This is a follow up to my earlier post about what I’d want in a new OSU coach if Mike Riley was to step down, leave, or be fired. Let’s face it, Nick Saban or Urban Myers aren’t walking through the doors of the Valley Football Center anytime soon, so who are realistic candidates? Here’s my list (in no particular order) based on a mix of realism, connections to OSU/Pacific Northwest, and wishful thinking.
1. Beau Baldwin, Eastern Washington Head Coach: In his seventh season at the helm of the Golden Eagles, Baldwin has 56-22 overall record, including a 38-10 mark in Big Sky play. He’s no stranger to OSU fans as his Eagles upset the Beavers in the 2013 season opener, 49-46, at Reser Stadium. He’s also served as the head coach at Central Washington for one season, and is known for his work with quarterbacks.
- Pros: Is an offensive guru; is younger and seems extremely personable; has strong Pacific Northwest roots.
- Cons: No FBS coaching experience; isn’t a big name and might not create much excitement among causal fans; can he recruit at the next level?
- Why he ends up at OSU: His salary would get a huge boost, and what young coach doesn’t want to keep moving up the ladder?
2. Paul Chryst, Pittsburgh Head Coach: Could third time be the charm for Chryst? He was the offensive coordinator during Riley’s first stint as OSU’s coach and first two years of Riley’s second stint with the Beavers. After spending seven years as offensive coordinator at Wisconsin, he got his first head coaching job in 2012 with Pitt. Including this season, he has 17-18 record with the Panthers, including a 8-12 mark in conference.
- Pros: Understands the challenge of recruiting to Corvallis; has high-level FBS coaching experience; is well-regarded for developing quarterbacks, including Derek Anderson.
- Cons: Isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire at Pitt; is he too much in the same mold as Riley?; is he still innovative on offense?
- Why he ends up at OSU: He might be looking for friendlier confines if Pitt finishes poorly this season.
3. Dennis Erickson, Utah Running Backs Coach: I’m half joking with this one… on second thought, hear me out. Yes, the silver-haired fox has shortcomings, but you can’t dispute the fact that he would bring an aura of excitement. Those national championship rings, as well as that Fiesta Bowl ring, still shine brightly. Of course, he would be short-term solution at his age (or if he bolts), but if it was a coach-in-waiting type deal, why not? He’s always said leaving OSU is his biggest regret, so I bet he’d want a shot to win BIG with the Beavers again.
- Pros: Teams would play with swagger and hit hard; could bring Craig Bray back as defensive coordinator; his offense is easier to grasp and aims for the big play.
- Cons: Has always thrived off other coaches’ recruits, not his; could recruit more questionable character players to OSU; does he still have the energy to run a program.
- Why he ends up at OSU: He’d like nothing more than to stick it to a program that demoted him from offensive coordinator to running backs coach.
4. Lincoln Riley, Eastern Carolina Offensive Coordinator: With an assist from Peter, here’s the “Isn’t like the others” name of the group. The 31-year old Riley is in his fifth season coaching the Pirates’ offense and quarterbacks. During that time, his offenses are ranked 1-4 in the ECU record books. The secret to his success? He spent seven years as an assistant at Texas Tech. So you know Riley understands the importance of moving the ball downfield in a hurry. Plus, for those who love Mike, the Riley part would stay 🙂
- Pros: Comes from the Texas Tech coaching tree; would run an offense that can put up numbers in a hurry; his age probably makes it easier for players/recruits to relate to him.
- Cons: No head coaching experience; how good of a staff could he put together? OSU needs an entire staff of not just good coaches, but recruiters as well; No PNW connections, so would he even come to OSU?
- Why he ends up at OSU: He’s got to start somewhere, and why not in the pass-happy Pac-12, where his offense would be right at home and thrive?
5. Jonathan Smith, Washington Offensive Coordinator: Smith is the sentimental choice. He’s forever loved by Beaver Nation because he went from walk-on to Fiesta Bowl MVP. And almost more impressive is the fact that he was able to grasp Riley’s offense from the get go. It’s no wonder he’s carved a nice path as an assistant coach and left many Beaver fans wishing he’d return to Corvallis. But would he necessarily be successful?
- Pros: Has an impressive resume as a QB coach/offensive coordinator (Idaho, Montana, Boise State, Washington; knows everything OSU and Corvallis has to offer; would be a popular hire from the get go.
- Cons: Does he have the persona to schmooze with recruits and donors?; has no head coaching experience at any level; he’s come under fire in wake of the UW’s offensive inconsistencies this season.
- Why he ends up at OSU: Sooner or later, he wants to run his own program, and why not the one he helped turn around and is beloved by?
What other coaches (who are realistic options) would you add to this list?