When Illinois abruptly announced the termination of head football coach Tim Beckman on August 29th, one positive was that AD Mike Thomas was most likely going to get a head start on the coaching market. But with other slots already opening around the country at high-profile schools like USC, Miami, and South Carolina, that benefit has all but disappeared for the Illini. The list of potential candidates continues to grow, but so do the teams in need of a new head coach. As we inch closer to the end of the 2015 season let's continue to take a look at the work potential candidates from around the country have done.
Justin Fuente, No. 15 Memphis (8-0)
Week 9 Result: Win, 41-13 versus Tulane
Another week, another blowout victory for Fuente and company. As more and more prominent jobs from around the country begin to open, the Illini's chances of nabbing a guy like Fuente begin to decrease. That being said, I would be shocked if Mike Thomas didn't make a run at him. The Tigers have been nothing short of amazing in 2015, and have now won 15 straight games dating back to last year. Their biggest test will come in a few weeks against another candidate's team (see below), but unless Memphis suffers a serious late-season collapse they might even be in the College Football Playoff picture.
Tom Herman, No. 18 Houston (8-0)
Week 9 Result: Win, 34-0 versus Vanderbilt
Houston and Memphis seem to be on a collision course for their matchup in two weeks on November 14th. Tom Herman's first season at the helm of the Houston program has also been nothing short of incredible. The Cougars shut out an SEC opponent this past Saturday to move to 8-0 on the year. They held the Commodores to only 185 yards and forced four turnovers while putting up nearly 400 yards of offense themselves in a dominant victory. Herman's team will take on Cincinnati this weekend as they try to stay on pace with Memphis in the AAC.
Dino Babers, Bowling Green (6-2)
Week 9 Result: N/A; team was on a bye
The Falcons had the week off to prepare for a weeknight matchup against the Ohio Bobcats this coming Wednesday on ESPN2.
Bill Cubit, Illinois (4-4)
Week 9 Result: Loss, 39-0 at Penn State
It was a disastrous afternoon for the Illini in Not-So-Happy Valley. The offense never found the end zone and was held to just 167 total yards in the most disappointing outing of the Bill Cubit interim era. Cubit's chances to maintain the head coaching gig in Champaign may be dwindling, especially if Illinois can't pick it up and reach the postseason. It will require winning two of their next four games, which is certainly possible, but not likely if they continue to perform like they did against the Nittany Lions. The orange and blue will travel to take on Purdue next Saturday in the battle for the cannon.
P.J. Fleck, Western Michigan (5-3)
Week 9 Result: Win, 58-28 at Eastern Michigan
Fleck has turned around Western Michigan's 2015 season nicely after an 0-2 start. This past Saturday's blowout over in-state foe Eastern Michigan marked their fourth-consecutive victory and puts them within one win of bowl eligibility. Fleck seems like a stronger potential candidate for the Illinois job assuming the bigger names on this list are hired by schools like USC or Miami. The Broncos will welcome in MAC opponent Ball State to Kalamazoo this Thursday night on CBS Sports Network.
Jeff Brohm, Western Kentucky (7-2)
Week 9 Result: Win, 55-30 at Old Dominion
The Hilltoppers are a quiet 7-2 after another blowout victory, this one coming at the expense of Old Dominion. WKU is averaging 43 points per game (ninth best in the nation) and 522 yards of total offense per game (fifth best in the nation) and have won by an average of almost 30 points in their seven wins this season. Not to be outdone, their defense is the sixth most-improved in the country from 2014 to 2015 statistically speaking. The Hilltoppers will welcome in Florida Atlantic this coming weekend as they try to pick up their eighth win of the year.
Matt Rhule, No. 23 Temple (7-1)
Week 9 Result: Loss, 24-20 versus Notre Dame
In what was touted as the most important game in Temple football history, the Owls fell just short against No. 8 Notre Dame. Irish QB DeShone Kizer threw a 17-yard touchdown to wideout Will Fuller with just two minutes remaining in the game, and the ND defense helped seal the victory with a late interception. Despite the loss, Rhule's team is still ranked in both the AP and Coaches polls. They will travel to take on a 1-7 SMU team this Friday on ESPN2.
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
- Willie Fritz, Head Coach at Georgia Southern
- Bob Shoop, Defensive Coordinator at Penn State
- 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)
- Minnesota (Jerry Kill retired)
- Hawaii (Norm Chow fired)
- UCF (George O'Leary fired)
- Virginia Tech (Frank Beamer retired)
If you're keeping track, that's a solid 4-2 record for the candidates during Week Nine. Think we've left anybody off the list? Drop by in the comments below and tell us what you think!