Dick Baddour knows
his job in on the line. As the UNC athletic director, his impending
football hire is the make-or-break decision of his Carolina legacy. Now
with the basketball program on solid footing, the fans’ focus turns on
a struggling football program.
Baddour knows it. Along with consultant Chuck Neinas, who helped ECU
place Terry Holland in its athletic director role, the duo is on the
search for a coach who will unify the faithful while re-instilling an
immediate respect lost since Mack Brown left for Texas.
The $1 million (or more) question remains. Who is the best choice? As
Caulton Tudor wrote in his column released recently in The News &
Observer, the new coach needs to have head coaching experience,
offensive expertise, regional familiarity and stability.
Dick, are you listening? Before you sit in Lee Fowler’s lap amid six
rejections and public embarrassment, try to heed some advice.
Tulsa Head Coach Steve Kragthrope fits the criteria, but declined any
interest in the job Monday. As college football’s hottest choice,
Kragthrope made the right decision to veer away from the Carolina job.
With high profile jobs like Miami (FL) and Michigan St. possibly
opening up, Kragthrope might want to go bigger, but would be smarter to
wait another year. There will be abnormally few coaching vacancies in
the off-season so staying at Tulsa for another season could mean a
bigger job in the future.
Greg Schiano would be silly to leave his perch at Rutgers. An excellent
recruiter, Schiano should stay in the Big East where he can gain more
national recognition in an easier conference. His Rutgers team already
manhandled the Tar Heels so any move would be lateral at best. If his
team continues their success, he will be also be tabbed for a bigger
Navy Head Coach Paul Johnson would be a poor fit. Johnson’s triple
option is one-dimensional and boring. Nebraska was forced to the spread
offense following years under Tom Osbourne and Frank Solich. Why would
UNC revert to last decade’s offense? Johnson’s dry personality probably
wouldn’t mesh well in liberal Chapel Hill.
Baddour needs to focus on either former head coaches or current NFL
assistants with decades of coaching experience.
Tennessee offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe would be a great hire.
The former Ole Miss head man has rejuvenated the stagnant Tennessee
offense, forcing quarterback Erik Ainge’s into Heisman chatter. He was
successful with the Rebels, getting canned after an eight-win season
following Eli Manning’s departure.
Aside from Cutcliffe, there are few solidified candidates. Butch Davis’
name has been rumored, but the former Cleveland Browns coach would
probably be smarter to wait for another job, namely the Miami (FL) job.
Davis has the premier name that UNC covets, but doesn’t quite what the
Tar Heels are looking for.
Top flight college assistants include Florida assistant head coach and
co-defensive coordinator Charlie Strong. As a strong recruiter, Strong
would likely further inroads made by Bunting in the ladder part of his
tenure. Strong doesn’t have the head coaching experience or the
offensive roots, but he did spend three years as South Carolina’s
Norm Chow doesn’t have the head coaching experience, but he makes up
for it with his offensive schemes. As a former N.C. State coordinator,
he understands the region and would bring an instant credibility.
Chow’s 32-year coaching career has provided him with the proper
contacts to hire a first-rate staff. The question is whether he can he
be pulled away from the dollars of the NFL.
Green Bay offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski would be a good fit.
He recruited the area having coached at ECU from 1989-1996. Though his
name lacks starpower punch, he is well respected within the coaching
fraternity. Being 43, he could bring instant energy to the UNC fan
base. He knows offense and would require the Tar Heels to be tougher in
the power running game.
Ravens offensive line and assistant head coach Chris Foerster’s name
has been rumored for numerous college openings, but has yet to be
hired. He has coached in the NFL since 1993, including stints with the
Vikings, Bucs, Colts, Dolphins and Ravens. He is only 45 and has an
Dom Capers, the first Carolina Panthers head coach could fill in the
opening. As a detail freak and workaholic, Capers had decent success in
starting up separate franchises. The Dolphins special assistant to the
head coach is a defensive specialist and could be looking to get back
into college, something he left in 1983. Capers, 56, might find college
easier and less taxing.
Packers defensive coordinator Bob Sanders, Bills defensive coordinator
Perry Fewell, Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster and LSU
offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher would all be good hires.
So Baddour, if you want to keep your job, you might want to hire the
right man. Somebody who will make you look good.