The longest week in recent memory for Rutgers football is now complete and the reality is the coaching search to find the program’s next head coach is going to take a long time. I thought it would fun to look at potential candidates who have been mentioned in various capacities this past week 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 we will attempt to do a weekly stock watch for candidates. To be clear, this isn’t based on anything else other than how their current teams are performing, hence affecting their stock as coaches within college football. Whether Rutgers is actively pursuing them or not remains to be seen. Let’s kick it off here.
Toledo head coach Jason Candle
The Rockets beat Western Michigan 31-24 on Saturday to move to 4-1 on the season. They own wins this season against Colorado State and BYU as well, with the lone loss a two touchdown defeat at Kentucky. Candle is a young offensive mind who took over this program from Matt Campbell, who has been successful at Iowa State since leaving after the 2015 season. Candle has gone 32-14 at Toledo and had an 11 win season in 2017. The biggest question mark on his candidacy is his ability to recruit in the northeast, as he is an Ohio native with no local ties.
Princeton head coach Bob Surace
Before you start screaming that an FCS coach shouldn’t be considered, understand that Surace is a unique candidate that I believe is worthy of inclusion. After beating Columbia this past weekend, Princeton is 3-0 this season and on a 13 game winning streak after a perfect 10-0 campaign in 2018. His offensive expertise, playing and NFL coaching experience with the offensive line, as well as his ability to recruit the quarterback position at a very high level even for FCS makes him an intriguing candidate. He would certainly need to build a strong staff, but whoever is hired will need to and at least Surace already has local connections developed. Watch this video of Surace giving a TEDx talk, which for me shows he would be an ideal fit to market the program, build a strong winning culture, and ultimately move Rutgers football in the right direction.
Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead
Mississippi State had a bye week and are 3-2 on the season. They were blown out in their last game to Auburn and the shine in Starksville has already worn off in just his second season, despite winning 8 games last year. Still, we don’t even know if Moorhead would be interested in the Rutgers job. However, he is thought to be high on the list of options for Rutgers and will continue to track his team’s progress this season.
Army head coach Jeff Monken
Army lost to Tulane 42-33 on Saturday, but they are one of the most improved teams in the country this season under fourth year head coach Willie Fritz, who we mentioned as someone to consider here, so I’m keeping Monken even this week. The Cadets only other loss this season was an overtime defeat at Michigan. They are 3-2 on the season and while Monken is a polarizing figure for this job search due to his use of the triple option, my question is this: Why can’t he adapt his offense to more of a RPO style which is trending up in college football and would actually help modernize Rutgers football? Perhaps Monken wouldn’t want to do that, but I think completely ruling out his ability to adapt his offense is short sighted. Rutgers desperately needs discipline and strategic thinking, making Monken a legitimate candidate in my mind.
Not employed but the unquestioned leader of internet rumors. He was on campus last week, or he wasn’t. He was moving to New Jersey to be close to his son who is in high school, even though he plays college football in Massachusetts. He was contacted by Rutgers, he wasn’t contacted by Rutgers. He has demands, no he has changed. No matter what happens, he will blow the minds of a collective fan base. Don’t believe anything until it’s actually reported by local beat reporters. Also we profiles the pros and cons of his candidacy here.
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.
Buffalo head coach Lance Leipold
Buffalo lost to Ohio 21-20 in OT and dropped to 2-4 on the season. He is a solid coach and led them to a 10 win regular season last year, but the Bulls are trending towards four losing seasons in five years under Leipold. While his name has been tied to the Rutgers job and even rumored to be the favorite by some, I just don’t think it’s the right move. I think it’s fair to question his ability to recruit at a Big Ten level and for a program that desperately needs a head coach that can inspire a fan base, I respectfully think Rutgers needs to aim higher.