We are now into week FIVE of the Rutgers football coaching search and it’s STILL very few updates have been made in public during this process. I’ll continue to look at potential candidates who have been mentioned in various capacities throughout and evaluate how they are currently trending on the field this season. A lot can change from now until December, when Rutgers AD Pat Hobbs said he plans to make the hire, so I’ll attempt to do a weekly stock watch for candidates as much as possible. To be clear, this isn’t based on anything else other than how their current teams are performing and how they are perceived at the moment, hence affecting their stock as coaches within college football. Whether Rutgers is actively pursuing these candidates or not remains to be seen, but I’ll include updates when any news has come out. Let’s kick it off!
Princeton head coach Bob Surace
Surace won his 16th straight game on Saturday with a 30-24 win over Harvard. I understand people have doubts with Surace since he is coaching at the FCS level, but I think his background, experience, offensive expertise, and local connections make him a top candidate. We don’t know if he is interested, as there are doubts that he is, and also aren’t sure the interest level of Rutgers either. Still, with such a successful coach just down the road, you would think at least a conversation will take place or has already.
Memphis head coach Mike Norvell
The Tigers beat Tulsa 42-41 to move to 7-1 on the season on Saturday. Norvell has a strong offensive pedigree and Memphis has scored 40+ points five times this season. He will certainly be mentioned when any SEC jobs open up and it’s more likely he’d prefer to go that route. However, the search firm that AD Pat Hobbs hired led Kansas State’s job search last year and Norvell was a finalist. That makes it likely he is at least a name being discussed internally.
Last week’s NJ.com’s poll on the coaching search considered every potential candidate BUT Greg Schiano and the “other” candidate, who could be anyone not listed among the nine actual coaches included, won easily with 24.2% of the vote. Most of the potential candidates fans are thinking of when voting for other probably aren’t realistic, but it’s worth mentioning the push for none of the above remains strong.
Rutgers interim head coach Nunzio Campanile
I know it’s a long shot, but after leading Rutgers to a much needed victory over Liberty and the way he has conducted himself the past month in the midst of a very difficult situation, I had to include Campanile on the trending up list this week. He also garnered 16.1% of the vote in that NJ.com poll that “other” won, making him the top vote getter of any real coach included.
With an allegation on twitter that Rutgers officials were asking fans to take down pro-Schiano signs at Saturday’s home game, the question on Schiano having been left out of the transcript in Nunzio Campanile’s press conference after the win over Liberty, as well as the man himself making an appearance at the New Jersey Hall of Fame ceremony on Sunday night, there was a lot of buzz this past weekend for a coach currently unemployed. The public push for Schiano grows stronger by the week, but what’s actually happening behind the scenes is still unclear.
He finished right behind Campanile with 14.6% of the vote in the poll mentioned previously. That shocked me, as he hasn’t coached in college since being fired by Miami in 2015. His background is also on defense. Whether Rutgers has interest remains to be seen, but his upside with recruiting locally and power five experience are pluses.
Currently an offensive analyst for a college football team named Alabama. We profiled his candidacy here, but no word on whether Rutgers is actually considering him or not. He received 12.8% of the vote in the NJ.com poll that, behind Other, Campanile, and Golden.
I’ve said before there should be names of candidates that haven’t been revealed yet and based on a somewhat underwhelming list so far, it’s fair for Rutgers fans to hope that a big name or even an intriguing one will emerge during this search. Hence the popularity of the other candidate in polls. I don’t have any idea who might emerge that we aren’t currently expecting, but there will be someone I suspect. Perhaps it’s someone like Raheem Morris, the former Tampa Bay head coach (the other one) and New Jersey native, who James Kratch mentioned as an out of the box candidate to consider here.
Toledo head coach Jason Candle
Toledo won for the first time in almost a month on Saturday, beating Eastern Michigan 37-34 in OT. Even so, I don’t have Candle in the trending up category as the previous two losses were a reminder he has yet to fully establish himself as a successful head coach in the MAC.
Buffalo head coach Lance Leipold
Buffalo won it’s second game in a row with a 43-20 victory over Central Michigan (5-4). Still, the Bulls are just 4-4 on the season, so I didn’t put Leipold on the trending up list. I think the road to six wins will be difficult and if he doesn’t reach that mark, Buffalo will have just one winning season in five years under Leipold. If he keeps winning though, his stock will certainly go up.
Tulane head coach Willie Fritz
Fritz is a proven program builder that absolutely deserves to be considered, but Tulane lost a second game in a row with a 41-38 defeat to Navy on Saturday. They are now 5-3 on the season. It’s still major progress for that program and while Fritz might not be the sexy pick, Rutgers could do a lot worse than him. He also makes $1.2 million, so they could double his salary and still have plenty leftover to put a great deal of money into the assistant coaching pool.
Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead
After starting the season with a 3-1 record, Mississippi State has now lost four games in a row with the 49-30 defeat to Texas A&M over the weekend. Joe Moorhead built Fordham from one of the worst to one of the best programs in FCS, flourished as offensive coordinator at Penn State, but this season has made MSU fans question whether he is the right coach for them. Still, with Arkansas (2-6), Abilene Christian (5-4), and Ole Miss (3-5) still on the schedule, he has a chance to win six games and go to a second consecutive bowl game at Mississippi State this season.
Army head coach Jeff Monken
The Cadets have now lost four games in a row after falling to San Jose State 34-29 on Saturday. They are just 3-5 on the season. That doesn’t change the fact that Monken is a good coach, but with fans previously hesitant or flat out against the idea of Rutgers switching to his triple option offense, the losing streak makes it even harder for Hobbs to sell him as a great candidate now.
Boston College head coach Steve Addazio
The Boston Globe published a story on Sunday indicating that Rutgers is interested in the Boston College head coach. I always take any national media reports with a grain of salt, because for as much heat as Rutgers fans like to give NJ.com’s Steve Politi, Keith Sargeant and James Kratch, their information that they report is typically spot on. Addazio does make sense for Rutgers to consider, due to his strong presence on the recruiting trail locally, as BC has 17 New Jersey players on the roster. He also would bring an edge to the program that I think is sorely needed. However, he is still the head coach at BC for now and despite still having a chance to go to six bowl games in seven seasons there, he would be fairly perceived as a low ceiling hire. The Eagles are 4-4 now after a 59-7 loss to Clemson this past weekend. If Rutgers hired him, they would be taking a coach Boston College no longer wanted, which wouldn’t exactly make him an inspiring hire.
Sam Houston head coach K.C. Keeler
A few readers have mentioned Keeler in the comment section, as did James Kratch in this article about out of the box candidates to consider. However, Sam Houston State lost to Central Arkansas on Saturday and is just 5-4 on the season. Regardless of his very solid resume over the course of three decades, from an optics perspective, I just can’t see how Rutgers can hire an FCS coach coming off a so so season. Especially when Surace could possibly lead Princeton to a second consecutive undefeated season.
Candidates Not Realistic To Consider
I’ve gotten plenty of emails and mentions on twitter asking about certain candidates listed below, so here are my abbreviated thoughts on each:
Urban Meyer (stop never happening); Bob Stoops (same); Jim Leavitt (not a good fit at Rutgers); Matt Rhule (signed big extension at Baylor); Rod Carey (huge buyout at Temple); Charlie Weis (out of the game for 5 years); Darren Rizzi (former Rutgers assistant but was DI college head coach just one season at URI after spending past decade plus in NFL); Lane Kiffin (I’d be surprised if he was considered due to his wild card reputation); any coordinator without head coaching experience (I think there is a 99.9% chance Rutgers would not hire one this time). For the record, I do think Ohio State co-defensive coordinator and former Rutgers assistant Jeff Hafley SHOULD absolutely be interviewed and considered, but I’m very skeptical that he will.
Until next week on the stock watch. We will have plenty more coaching search coverage throughout this week, which you can follow it all here.