4th and 10: Top 10 Defensive Coordinator Candidates

Sam and I decided to spice things up this week. I will be doing 4th and 10, while he takes the State of the Conference tomorrow. If you haven’t noticed there has been quite the shakeup on the defensive side of the ball in the SEC. Texas A&M and Auburn immediately fired their defensive coordinators after embarrassing performances in their games. South Carolina hasn’t officially fired Lorenzo Ward, but the feeling around Columbia is if a big name guy were available, Ward would definitely get the boot. This is going to be from the Auburn perspective, but I have seen many of these same names mentioned as possibilities at A&M as well as USC so feel free to plug them in there as well. This 4th and 10 is a combination of whom I think will be the next coordinator, and whom I would offer if I were AD. Some are pipe dreams, while others are realistic options. Enjoy.

10. Brady Hoke

The, now, former Michigan head coach is now unemployed and looking for a new job. While Hoke couldn’t consistently win enough in Ann Arbor to keep his job, it wasn’t for lack of defense. This past season the Wolverines ranked 10th in yards per game and 28th in points per game. He’ll get a DC job somewhere, I’m just not sure it’s at Auburn, A&M or Carolina.

9. Pat Narduzzi

Don’t get me wrong; Narduzzi would be a home run hire for any program. He consistently has his Spartan defense in the top 10 in points per game and total defense. This year is no exception. The problem with Narduzzi is that he’s probably not going to make a lateral move, when it’s only a matter of time until a bigtime head coaching opportunity comes calling. He’s already been linked to the vacant Nebraska job. He’d be a fantastic hire but probably not realistic.

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8. Bo Pelini

Pelini is the red-faced, hot head, former coach of the Nebraska Cornhuskers. While he always had good teams at Nebraska, he could never get over that hump to be a great team. A Pelini hire would be based on the assumption that he could churn up the magic from his days as defensive coordinator at LSU and put out a quality defense again. (Not to mention the magic of having the @FauxPelini twitter handle attached with your school). Pelini rubbed people the wrong way in Lincoln and didn’t get along with the administration, so a hire here could be risky.

7. Bud Foster

Foster is Frank Beamer’s right hand man. He’s been with Beamer since 1981 as a graduate assistant at Murray State and followed him everywhere since. Foster has consistently put out solid Hokie defenses since 1999 which has been fine because the Hokie offense and special teams have been stellar. But the past few years have seen average VT teams, which is not fault of Foster who continues to put out quality defenses. Foster will probably be next in line in Blacksburg once Beamer decides to hang it up, but it would be worth a call to see if he wants a change of scenery. Regardless, he’ll get a head coaching chance soon.

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6. Manny Diaz

Diaz is a young creative defensive mind currently at Louisiana Tech. Most people will recognize the Manny Diaz name from his failure at Texas. Diaz was fired mid-season by former Longhorn coach Mack Brown. Part of me thinks that Diaz was made more of a scapegoat than anything, especially considering how things ended for Brown in Austin. Before arriving in Texas, he was considered one of the bright, up-and-coming defensive minds in college football. He’s only 40 so he still has a long career ahead of him. Personally, I would like to wait and see what he does in the coming years. Experience is the limiting factor here.

5. Geoff Collins

Collins is the defensive coordinator at Mississippi State. He is a high energy guy, who likes to show a lot of looks to confuse the defense. The Bulldogs had one of, if not, the best run stopping defense in the SEC this past season. The front seven was outstanding, but the back end was a different story. The secondary was terrible ranking 125 out of 128 teams. Collins is a creative coach and has a bright future, but questions about his pass defense scheme raise some red flags for me.

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4. Bill Clark

The #FreeUAB coach should still be employed. What happened in Birmingham with the shutdown of the football program by the Alabama Board of Trustees is disappointing. Either way, Clark is on the market and is a hot young coach. Anyone that can win at UAB can coach. He has the Blazers bowl eligible for the first time in over a decade. Clark doesn’t have much experience coaching college football, but definitely has a bright future ahead of him. My thinking is he will land another head coaching gig at a mid-major school, but a hire of Clark could be a home run or a complete whiff. High risk/reward here.

3. Brent Venables

Venables is the longtime Oklahoma Sooner defensive coordinator, and current DC at Clemson. Venables has the Tigers playing outstanding defense. Guess who is #1 in total defense? Clemson. They are also top 10 in points per game as well. Personally, I think Venables is one of the better coordinators in the country and is relatively unheralded. A hire here would be outstanding and a coup for anyone that could land him.

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2. Barry Odom

Odom is the shiny new car sitting on the showroom floor. Odom has the Memphis Tigers playing good defense. Yes the Memphis Tigers. Odom comes from Missouri and follows that same philosophy of quick, fast defensive ends who can get after the quarterback, and that’s exactly what they do. Odom mixes and matches lots of blitz packages and coverages to confuse the offense. Think of it like controlled chaos. In 2011, the year before Odom arrived, Memphis was dead last in yards allowed. This season they are top 25 in yards per game and defense (keep in mind that includes games against Ole Miss and UCLA). Odom is a future superstar as a defensive coordinator and would be an outstanding hire.

1. Will Muschamp  

Muschamp’s time in Gainesville didn’t go quite as planned. While the Gators always fielded good defenses, they just never could get it figured out on the offensive side of the ball. Prior to Gainesville, Muschamp had successful stops in Auburn and Austin as defensive coordinator. The fiery coach is known for his over the top passion and hard hitting defenses. He would be a big time splash hire and immediately draw the attention of big time recruits. Rivals #3 overall player, DE Bryon Cowart has already said he will take a second look at Auburn if Muschamp is hired. He is the big name guy and no doubt home run for any program that hires him. The only hurdle to hiring Muschamp will be hiring a Brinks truck to back up to his front door to unload all of the money his salary will demand. Other than that, the search for a new defensive coordinator starts right here.

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