Ok, so now that we have officially determined that Ralph Friedgen's seat is probably pretty hot, thanks to Maryland now staring down a 3-8 season (and thinking it's not bad), I got to thinking about who would be a solid replacement if a change were to be made this offseason. I'm not advocating one to be made - it's way too early to make that call - but simply thinking about it if it were to happen. Then I realized James Franklin is already the Head Coach in Waiting, meaning the job is basically his. But I didn't want to be stopped by that, because conjecture is fun.
So, hypothetically, let's pretend that Debbie Yow becomes the next president of the NCAA, replacing Myles Brand. Let's also assume that Friedgen retires and that the rise of a new AD voids the Franklin contract. Voila, we start anew!
Regardless of how it happens, let's posit that Maryland has a vacancy at the HC position after this year and no one locked in. I'm not asking you if you think Fridge should be fired - I'm saying he was. Who would be on your shortlist of candidates? Money is obviously a factor to some extent (no Pete Carroll, unfortunately) but it's not the deciding factors. The first guys that came to my mind (and their current positions):
- Mike London, Richmond HC - London used to be Virginia's defensive coordinator, and might want to be Virginia's HC after Al Groh is finally fired (I think). But he'd be a good fit for Maryland, too: he's a great recruiter with local ties, college coaching experiencing, and he won a title at Richmond in his first year. He will be a hot commodity.
- Turner Gill, Buffalo HC - The thing that really speaks volumes about Turner Gill is that he went to Buffalo and made them a contender in the MAC. Buffalo. The guy knows how to coach and is a solid recruiter. The only negative is that he doesn't have any local ties, which could make recruiting more difficult. And honestly, he could probably get a better job than Maryland.
- James Franklin, Maryland OC - Yeah, yeah, I know. I just spent a couple of paragraphs getting him out of the job. But regardless of his strange playcalling at the offensive coordinator position, I do get the feeling that he wouldn't be a bad HC for the program, provided he made smart, local hires at the OC and DC coaching positions. Plus, he's local and the players know him.
- Brian Billick, ESPN Analyst - Laugh away, Ravens fans. You can't tell me Billick wouldn't dominate as a college coach, especially in recruiting - walk into a recruits' house, flash the Super Bowl ring, talk about when you coached Ed Reed and Ray Lewis. Javarie Johnson and T.J. Clemmings would be signing up to play for him. As for actual coaching, well, it's easier in college than the pros. Unfortunately, this probably isn't realistic.
- A Former College Coach - A couple of names come to mind - guys like Greg Robinson, Tommy Tuberville, and Terry Bowden. I'm not condoning them (though I wouldn't mind Tuberville or Bowden), simply saying these type of guys could be targets.
- A Smaller Coordinator - I can't really predict these guys, but a less high-profile coordinator is a possibility, if not probability. Everyone listed above except Franklin could demand a lot of money. I wouldn't be surprised to see them look a different, less expensive way. That may not be a bad thing, but we wouldn't know quite as much about them as, say, Jon Tenuta or Bud Foster, neither of whom would be possibilities.
So, any suggestions?
(N.B.: Like I said earlier, I'm not calling for Ralph's head or saying this is who I'd want after he got fired. We saw how that question worked for Prisbell; I just want to see who people would hire if they had the choice).