And now on to who's next. I have compiled a list of ten head coaching candidates that the University should consider. Other open or potentially open head coaching position are Auburn, Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky, Boston College, USF, Cal, USC, Michigan State, Iowa, and any schools who's head coach is hired away.
1. James Franklin – Head Coach, Vanderbilt
The name that has been tossed around most is Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin. Franklin knows NC State AD Debbie Yow from his time as OC at Maryland. He has been the head coach of Vanderbilt for two years and has complied a record of 14-11. A couple of red flags with Franklin: he has only been the Vandy head coach for two years meaning that most of the players weren't recruited by him, this isn't saying that he can't recruit just something to be weary of. Also with some of the prominent open head coaching position listed above he may have better offers than NC State. Update: James Franklin is not a serious candidate for the NC State job.
2. Sonny Dykes – Head Coach, Louisiana Tech
The second name to look at is Sonny Dykes who replaced Derek Dooley as the Louisiana Tech head coach. Under Dooley La Tech was 17-20 and under Dykes, who's father is legendary Texas Tech coach Spike Dykes, the team is 22-14 with a bowl game to go. Dykes runs a throwing spread offense similar to Oklahoma State and Texas A&M. Dykes doesn't have any really big red flags but could be tapped for a prominent position similar to Franklin. If he can win with the talent he has at La Tech, he should be able to win at NC State. Sonny Dykes is my choice for head coach at NC State.
3. Kriby Smart – Defensive Coordinator, Alabama
Who better to hire as your new head coach than the Coordinator of one of the top defenses on one of the top teams in the country. Kirby Smart has been the DC at Alabama since Nick Saben was hired in 2007. Alabama has had a great defense during Smart's tenure including being #1 overall this season and has lead to two National Championships and maybe a third. The biggest flags with Smart as that he has never been a head coach and he is the highest paid assistant in the country. Tom O'Brien only made a little more this year than Smart did so it may to hard to lure him away from Alabama.
4. Chad Morris – Offensive Coordinator, Clemson
Fourth on my list is someone who NC State fans should be familiar with, Clemson OC Chad Morris. Most of us saw Clemson's offense put up 62 points on NC State two weeks ago. The offense is top ten in years per game and averages 42 points a game. Morris has been the OC at Clemson for two year and he spent one year at Tulsa before that. That is his only experience in college football having been a high school head coach in Texas for about 15 years. Not only would hiring Morris add excitement to our offense it would weaken, in my opinion, our second biggest football rival.
5. Mark Helfrich – Offensive Coordinator, Oregon
More offense, Mark Helfrich has been the OC at Oregon for four years. Most people are familiar with Oregon's offense which is one of the most explosive offenses in the country. The concerns with Helfrich are that he has never been a head coach and he doesn't call plays at Oregon. The other larger concern is that Chip Kelly could leave Oregon for the NFL and Helfrich would be the favorite to replace him.
Here are the next five potential candidates. I'm not going to detail each one, but each of them would make an excellent head coach for NC State.
6. Mark Stoops – Defensive Coordinator, Florida State
7. Charlie Strong – Head Coach, Louisville
8. Darrell Hazell – Head Coach, Kent State
9. Bob Diaco – Defensive Coordinator, Notre Dame
10. Kliff Kingsbury – Offensive Coordinator, Texas A&M
I expect the coaching search to take about three weeks and I wish AD Debbie Yow good luck in her search. If she wants any help, she knows where to find me.