Pick 6: With Riley moving up, which coordinators are next?
By promoting Lincoln Riley to head coach at age 33, Oklahoma locked up one of the most promising coordinators in college football and took a likely hot candidate off the job market.
Riley replacing Bob Stoops makes 11 former assistant coaches who will be making their head coaching debuts in 2017, including Justin Wilcox at California, Luke Fickell at Cincinnati and Tom Allen at Indiana.
Which coordinators who have never been FBS head coaches are likely to draw interest when the coaching carousel cranks up later this year? (in alphabetical order):
Dave Aranda, defensive coordinator, LSU
Since 2012 when Aranda was defensive coordinator at Utah State, his defenses have never ranked worse than 15th overall in the country. The cerebral 40-year-old begins his second season at LSU after three with Wisconsin as the highest paid assistant coach in college football at $1.8 million this year.
Manny Diaz, defensive coordinator, Miami
Diaz is numbers guy whose career went off course when he landed in Texas at the end of Mack Brown’s tenure and the defense fell apart. Otherwise he has had successful stints at Mississippi State, Louisiana Tech and now Miami, where the Hurricanes went from awful to excellent defensively in their first year under Diaz. The 43-year-old is once again an up-and-comer in the business.
Joe Moorhead, offensive coordinator, Penn State
Moorhead was a successful FCS head coach at Fordham before being lured to Happy Valley by James Franklin. His first season with Penn State was a rousing success. By the end of the season the Nittany Lions had one of the best offenses in the country. He drew interest from Minnesota and Purdue, but another season like last and the 43-year-old could have even more appealing options.
Todd Orlando, defensive coordinator, Texas
The 44-year-old Orlando replaced Aranda at Utah State and then joined Tom Herman at Houston. His defenses tended to get overshadowed by Herman’s high-powered offenses, but Orlando was considered the front-runner to replace Herman with the Cougars. Instead, Houston went with Major Applewhite and Orlando followed Herman to Texas, where he gets another year to pad his resume.
Jeremy Pruitt, defensive coordinator, Alabama
The Nick Saban seal of approval goes a long way. Pruitt was coaching in high school when he got his first big break from Saban. He then did stints as defensive coordinator at Florida State and Georgia before returning to Tuscaloosa last season to replace Kirby Smart. As was the case with Smart, it seems like just a matter of time before the 43-year-old Pruitt gets a chance to run his own program.
Brent Venables, defensive coordinator, Clemson
That Venables is still waiting for his first opportunity to be a head coach is a little surprising. No matter how much personnel turnover, Venables keeps putting top-notch defenses on the field for the Tigers. But he has found a perfect match at Clemson with Dabo Swinney, and he is making $1.7 million this year. He can afford to be patient.
Six more coordinators who have could be in demand:
Lance Anderson, defensive coordinator, Stanford
Matt Canada, offensive coordinator, LSU
Sonny Cumbie, offensive coordinator, TCU
Tim Drevno, offensive coordinator, Michigan
Pete Kwiatkowski, defensive coordinator, Washington
Doug Meacham, offensive coordinator, Kansas
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