It's no secret that Illinois is already beginning to look for a new head coach following the abrupt firing of Tim Beckman one week before the beginning of the 2015 season. The list of potential candidates seems to be growing by the week as more and more head coaches at lower-level programs start to make a name for themselves. Let's continue to look at the work their teams have done through the seventh week of play.
Justin Fuente, No. 16 Memphis (7-0)
Week 8 Result: Win, 66-42 at Tulsa
Things are just getting ridiculous for Fuente at Memphis. Going into the year, he was a nice under-the-radar name for the Illinois head coaching vacancy. Now he may be too high-profile a coach for Mike Thomas and the Illini to reel in. His team remained perfect by absolutely demolishing Tulsa and posting 704 yards of total offense this past Saturday. The biggest test of the 2015 season has yet to arrive, however. Three weeks from now the Tigers will play another team on this list, Houston, who is also undefeated.
Tom Herman, No. 18 Houston (7-0)
Week 8 Result: Win, 59-10 at UCF
Speaking of the Cougars, their win from the past weekend was perhaps even more dominant. A 49-point victory, Herman's team not only put up the offensive numbers we've come to expect from them, but also held their opponent to only ten points. RB Kenneth Farrow ran for nearly 200 yards and three touchdowns. Houston will welcome in SEC foe Vanderbilt this Halloween to try and move to 8-0 before a big date with Memphis awaits them.
Dino Babers, Bowling Green (6-2)
Week 8 Result: Win, 48-0 at Kent State
I think Babers might be the most realistic current option on this list. Fuente is quite possibly over Mike Thomas's head, and Tom Herman is still in his first season at Houston. Babers on the other hand has been a candidate for the Illinois for quite some time now, and while his team hasn't been as good as 7-0 Memphis, they gained bowl eligibility with another solid conference victory. Kent State is not a good program, but a 48-0 win is a 48-0 win. The Falcons will take on the Ohio Bobcats next Wednesday for some weeknight MAC-tion on ESPN2.
Bill Cubit, Illinois (4-3)
Week 8 Result: Loss, 24-13 versus Wisconsin
It was a frustrating loss for Cubit and company this past homecoming Saturday against Wisconsin. The opportunities were there, but a depleted Illini offense just couldn't take advantage and the Bart Houston-led Badgers rolled out of Champaign with an eleven-point victory. This is where most Illinois fans thought the team would be at this point in the season (4-3, 1-2 in the Big Ten), but if the orange and blue have any chance of making a bowl game they'll need to learn how to win on the road. That starts this week against bowl-eligible Penn State in Happy Valley.
P.J. Fleck, Western Michigan (4-3)
Week 8 Result: Win, 35-13 versus Miami (OH)
Fleck certainly remains an option for Illinois, but his team hasn't been a dominant force so far in 2015. They currently sit at 4-3 after a solid victory against Miami of Ohio this past Saturday. QB Zach Terrell threw for nearly 300 yards and three touchdowns to bolster the Broncos' offensive attack. The team will try to move into second place in the MAC West when they travel to take on in-state rival Eastern Michigan this coming weekend.
Jeff Brohm, Western Kentucky (6-2)
Week 8 Result: Loss, 48-20 at LSU
Brohm's team had rattled off four straight victories before No. 4 LSU stopped them dead in their tracks. After averaging over 50 points per game the Tigers held Western Kentucky to only 20, but the Hilltoppers still put together just over 400 yards of total offense and had three more first downs than LSU did. Both of WKU's losses have come on the road to power-five conference teams. They'll travel to play Old Dominion next Saturday.
Matt Rhule, No. 21 Temple (7-0)
Week 8 Result: Win, 24-14 at East Carolina
Temple fans are calling this week the biggest week in Owl football history. And they might not be lying. After a ten-point road victory against East Carolina, Rhule has his team sitting at 7-0 and ranked 21st in the nation. That's something that hasn't been done at Temple since 1979. They'll welcome in No. 9 Notre Dame this Saturday, and the ESPN College GameDay crew will be there to take in the action as well. Get ready, Owls fans.
There are always other names circulating around the college football coaching carousel. Here are some potential candidates that have been mentioned here in the TCR comments and elsewhere.
- Rod Carey, Head Coach at Northern Illinois
- Matt Campbell, Head Coach at Toledo
- Brock Spack, Head Coach at Illinois State
- Matt Wells, Head Coach at Utah State
- DJ Durkin, Defensive Coordinator at Michigan
- Doc Holliday, Head Coach at Marshall
- Ed Warinner, Offensive Coordinator at Ohio State
- Lane Kiffin, Offensive Coordinator at Alabama
Other Jobs Available
- South Carolina (Steve Spurrier retired)
- USC (Steve Sarkisian fired)
- Maryland (Randy Edsall fired)
- North Texas (Dan McCarney fired)
- Miami (Al Golden fired)
If you're keeping track, that's a solid 5-2 record for the candidates during Week Eight. Think we've left anybody off the list? Drop by in the comments below and tell us what you think!