James Franklin accepted the Penn State job, (expected to complete deal Saturday) moving the great game of college football musical chairs to Nashville. Vanderbilt does not have the tradition of some programs. But it does have a cupboard stocked with James Franklin recruits and the SEC TV revenue to offer a plum contract. As many will note, Vanderbilt AD David Williams’ two finalists during his last coaching search were Franklin and Gus Malzahn. Here are 10 candidates.
Chad Morris: Gus Malzahn is no longer available. Morris, the architect of Clemson’s recent offensive explosion with a similar high school background, may be the next best thing. He has not been enticed to leave Clemson yet, thanks to a six-year $7.8m contract. But an SEC position (and paycheck) may be too tough for Morris to spurn.
Greg Roman: Still Jim Harbaugh’s offensive coordinator, after following him to the 49ers from Stanford. Roman’s name has been flitting about for a few years. He has been a frequent interviewee, including for the Penn State job just offered to Franklin. He will be a head coach, at either level.
Bob Shoop: Defense has been the cornerstone of Vanderbilt’s recent success. The Commodores have ranked in the Top 25 in yards/play allowed under Shoop the past three seasons (twice in the Top 15). Continuity is not the worst thing in college football.
Derek Mason: Another from the Harbaugh tree. Mason has coordinated Stanford’s defense since 2011. The last two units have ranked in the Top 15 in yards/play, making him one of those “hot names” in the assistant pool.
David Cutcliffe: Cutcliffe is a career SEC man. Winning 10 games, he has surely scraped the ceiling at Duke. No one is getting rich from college athletics, to be sure, but Vanderbilt could enhance the $2m per year he’s currently on with the Blue Devils. The downside is…Archie has no more sons.
Pat Narduzzi: Narduzzi may be the nation’s best defensive coordinator. MSU has ranked in the Top 5 in yards/play allowed the past three seasons. He has been loyal to Michigan State. He turned down the Connecticut job. But, he reportedly interviewed with Louisville and Vanderbilt may be another job he’d consider leaving for.
Herb Hand: Another potential internal hire. Hand is well-regarded as an offensive line coach, and a fun guy to be around. He has a lot of experience under some successful coaches: Franklin, Malzahn, Graham and Rodriguez. Hand was a candidate for a head coaching job this offseason, though it was at Elon.
Mark Hudspeth: He had five double-digit win seasons in six years at North Alabama. Hudspeth is coming off three-straight nine-win years (and bowl wins) with the Ragin Cajuns. Most importantly, he can out bench anyone on this list.
Mike MacIntyre: He’s just getting the foundation laid at Colorado, after going from 1 to 10 wins in three seasons at San Jose State. Vandy would pay more, and offer a more immediate chance to succeed. Though leaving Colorado after a year would be a dick move. Hudspeth began his playing career at Vandy. His father was also a former Commodore head coach.
Mack Brown: This seems improbable, but Brown’s name will be thrown around. He’s from Tennessee. Like McIntyre. He has personal and family connections. He began his college career at Vandy. His older brother Watson was both quarterback and head coach there. We would predict he’ll be comin, to your citay before taking (or being offered) this job though.
Bobby Petrino: Too soon?
[Photos via Getty, USA Today Sports]