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Where Do Head Coaches Come From, Daddy?

Once in a while, an athletic director gets lucky and catches lightning in a bottle. They hire a football coach who wasn’t a coordinator, wasn’t a head coach, and wasn’t from a great coaching “tree”. And the guy turns out to be pure gold. Doesn’t happen very often and it didn’t happen at Rutgers.

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One game to go to become bowl eligible (wow, aren't you excited about that prospect?). And then what? Certainly the people in this community and on a lot of other sites have very negative views of Kyle Flood returning. But did he belong here in the first place? Flood wasn't even on the initial list that was reported in January of 2012. He had never been a head coach and had only been "Co-Offensive Coordinator" for two seasons under Schiano. He was Assistant Head Coach at Delaware under K.C. Keeler, a UDel alum who had most of his success at D3 Rowan (and was fired by Delaware).

Let's take a look at a random selection of other D1 FBS coaches to see what their pedigrees were before that got to where they are now. For lightning in a bottle, go to current BCS-buster darling Northern Illinois. Rod Carey had never been a head coach and had two stints as a coordinator. The first was at D3 Wisconsin-Stout and then as his own OC in 2012 when he ran the offense as head coach. Other than that, his experience included three years at North Dakota, one year at Illinois State, and two years as a GA at Minnesota.

From The American, I took UCF's George O'Leary, SMU's June Jones, and Houston's Tony Levine. O'Leary had been HC at Georgia Tech for a year and was almost HC at Notre Dame until a botched resume took him out of the job. But he also had head coaching experience in the pros with Minnesota and San Diego, and had been a DC at Syracuse and with both the Chargers and Vikings. June Jones has been to a few rodeos in his day, including OC in the CFL with the Ottawa Rough Riders. His OC experience was mainly in the pros with the CFL and the NFL's Falcons. He was the interim HC with the Chargers and then had the Hawaii job for nine years. Houston's Levine had limited experience but he was the Assistant Head Coach at Houston and Special Teams Coordinator before taking the head spot. Prior to Houston, he was an assistant at Louisville and with the Carolina Panthers.

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Darrell Hazell at Purdue has Rutgers in his history. He has 27 years in coaching, including six years Assistant Head Coach under Jim Tressel at Ohio State. He was HC at Kent State for two (including beating Rutgers in Piscataway) before getting the job at Purdue.

Penn State's Bill O'Brien has both credentials and a coaching tree. From 2001 to 2002, O'Brien served as Georgia Tech's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach and was named an assistant head coach for the 2002 season. In 2002 he was hired as Notre Dame's offensive Coordinator before George O'Leary was dismissed. He spent five years in New England under Belicheck, including one as OC.

Tim Beckman at Illinois spent three years as head coach at Toledo, where he led the Rockets to two bowl appearances and a Mid-American Conference West Division co-championship. Before accepting Toledo's head coaching position, Beckman had 21 years of experience as an assistant coach. He served as the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma State (2007-08), the cornerbacks coach at Ohio State (2005-06), the defensive coordinator/assistant head coach at Bowling Green (1998-2004), the defensive coordinator at Elon (1996-97), the secondary coach/recruiting coordinator at Western Carolina (1990-95) and a graduate assistant at Auburn (1988-89).

Mark Dantonio had a wealth of quality experience before landing in East Lansing with the Spartans. He served as defensive secondary coach at Akron (1985); defensive secondary coach and defensive coordinator at Youngstown State (1986-90 - four times in 1-AA playoffs under Tressel); defensive secondary coach at Kansas (1991-94); defensive secondary coach (1995-2000) and associate head coach (2000) at Michigan State; defensive coordinator at Ohio State (2001-03); head coach at Cincinnati (2004-06).

And you can go on. Florida State's Jimbo Fisher was OC under Bobby Bowden and was OC at Cincinnati and LSU for a total of eleven years. Les Miles at LSU was OC at Oklahoma State for three years before he went to the Dallas Cowboys and then was HC at OK State. Charlie Strong was Assistant Head Coach at Florida under Urban Meyers, a DC at South Carolina and Florida before Louisville. David Shaw was Stanford's OC for four years before being named HC, and he spent nine years in the NFL on the offensive side.

So you look at what others have done and then you look in Piscataway. Is there any comparison? What do you think?