The 2015 college football season starts Thursday. Illinois head coach Tim Beckman did not make it that far. So, before hitting September, we have our first head coaching replacements post of the season.
Illinois has a lot of uncertainty. The scandal that swallowed Beckman may subsume AD Mike Thomas as well. What we can presume about the Illinois job, at this stage, are generalities. It’s sort of a Tweener job. It’s too big to be a stepping stone. It’s not big enough to be a destination. Better jobs will be available. The Tom Hermans or Justin Fuentes of the coaching world probably stand pat and wait for something better.
While Illinois is not a great opportunity, it’s still an opportunity. There will be coaches looking for one. We’re guessing Illinois opts for head coaching experience versus taking a flier on a 30-year-old coordinator du jour.
P.J. Fleck [Western Michigan] P.J. Fleck turned Western Michigan around from one to eight wins in his second season. He’s 35. He’s sexy. He signed a huge, by MAC standards, contract to stay put. A middling B1G job is better than a middling MAC job. As Dennis Dodd points out, Fleck’s kids are living close by in St. Louis. He would get fans back in the stadium. Could he be in line for a better opportunity, such as Iowa?
Craig Bohl [Wyoming] 57 is the new 47. Craig Bohl went 4-8 in FBS with Wyoming last year. But, before that he went on a three-year, 43-2 tear at NDSU that led to three-straight FCS titles. If Bohl gets Wyoming back into the black this season, could he be Illinois’ Jerry Kill?
Greg Schiano [Unemployed] Greg Schiano’s name has been muddied by his NFL tenure. But, in college, his track record is proven. Schiano was able to attract top recruits to Rutgers, in the Big East. He went to six bowl games in seven years and had a Top 15 finish. That and a clean program would be a certain upgrade. A solid hire, albeit not one that would get the blood flowing.
Lane Kiffin [Alabama – OC] Lane Kiffin has baggage. He has question marks. None of that should preclude him from consideration at Illinois. Kiffin can recruit. He can coach offense. That goes a long way in the B1G West. A 25-13 record over three years puts you on the hot seat at USC. A 25-13 record over three years at Illinois gets you plaudits and a contract extension. Older and wiser at 40, he may be worth another chance.
Al Golden [Miami] Tim Beckman was the first hot seat coach off the board. Many college football media members had Al Golden following him. Golden inherited scandal, sanctions and a middle-tier program with major expectations at Miami. A Big Ten job would better suit his complexion and sweat capacity. Raising a team from the basement to the first floor may better suit his skillset.