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Besides the 3 obvious names, who else might be on Missouri's coaching candidates list?

It has been approximately five days since Gary Pinkel announced he would be retiring at the end of the season. With Mack Rhoades planning a press conference for Wednesday afternoon (no, he will not be announcing his potential candidates), let's take stock in where the wind has been blowing.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The Herman connection is obvious

Post-Dispatch: Mizzou would be lucky to land Houston coach

Those familiar with SEC recruiting describe Herman as a relentless acquirer of talent who outworks opponents to sign players who should be out of his reach. His fiery demeanor, Texas ties and national connections formed during his two seasons as Urban Meyer’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Ohio State could alter the talent pool at Mizzou. [...]

Mizzou’s search should start in Houston, and Rhoades should relentlessly pursue his former hire until Herman turns him down.

Post-Dispatch: Houston won't let Herman get away easily
Houston Chronicle: UH takes first step toward sweetening Herman's contract

An item on Thursday's UH Board of Regents agenda seeks approval "to delegate authority to the Chancellor to negotiate and execute an amendment to the contract of the head football coach at the University of Houston." [...]

At the time of his hiring, Herman agreed to a five-year contract worth at least $6.75 million. The deal includes a $1.35 million annual salary, making Herman the highest-paid football coach in school history.

There is a buyout of $2.25 million if Herman leaves the school before Feb. 28, 2018.

As we've already discussed, Herman won't come cheap. First of all, it doesn't appear he's dying to leave Houston. He doesn't have to take a subpar deal just to get out of town. Second, well, a subpar deal is not a concern because the suitors are lining up. South Carolina supposedly wants him. Missouri probably wants him. Everybody else probably wants him. If Texas does something crazy and ditches Charlie Strong or lets him go to Miami, the Longhorns will almost definitely want him. (And he'll probably want them -- his career got its kick start when he was a graduate assistant in Austin.)

Hiring Herman would come with an acknowledgement that he might not stay very long. He has Texas ties, he obviously has Ohio State ties, and he has no Missouri ties. A rental hire can be perfectly fine if the guy is enough of a stud, and while Herman has only spent 10 more games as a head coach than you or I, he wins people over instantaneously. He's organized, he's tactically awesome, he's a spectacular recruiter ... he appears to be a stud. As the Post-Dispatch's Ben Frederickson suggested above, you probably don't hire anybody else until you know for sure that you can't hire him.

What about Fuente?

ESPN Insider: Where will Missouri look for next football coach?

KTGR: Comparing the Mizzou Coaching Candidates

There's not really anything new on Fuente. As ESPN's Travis Haney mentioned, his career path has basically drawn a circle around Columbia, from Tulsa to Illinois State to Fort Worth to Memphis. KTGR's Brandon Kiley called this "the conventional hire," and I don't consider this a bad thing. He's proven he can make good hires, unearth talent, and play good defense (2012-14) and good offense (2014-15).

And as I mentioned on Monday, his offense might be a perfect fit for Drew Lock; Herman, on the other hand, prefers more of a dual-threat. Herman's adaptable enough to make things work regardless, but in Paxton Lynch, we've seen what Fuente can do with a golden-armed QB (who will occasionally run the ball).

But no, nothing particularly new here.

One new name:

I spoke with Calhoun for my book a couple of years ago, and he struck me as a bit of a fussbudget type. But hey, so was Devine.

Calhoun would be ... an interesting hire. He's not a full-fledged triple option guy like Paul Johnson or Ken Niumatalolo -- he mixes in zone blocking and spent time as an NFL assistant. Given a higher level of talent (and actual size on the offensive line), he might be able to get pretty creative and craft an interesting system around Lock. Plus, he has made a couple of solid defensive coordinator hires through the years.

With Tim DeRuyter as D.C. back in the late-'00s, Air Force's 3-4 defense peaked at 25th in Def. S&P+, which is an absolutely remarkable accomplishment with personnel so limited in size. And after bottoming out following DeRuyter's departure (between 111th and 122nd each year from 2011-13), the Falcons' defense has rebounded. They were 60th last year and are currently 53rd this year. Give him this defensive personnel, and he could have some fun.

That said, I'm not taking this name too seriously just yet. He has no background when it comes to recruiting at the power-conference level, and honestly, when you have the Barry Odom trump card to play, I don't think you end up getting too creative with your hire.

What about guys who already have head coaching jobs?

Missouri's got pretty good money, and while we obviously don't know how last week's protests and tension might affect how coaches view this job, the Tigers could in theory woo someone who already has a decent job. Our eyes tend to gravitate toward the mid-majors, but guys move from one power job to another sometimes.

This is total, abject speculation -- I want to make that as clear as possible -- but here's a list of some power-conference coaches who are currently doing pretty well and either a) have known issues with their athletic director and might be open to a change in scenery, or b) could probably make more at Mizzou than at their current employer:

  • Dave Doeren, N.C. State
  • Sonny Dykes, California
  • Larry Fedora, North Carolina
  • Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern
  • Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
  • Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia
  • Mike Leach, Washington State
  • Rich Rodriguez, Arizona
  • Kyle Whittingham, Utah

If some name comes out of the blue, it'll probably be one of these. But none have obvious Mizzou ties. At most, one guy from this list becomes a candidate. The more likely number is zero.


Because this search is happening before the regular season has actually played out, it might be a while until we start to get a true read for realistic names. Fuente's got two more games to go, and Herman might have three, including the AAC title game.

By the way, I still think Barry Odom is the leader in the clubhouse. He checks multiple boxes -- he's an up-and-comer with spectacular upside, he's a proven coordinator, and he's a Mizzou guy whose hire would result in change ... but not too much change. You don't want to simply move a guy up because he has ties to the last guy, but Odom isn't that. He's got as much potential as any coordinator in the business. Mack Rhoades might be able to talk himself into that.