Monday, January 11, 2010

Catching up: Coaches are goin' places (or not)

* USC gets shot down: Mike Riley is no longer a candidate at USC after withdrawing his name from consideration and signing a three-year extension with Oregon State. I'm a little surprised -- I thought he'd at least listen to an offer, because it's not like Oregon State is a better job in any way, shape or form than USC. But I guess he's happy where he is, and there's nothing at all wrong with that.

Where does USC turn now? I figured Steve Sarkisian would be high on the list, but he said Sunday that USC hadn't called and that he wouldn't be interested anyway. Jeff Fisher also said he has no interest, specifically citing the pending NCAA investigation. I also don't think Jim Harbaugh's leaving Stanford for a rival he's made no secret of hating. There's been no word yet on Jaguars coach Jack del Rio (another USC alum), but if he decides to stay in the NFL, the choices would be limited.

I think Paul Hackett's looking for another head coaching job ... seriously though, it'll be really interesting to see if USC goes after somebody like Mike Leach, Gary Patterson or Chris Petersen.

* What's going on at USF? Jim Leavitt has hired a team of lawyers in an effort to force USF to reinstate him as head coach. He maintains that he did not hit Joel Miller in the face and that he should not have been fired, and his lawyers threw in this little nugget:
The attorneys released a statement Friday of behalf of the coach, saying the dismissal "is contrary to the terms of his contract" and violates Leavitt's constitutional rights.
I'm not sure which amendment says you can't be fired; if there is one, I'm sure a lot of people would like to know about it.

This is probably a financial move, as Leavitt is owed only a week's pay ($66,667) if fired with cause, but there was a rumor earlier today from ESPN's Bruce Feldman that USF was actually considering giving Leavitt his job back (!!!). It's also been reported that Michigan offensive coordinator Calvin Magee will interview (or already has) for the job, while East Carolina's Skip Holtz, former Iowa State coach Dan McCarney and both Terry and Tommy Bowden have been mentioned as candidates.

There's nobody on that list better than Leavitt, but it would be bizarre and shocking to see him get his job back after the school's investigative report pretty much called him a lying bastard.

* They are ND: Notre Dame's coaching staff is just about complete. Brian Kelly has been assembling his staff over the past week and now has all the key pieces in place, including offensive coordinator Charley Molnar and defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, both of whom came over from Cincinnati.

Molnar served as QBs coach but apparently will add the role of OC -- which is mostly just a title since Kelly calls the plays -- while Diaco will remain D-coordinator. For all the criticism Cincinnati's defense took this year, Diaco did a pretty good job taking a unit that lost 10 of 11 starters from 2008 and getting it to respectability (66th in total defense and 44th in scoring defense). Before coming to Cincinnati, he served as a linebackers coach under Al Groh, meaning he loves him some 3-4.

The interesting name on the staff: Chuck Martin, the former Grand Valley State head coach who I mentioned as a possible D-coordinator candidate when Kelly was named Notre Dame's coach. Martin has a ridiculous resume, going 74-7 with two national titles in six years at Grand Valley, and Kelly offered him the DC job at both Central Michigan and Cincinnati. At Notre Dame, though, he'll actually be coaching defensive backs, which was his role as an assistant before becoming D-coordinator at Grand Valley. He'll also likely be an assistant head coach.

The rest of the staff is mostly Cincinnati guys. The lone Notre Dame holdover is running backs coach Tony Alford, a veteran who's been at ND for two years after spending time at Louisville, Iowa State, Washington, etc. He's been around and has coached some pretty good players, including Victor Anderson at Louisville and Troy Davis at Iowa State. Notre Dame was pretty terrible at running the ball this year (84th in the country), but that had more to do with the crappy offensive line than the running backs.

Outside of losing offensive coordinator Jeff Quinn to Buffalo, Kelly has to be pretty happy. Keeping most of his staff intact and adding Chuck Martin isn't a bad way to start his Notre Dame career.

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