Do names like Charlie Strong, James Franklin, Willie Taggart, Gary Andersen and Mike McIntyre sound good as the next Cal head coach?
So Matt Hayes of the Sporting News wrote a list of five coaching candidates that he believes Cal will pursue if Jeff Tedford doesn't return. For the sake of discussion, I'm going to pretend he knows what he's talking about and isn't just meeting deadline. Some of these names he throws his support behind sound as intriguing as gooseberry smoothies, while some just sound like names that Hayes drew from a hat of "HOT COACHING HIRES".
Let's look at his five candidates.
Charlie Strong, Louisville: Interviewed for the job 11 years ago when Tedford was hired and was the school’s second choice. Strong has spoken over the years about his desire to land the Cal job during that search, and how disappointed he was that it didn’t happen. He’ll have his choice of jobs this offseason, including a few in the SEC.
Strong sounds like the ideal candidate. He finally got his shot at coaching at Louisville, and he's led the Cardinals to bowl games two straight seasons, and will probably get to the Orange Bowl if his team can beat Rutgers.
The big issue? He's an SEC guy, and he might have big-time suitors with vacancies opening up in the conference. Additionally, Louisville has made it clear they will pay TOP DOLLAR to keep him there, which means a bidding war, which means Cal might have to shrink away unless Strong really wants the Cal job again.
Cal doesn't have THAT much money to toss around, and Strong figures to be worth a lot. Don't see it happening.
James Franklin, Vanderbilt: Has proven he can win at a school with high academic standards, while dealing with a history of poor performance on and off (recruiting) the field. Dynamic personality who has changed the culture at the SEC’s perennial loser.
Franklin has done wonders at Vanderbilt, getting the Commodores to two straight bowl games. Franklin is familiar with implementing the West Coast Offense that Cal has generally run (and which probably best fits our personnel). Franklin is young (40 years old), he's succeeding in an academic instituion.
The issue might again be salary. I have no idea how much Franklin is making since he works at a private school, but I imagine if the market heats up there will be more than enough money to ensure Franklin sticks around. The counter is that there's a ceiling to how much Franklin can accomplish in Vanderbilt, but hey, if you're getting paid, it might be tough.
Willie Taggart, Western Kentucky: A former Stanford assistant who knows the Northern California recruiting trails, and knows what it takes to win (and build a fan base) on the West Coast from his time with Jim Harbaugh. Much like Strong, he, too, will have other offers—probably in the SEC.
I'm not sure if Hayes knows what he's talking about with Taggart, who is probably the most overrated candidate on this list. Furd nationally recruits and doesn't really have the NorCal pipeline that the Bears enjoy. Taggart was generally responsible for the South. Also, Taggart was there for the LEAN years of Harbaugh (when Furd had one winning season).
Additionally, Taggart is a Western Kentucky guy (played quarterback there, coached there for a decade). He's had his moments, but I VERY much doubt our AD will take a pretty big risk and hire a coach who's gone 12-10 in the Sun Beast.
Gary Andersen, Utah State: Kyle Whittingham’s top assistant at Utah before leaving for Utah State and rebuilding a struggling program. He’s a defense-first guy (No. 6 nationally in scoring defense), but also understands the value of a spread offense (Aggies averaging 32 points a game).
A decent coach who will definitely get an interview. Andersen has Utah State poised to win the WAC if they can beat Louisiana Tech this weekend, and they could have potentially been a BCS buster if they'd made a few more plays against Wisconsin and BYU. What's most attractive is how powerful his offenses can be.
The big issue: Can he succeed in a major conference? The WAC is pretty pitiful this season. Also, he's spent much of his coaching career in Utah, making you wonder if he can translate that success to the California pipeline.
Mike McIntyre, San Jose State: Has done the unthinkable at San Jose State, which probably should have given up FBS football a few years ago. The Spartans are relevant again, and McIntyre has quickly assimilated to West Coast recruiting.
He's a local success story after turning San Jose State into a WAC contender, and he played Furd closer to the vest than we did. After a pretty terrible start, MacIntyre has SJSU standing at 8-2 this year. He's known best for his defense, where he won assistant coach of the year honors for his work as Duke's DC.
MacIntyre has many of the same questions as Andersen. Can he succeed in a major conference? Also, how much of his success has to do with JuCo transfer David Fales landing into his lap?
Basically, I hope our candidate list is longer. I doubt we have a chance at the best guys on this list unless they're really interested in the job, and I'm really uncertain about the ones who would be interested.
It feels like this coaching search is going to be wild.