Last week, we began looking at potential head coaches from a list I came up with a couple of weeks ago. Today, we’ll continue that rundown.
I’ve divided it almost equally into three categories: Part 1) Coaches who are sitting coordinators, mostly at P5 schools; Part 2) Coaches who are head coaches, at mostly G5 schools; Part 3) “Veteran Options” who are active or former head coaches over the age of 50.
Let’s take a look at Part 2, once again in alphabetical order.
Major Applewhite, 40, HC, Houston
Big 12 fans will recognize Applewhite from his days quarterbacking the Texas Longhorns from 1998-01, where coaches routinely tried to play Chris Simms over Applewhite for some crazy reason. Applewhite has been an offensive coordinator since 2006, handling offenses at Rice, Alabama, and Texas before moving to Houston in 2015. He was named the head coach at Houston prior to the 2017 season following the departure of Tom Herman. The Cougars went 7-5 in Applewhite’s first season in 2017.
The contract is where this would get tricky. Applewhite is entering his second year of a five-year, $7.5M deal. If Applewhite were to leave before the contract expires, he would owe Houston the full amount left on his deal PLUS the buyout costs for any assistant coaches not retiained by the next coach. For example, if Applewhite came to KU after this season, he would owe Houston $4.5M, plus any assistant buyouts.
Neal Brown, 38, HC, Troy
Brown has been the head man at Troy since 2015, leading the Trojans to back-to-back 10+ win seasons and bowl wins over the past two years. Notably, Troy won at LSU in 2017 and lost by just 6 at Clemson during the Tigers’ national championship run in 2016.
Brown’s previous experience includes coordinating offenses at Troy, Texas Tech, and Kentucky.
He currently makes $800k with potenial bonuses up to $490k. However, he has a buyout of just over $2.8M if he leaves before his current contract expires in March of 2020.
Jason Candle, 38, HC, Toledo
Candle is set to begin his third season as the head coach at Toledo, going 21-7 in his first two years after taking over for Matt Campbell (who left for Iowa State). Candle has been an assistant coach at Toledo since 2009, is an Ohio native, and played his college ball at Mount Union (OH).
He just signed a six-year contract that pays him just over $1M per year, with a buyout of just under $2M.
Chris Creighton, 49, HC, Eastern Michigan
The job Chris Creighton has done at EMU has been nothing short of miraculous. After winning just 3 games in his first two years, the Eagles have won 12 games in the last two seasons, qualifying for a bowl game in 2016. If you’re familiar at all with EMU football history, you’ll know that this is quite a feat.
2017 was disappointing in terms of W-L (5-7), but the Eagles won at Rutgers, lost three overtime games, and lost three other games by a combined 10 points, including a four-point setback at Kentucky.
A longtime coach at lower-division colleges, Creighton has done nothing but win everywhere he’s gone: Ottawa (KS) 32-9, Wabash (IN) 63-15, and Drake (IA) 42-22.
One of the more affordable candidates on my list, Creighton signed a five-year extension in 2017 that pays him $450k per year. He has a decreasing buyout that would be $500k for 2018.
Lane Kiffin, 43, HC, Florida Atlantic
Yahoo Sports recently polled 15 athletic directors as to whether or not they would consider hiring Lane Kiffin. They got two “Yes” votes, two “Maybe” votes, and 11 “No” votes.
Obviously, Kiffin would be one of the more interesting potential hires. He’s already been the head coach at USC, Tennessee, and in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders. He’s currently bringing FAU all sorts of attention, most of it positive after going 11-3 in his first season last year.
Kiffin just signed a 10-year extension in June of 2018 that pays him $950k per year. The buyout is $2.5M that decreases by 500k for each year he remains with the program.
Seth Littrell, 40, HC, North Texas
Littrell played his college ball as a RB at Oklahoma. His first coaching gig was a graduate assistant at KU under Mark Mangino from 2002-04. He was an offensive coordinator at Arizona, Indiana, and North Carolina before becoming the head coach at North Texas in 2016. In two seasons, he has a 14-13 record, but has been to two bowl games. Prior to his arrival, UNT went 1-11.
Littrell just signed a five-year extension in March of 2018 that pays him $900k per year with incentives that could push it over $1M, but has a buyout of $3.3M per the USA Today coaching salary database.
Mike Norvell, 36, HC, Memphis
Norvell is the career record-holder for receptions at Central Arkansas. Following his playing days, he was an assistant at Tulsa before going on to coordinate offenses at Pittsburgh and Arizona State. He has been at Memphis since 2016, where he has an 18-8 record.
Norvell is the highest-paid G5 coach after signing a five-year extension in December of 2017 that pays him $2.6M per year. His buyout is over $4.3M, likely making him one of the least attainable candidates on our list.
Scott Satterfield, 45, HC, Appalachian State
A North Carolina native, Satterfield has spent all but three years of his football career at Appalachian State, even playing there as a quarterback from 1991-95. He was the QB coach and primary play-caller from 2004-09, including in 2007 when App State went up to Michigan to upset the #5 Wolverines. After a year at Toledo and two years coordinating the offense at FIU, Satterfield returned to App State in 2012 as the offensive coordinator, and took over head coaching duties in 2013 when long-time App State head coach Jerry Moore “retired” (per the AD, anyway).
Satterfield has a 41-22 overall record at App State which includes just one losing season, three 9-win seasons, and a perfect 3-0 bowl record.
He is on year two of a five-year deal that pays him $675k annually with a buyout just over $1.7M if he leaves in 2018.
Frank Wilson, 44, HC, UTSA
By all accounts one of the best recruiters in college football, Wilson was the assistant head coach at LSU from 2010-2015 under Les Miles prior to taking over UTSA in 2016. He has been named Recruiter of the Year three times by three separate publications, all while at LSU: 2011 (Rivals), 2014 (NFL.com), and 2015 (Scout.com).
Wilson is 12-12 at the fledgling D1 program, both six-win seasons, with a loss in the New Mexico Bowl in 2016. However, UTSA still had the #1 recruiting class in C-USA in 2017.
As of August of 2017, Wilson was the highest paid coach in C-USA at $900k with incentives that can push it up over $1M. If he leaves before Feb 28, 2018, he will owe UTSA a $1.2M buyout.