A good coach can take a program left for dead and turn it into a winner in college sports with the right support much easier than they can in the pros, and everyone is always looking for the next big thing to help turn their program around.
Whether through coaching, recruiting, or simply instilling the confidence in each player necessary to ratchet up a team’s confidence, a good coach can make a huge difference for an NCAA football team.
With that in mind, here are some of the top college assistants who will be on the wish lists of several programs in the near future to become head coaches. Make no mistake about it, hese guys are definitely worth keeping an eye on in the future.
Tyrone Nix, Defensive Coordinator, South Carolina-
For years, Southern Miss. was one of the country’s top mid-major programs, and almost all of their success was due to the fact that they had one of the fastest, most aggressive, toughest defenses in the country.
Nix was the guy who put many of those defenses together in his ten years with the Golden Eagles. He coached every defensive position on the team over his time there and now is doing a great job of putting together a similar defense with the Gamecocks. They averaged 4.5 points less against per game last year despite only bringing back one starter, and were 29th nationally in defense overall.
Nix deserves a shot at a head coaching job soon if his Gamecocks continue to improve on defense under his tutelage.
With the lack of African-American head coaches in the NCAA, it would be a great story if he were to get a shot and follow through on his promise as a coach.
Bo Pelini, Defensive Coordinator, LSU-
In his role with LSU since 2005, Pelini is an energetic young coach by the current standards (40 years old) who has helped turn the Tigers’ defense into a fearsome unit as well as an NFL factory for draft picks.
He also has experience with three NFL teams and knows the ins-and-outs of all aspects of defense having coached multiple positions, and would be a great fit for a defensive-challenged college team in the future as head coach.
Dan Mullen, Offensive Coordinator, Florida-
First, he developed Alex Smith into the number one pick in the NFL Draft. Then, he took over as offensive coordinator in the Fiesta Bowl against Pitt. and helped the Utes run circles around the Panthers.
Then in 2005, he joined Urban Meyer at Florida and helped turn the Gators into a national title-winner and a potent offense.
Florida and Utah’s gimmicky-but-effective offense should be very attractive to teams across the country and Mullen knows it as well as anyone. That’s why teams in search of a change on offense and the culture of their programs will be lining up for Mullen after the 2007 season to hopefully re-create the Utes’ and Gators’ success.
Ron English, Defensive Coordinator, Michigan-
In his first year at his current post with the Wolverines, English turned Michigan’s defense into one of the hardest-hitting, most physical, aggressive units in the country. His defense crumbled at the end against Ohio State and USC, however, so he will need another year to prove himself.
But English is a fiery leader and a bright guy who is an excellent recruiter with ties to California, and he has a great chance to land a head job with another good season on a depleted Michigan defense. If he keeps the success rolling, he might even have a chance to take over for Lloyd Carr when he retires as UM Head Coach.
Mark Stoops, Defensive Coordinator, Arizona-
The Wildcats ranked 35th in total defense scoring-wise last year despite playing in the high-powered Pac-10 and getting virtually no help from their offense, which only scored 16.6 points per game.
The rebuilding process at Arizona is taking longer than expected but most of that is the offense’s fault. The Wildcat defense has certainly held up its end of the bargain and the last name Stoops is well-known around NCAA circles and sure to get Mark Stoops some interviews with continued success for Arizona on defense.