Reed-Francois does have a playbook of looking for what she considers up-and-coming coaches, but she hinted Monday that could be expanded. So don’t be surprised if she lands a more experienced head coach for this job.
Keep an eye on finances, too. Reed-Francois promised to be “competitive” compared with other Mountain West salaries, and it’s believed she could pay in the $900,000 range or so.
Here’s a short list of possible candidates listed alphabetically:
Joe Brady, passing game coordinator, Louisiana State. Only 30, Brady is a rising star in the coaching profession. He spent two years as an offensive assistant for the New Orleans Saints before moving into his current role with LSU this season. Quarterback Joe Burrow’s Heisman candidacy could attract a lot of interest in Brady.
Kalen DeBoer, offensive coordinator, Indiana. He is a nominee for the Broyles Award, which goes to the nation’s top assistant coach. DeBoer also knows the Mountain West, serving as Fresno State’s OC in 2017 and 2018, taking an offense that ranked 12oth to 47th in two years. The Bulldogs also went from 4-20 the two previous to 22-6 while DeBoer was there. He was the head coach at Sioux Falls in the late 2000s and won three NAIA national championships.
Danny Gonzales, defensive coordinator, Arizona State. His work with a young defense last season earned a promotion to assistant head coach, and the Sun Devils are playing even better on that side of the ball this year. Plus, Gonzales knows the Mountain West, overseeing the conference’s top-ranked defense at San Diego State in 2017. His alma mater is New Mexico, which came open Monday.
Clay Helton, head coach, Southern California. He has been on the proverbial hot seat all season, but the Trojans are surging with three consecutive victories to get to 8-4 and a No. 25 ranking. USC has a new athletic director in Mike Bohn, who knows he has a fan base that wants to get back to competing for national championships and might go for a big-name hire.
Jay Hill, head coach, Weber State. He fits the mold of a Reed-Francois hire, a coach still building his resume. Hill went 2-10 his first season in 2014, but is in the FCS playoffs for the fourth year in a row and earned at least a share of the Big Sky Conference title for the third straight season.
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