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10 Coaching Candidates to Replace Al Golden at Miami

Al Golden

Al Golden

Miami coach Al Golden was fired on Sunday, one day after the Hurricanes suffered the worst loss in program history in a 58-0 defeat against Clemson. Golden worked for five years as Miami’s head coach, posting a 32-25 record in that span. Additionally, the Hurricanes were 17-18 under Golden’s watch in ACC play and only had one season of more than seven victories.

Tight end coach Larry Scott will serve as the program’s interim coach for the final five regular season games (and potentially a bowl game).

Who will replace Golden at Miami? Here are 10 names to watch.

10 Coaches to Watch in Miami's Search to Replace Al Golden

Rob Chudzinski, assistant coach, Indianapolis Colts

Chudzinski has ties to Miami but has never worked as a head coach on the collegiate level. The Ohio native played as a tight end with the Hurricanes from 1986-90 and started his coaching career in the program from 1994-95 as a graduate assistant. Chudzinski was later promoted to tight ends coach in 1996 and eventually called the plays for the Hurricanes from 2001-03. From 2004-15, Chudzinski worked in the NFL, including the 2013 season as Cleveland’s head coach.

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Mario Cristobal, offensive line coach, Alabama

Cristobal is a name many around the Miami program are familiar with, as the Alabama offensive line coach is a former Hurricane player and assistant. Cristobal played at Miami in the early 1990s and later worked as an assistant from 2004-06 in Coral Gables. Additionally, Cristobal was a head coach at FIU from 2007-12, recording a 27-47 record in that span. While the overall record at FIU wasn’t overly impressive, Cristobal inherited a mess and guided the Panthers to back-to-back bowl games in 2010-11.

Butch Davis, former Miami coach

Davis is a popular name among many in the Miami fanbase to replace Golden. However, just how realistic is Davis as a candidate considering his tenure at North Carolina ended with a NCAA scandal? Davis is one of the most qualified candidates on this list, as he worked as an assistant at Miami from 1984-88 and later served as the program’s head coach from 1995-00. Davis went 51-20 with the Hurricanes and 28-23 with North Carolina from 2007-10. He has not coached since his tenure ended in Chapel Hill in 2010.

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Justin Fuente, head coach, Memphis

Fuente will be one of the top names to watch in the coaching carousel this offseason. In four seasons with the Tigers, Fuente has guided Memphis to a 24-20 record, including a 17-3 mark over the program’s last 20 games. Fuente’s turnaround at Memphis is even more impressive when you consider the state of the program after two seasons (3-21) under Larry Porter from 2010-11. Does Miami have the necessary resources (money) to pursue Fuente?

Tom Herman, head coach, Houston

Similar to Justin Fuente, Herman is another coach expected to draw a lot of interest from Power 5 programs this offseason. Herman is 7-0 in his first season with the Cougars, which is led by one of the nation’s most explosive offenses (47.6 points per game). Prior to taking over at Houston, Herman worked under Urban Meyer as Ohio State’s offensive coordinator (2012-14) and was arguably the nation’s best assistant in 2014. The Buckeyes lost starting quarterbacks J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones, yet the offense never missed a beat with Cardale Jones under center on the way to the national championship. Herman also has stops as an offensive coordinator at Iowa State, Rice and Texas State.

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Doc Holliday, head coach, Marshall

Holliday wouldn’t be a big-name hire, but there are plenty of reasons for Miami to be interested. The West Virginia native is regarded as an outstanding recruiter – the type of coach Miami would need to win battles for players in South Florida against Florida State and Florida. Holliday also has ties to the state of Florida after working on Urban Meyer’s staff in Gainesville from 2005-07. Marshall is 47-26 under Holliday’s watch, including a 30-6 mark over the last three seasons.

Rich Rodriguez, head coach, Arizona

Rodriguez already has a good job at Arizona, but his name is likely to pop up other coaching searches this offseason. He's 31-17 in four years with the Wildcats and won the South Division title last season. Additionally, Rodriguez went 60-26 at West Virginia and 15-22 before he was fired at Michigan. There's no question Rodriguez is one of the nation's top 25 coaches and is a proven winner. However, with other jobs (Virginia Tech?) likely to open, Miami will have to pay big to land Rodriguez. Do the Hurricanes have enough resources? 

Greg Schiano, former Rutgers/Tampa Bay head coach

Schiano is another Miami assistant who could surface as a candidate for this job. The former Rutgers and Tampa Bay head coach has been out of football since he was fired from the Buccaneers at the end of the 2013 season. Schiano went 68-67 with the Scarlet Knights and guided the program to five consecutive bowl appearances from 2005-09. Schiano worked as Miami’s defensive coordinator from 1999-00.

Mark Stoops, head coach, Kentucky

Stoops is another former Miami assistant who could be targeted in this coaching search. The Ohio native is 11-20 in three years with Kentucky, but the Wildcats have showed marked improvement under his watch. After a 2-10 record in Stoops’ debut, Kentucky won five games in 2014 and is on track to make the program’s first bowl trip since 2010. Stoops started his coaching career in 1990 as a graduate assistant at Iowa and later worked as an assistant at USF, Wyoming and Houston before coaching defensive backs with the Hurricanes from 2001-03. After the three-year stint at Miami, Stoops worked as the defensive coordinator at Arizona and Florida State.

Brent Venables, defensive coordinator, Clemson

If Miami is willing to consider assistants for this job, Venables has to be near the top of the list. He’s regarded as one of the top assistants in the nation and certainly knows his way round the ACC after spending the last four years at Clemson. Venables played at Kansas State under Bill Snyder from 1991-92 and joined the program as a graduate assistant in 1993. After working as an assistant with the Wildcats, Venables was hired on Bob Stoops’ first staff at Oklahoma in 1999 and stayed in Norman until 2011. Venables has been a key piece in Clemson’s recent success and coordinated a defense that was arguably the nation’s best last season.


P.J. Fleck, head coach, Western Michigan

Fleck is the youngest coach on the FBS level, but it’s only a matter of time before he moves up the coaching ladder and has an opportunity at a Power 5 program. The former Northern Illinois receiver is regarded as an excellent recruiter and has brought steady improvement to Western Michigan since 2013. After a 1-11 record in his first season, Fleck guided the Broncos to an 8-5 mark last year and a 4-3 start in 2015. For a program needing energy and the ability to recruit against Florida State and Florida, Fleck is a potential fit in Coral Gables.

Lane Kiffin, offensive coordinator, Alabama

Kiffin will eventually get a chance to be a head coach once again. However, Miami seems like a longshot.

Chuck Pagano, head coach, Indianapolis Colts

Pagano has ties to the program as a former assistant, but he hasn’t coached on the collegiate level since 2007. He’s also on the hot seat with the Colts and would be more likely to stay in the NFL ranks.