As we dive into predicting the success and failures for College Football in the 2022 season. Let's take a look at the potential top candidates for coaching positions as the season wraps up.
Top Program Coaching Options
Lane Kiffin (Ole Miss)
Lane Kiffin tops this list because he is at a program that is not considered in college football circles as a powerhouse program. While starting his third season for Ole Miss, Kiffin showed he has what it takes to be a top coach in the SEC. After a 10 win season and losing a bowl game because he lost his starting quarterback in the game, Kiffin has a goal in mind and that is to take Ole Miss to the top and make sure to embarrass the SEC royalty along the way. This offseason Kiffin has done a phenomenal job of doing what Kiffin does and that is recruit. He brings in one of the top transfer classes and also has a top 15 recruiting class, according to 247 Sports. Lane Kiffin will only be entertaining the top programs, so if positions open up for Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon and Texas; you could see him being heavily considered.
Ole Miss HC record 15-8
Florida Atlantic HC record 26-13
USC HC record 28-15
Tennessee HC record 7-6
Oakland Raiders HC record 5-15
Bill O'Brien (Alabama, offensive coordinator)
Bill O'Brien has the most high level experience of any of the candidates on this list. O'Brien has been at Alabama as an advisor and now offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach after a long tenure in the NFL with the Houston Texans. Before joining the Texans O'Brien was tasked with correcting the mess at Penn State in the post Joe Paterno era. O'Brien showed he has a stripe of power desire and after a few seasons in Tuscaloosa under Nick Saban he may be chomping at the bit for another head coaching position. The call may be going back to the NFL, but were he to stay in the collegiate ranks expect him to be taking over one of the top programs in the market for a head coach.
Houston Texans HC record 52-48
Penn State HC record 15-9
Josh Gattis (Miami FL, offensive coordinator)
Josh Gattis was the favorite to land the Michigan job were Jim Harbaugh to accept a head coaching gig in the the NFL this offseason. With that rollercoaster of expectations, Gattis left Michigan and went to join new Canes head coach Mario Cristobal. Previously Gattis has been on the Alabama offensive staff, and worked under James Franklin at Penn State and Vanderbilt. If Gattis can duplicate his offensive success in Miami this season, his name will be in the conversations for head coaching jobs at the top programs. Obviously if Harbaugh would leave for the NFL Gattis would be target number one for them.
Top Conference Targets
Justin Wilcox (California)
Justin Wilcox is a name that has been floated around as a potential hire for a few seasons. Wilcox has been the head coach at Cal for the past five seasons and will embark on his sixth season in 2022. This past offseason Wilcox's name came up for top Pac-12 teams Oregon and Washington, before they decided to go different directions. With the conference realignments, there may be a new job for Wilcox soon since he has experience in California's recruiting game and a B1G school may show interest in that with their newly introduced schools USC and UCLA joining in the coming seasons. If Wilcox gets the call this season look for him to land in the B1G or Big XII conferences.
California HC record 26-28
Jamey Chadwell (Coastal Carolina)
Jamey Chadwell has had magnificent success while at the helm of Coastal Carolina. His name has been bounced around the past few seasons with higher level programs in the East and Southeast region of the country. With Chadwell's proven success of being able to do more with less, and starting it from scratch in Myrtle Beach, will be tantalizing for an ACC or SEC school looking to find the coach to put them back on the map.
Coastal Carolina HC record 30-19
Lower Divisions HC record 60-35
Tyson Helton (Western Kentucky)
Tyson Helton is an interesting candidate, the younger brother of former USC coach and current Georgia Southern coach Clay Helton. He is in his fourth season at Western Kentucky and has had good overall success while in Bowling Green, KY. His name doesn't have as much pop behind it but should be in the running for some of the lower level schools in the current Power Five conferences.
Western Kentucky HC record 23-16
Blake Anderson (Utah State)
Blake Anderson landed at Utah State after leaving Arkansas State, now the pattern with Utah State has been a spring board to a top level coaching job. There is no doubt that Anderson will be any different. After one season he got the Aggies to the top of the Mountain West Conference and was getting mentioned in head coaching conversations throughout the Pac-12. With Anderson having coaching experience across the country it is impossible to guess where he could land when the right program calls. With him being at Utah State currently and previously at Arkansas State my guess would be a landing spot in the Big XII, maybe with Arizona State would they move on from Herm Edwards this season.
Utah State HC record 11-3
Arkansas State HC record 51-37
Mike Houston (East Carolina)
Mike Houston is primed for an upgrade in scenery after getting the Pirates to a bowl last season. At age 50 now Houston is primed for a top conference job and he is hoping growth on last season's success will push his name to the top of coaching candidate lists this offseason. His name had been floating around ACC programs last season, so do not be surprised to see the same region to come calling this season.
East Carolina HC record 14-19
James Madison HC record 37-6
The Citadel HC record 14-11
Lower Level HC record 29-8
Rhett Lashlee (SMU)
Rhett Lashlee will be one of the top names around the coaching carousel can he come in and have the offensive success he has shown over his previous stops. Lashlee started his coaching career by following Gus Malzahn around as his offensive coordinator while at Arkansas State and Auburn. He then held the same positions at UConn, SMU and Miami before rejoining SMU this offseason as the head coach. With some noise around Auburn's coaching staff, this could be a good fit should Lashlee be successful this season. Do not look past this being his first season as a head coach, his experience with Malzahn will be highly coveted as coaches roll.
Bill Clark (UAB, former head coach)
With the sudden retirement from UAB this offseason, his coaching career may be over. But were Bill Clark to get back into the game, he would be considered for positions at a higher level than the Blazers have been at. To be clear and frank about it, Clark has done an amazing job at UAB. Taking over the program in 2014 to have it shut down the next season for two years then come back and have the team go 8-5 was a feat in and of itself. But he went on to have UAB in bowl games every season after coming back. Clark is familiar with the South, but I would believe he would excel in any environment would he return to the sidelines.
UAB HC record 49-26
Jacksonville State HC record 11-4
Joe Moorhead (Akron)
Joe Moorhead is an interesting name going into the 2022 season. After a successful run in the FCS ranks with Fordham, he then moved up to become the offensive coordinator for Penn State where he received the label to "No. 1 Rising Assistant in College Football" according to Sports Illustrated and Yahoo. He was hired as Mississippi State's head coach for the 2018 season, where he took the team 14-12 in two seasons before being fired. Before joining the Zips he had a successful couple of season with the Oregon Ducks as their offensive coordinator. Moorhead knows what it takes to lead a program in the toughest league, with some success at Akron you could see him move into the power conference coaching ranks very quickly.
Mississippi State HC record 14-12
Fordham HC record 38-13
Jay Norvell (Colorado State)
Jay Norvell is the new coach at Colorado State, and given his experience and the track record of coaches at Colorado State do not expect him to be sitting long. Starting his coaching career back in 1988, Norvell has coaching experience on the college and professional levels. Norvell was the 2020-21 College Coach of the Year by the National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches. This offseason his name was being thrown around the Pac-12 and Big XII for coaching positions. So assuming he has the same success at Colorado State that he had at Nevada he will be having to call the movers once again.
Nevada HC record 33-26
Jeff Monken (Army)
Jeff Monken was one of the most mentioned names being tossed around the coaching carousel these past couple offseason. Entering his ninth season with Army, Monken has had wonderful success with the Black Knights. His ability to do so much with so little has programs chomping at the bit to bring him in, but at the same time are questioning if an Army coach can really excel with a normal power conference program. Should a team pull the trigger this offseason expect it to be a B1G or Big XII school looking to be run heavy and defense oriented.
Army HC record 96-59
Georgia Southern HC record 38-16
The Next Big Names
Jeff Lebby (Oklahoma, offensive coordinator)
Jeff Lebby is entering his first season at Oklahoma as the offensive coordinator and previously was in the same position for Ole Miss and UCF. One of the top coordinators in the nation his name was linked to Texas Tech and TCU in previous seasons. With his experience under Gus Malzahn and Lane Kiffin his knowledge and play calling ability has been and will continue to be highly coveted. When the right program calls Lebby will jump at the opportunity, expect for his first shot to come in the Southern region as that is where all of his current coaching experience has occured.
Brian Hartline (Ohio State, passing game coordinator)
Brian Hartline will be a new name on the coaching market this coming offseason. After what may be one of the best recruiting jobs we've seen in quite some time his name is popping up all around programs looking to take a chance with a position coach who has the chance to get their school on the map. Hartline is entering his fifth season in the offensive room for Ohio State. Should he have a successful season as the Buckeyes passing game coordinator he will definitely be at the top of lists for MAC, Sun Belt and AAC schools next offseason.