on the class of 2014, as Orangewood Christian (Orlando, FL) cornerback Waynedriko Smith de-committed this past weekend. The vultures are circling now, as reports have confirmed that Wisconsin, Notre Dame, and Penn State have made full-fledged attempts to flip other members of the Scarlet Knight recruiting class. Saeed Blacknall is certainly giving Rutgers fans a scare after reports confirmed he was in State College this past week.

Flood needs to get his coordinator search done now, before the entire class unravels. Here are the leading candidates for the defensive coordinator position:

Robb Smith - The Favorite

Fans know Smith quite well, as he was the architect of the top-10 defense from 2012. He was instrumental in continuing the success of Schiano's aggressive style, and helped send several members of the championship winning unit to the NFL. Smith reportedly has an open invitation to join the Arkansas Razorback's staff in the same position, so he is most likely on the cusp of a decision. Odds are that he is the leading candidate, and if he wants the job, Kyle Flood will give it to him.

Frank Spaziani - The Consolation Prize

Spaz might be infamous for the dumpster fire he ignited at Boston College a couple of years ago, but he actually has a legitimate track record of defensive success, as mentioned in this article. Spaziani knows the area well and could possibly serve as a recruiting guide as well, as he hails from the Garden State. He also has experience sending great defensive players to the pros. He is second on the list and will most likely be offered the position if Robb Smith takes the Arkansas job (or goes elsewhere).

Rob Vanderlinden - The Recruiting Hire

Vanderlinden is the guy who deserves a chance as a full-fledged B1G defensive coordinator. He served as Northwestern DC from 1992-1996, during which NU won two trips to the Rose Bowl. He leveraged his success into a head coaching job at Maryland, where he found mediocre success. However, it's important to note that before Vanderlinden arrived in College Park, mediocre success was relatively great considering the past tradition of Maryland football. The biggest takeaway was his recruiting success. He earned commitments from LB E.J. Henderson and WR Guilian Gary, both very highly-rated as prospects. After his tenure at Maryland, he was instrumental in continuing the tradition of great linebackers at Penn State. Vanderlinden aided in the development of Paul Posluszny and Dan Connor, both of whom were Bednarik Award winners. He is also credited with the recruitment of star wideout Allen Robinson and LB Gerald Hodges (who is from Paulsboro, NJ).

Vanderlinden would be a good choice, and might even be the right choice, but it's hard to pass on Robb Smith if he decides to come back.

Joe Rossi - The Long Shot

Scarlet Nation has reported before that Joe Rossi is still in consideration, despite the defense's performance in the Pinstripe Bowl. This is quite simply an in-house hire, an attempt at continuity. Rossi's connection is from Robb Smith, who coached with Rossi at Maine. When Smith departed for RU in 2008, Rossi inherited the defensive coordinator position at Maine. While it's possible that Rossi can develop into a fine coordinator, there are better prospects for the position out there, and it would be the wrong move to promote Rossi at this point in time.

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