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17 Coaching Candidates to Replace Randy Edsall at Maryland

Randy Edsall

Randy Edsall

Maryland coach Randy Edsall was dismissed on Sunday, ending a five-year run in College Park with a 22-34 record. Offensive coordinator and former New Mexico head coach Mike Locksley will work for the rest of 2015 as the interim coach. The Terrapins are off to a 2-4 start this season. Edsall guided Maryland to back-to-back bowls in 2013-14 but started his tenure with a 2-10 mark and was never a popular hire among the fanbase.

While Maryland is in a tough division (Big Ten East), there are plenty of positives about this job. The facilities are improving, and this program has support from Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank as a booster.

Who will Maryland target as Edsall’s replacement? Here’s a list of names to watch in this coaching search:

17 Coaches to Watch in Maryland's Search to Replace Randy Edsall

Dino Babers, head coach, Bowling Green

Maryland got a glimpse of Babers’ coaching ability earlier this season, as Bowling Green defeated the Terrapins 48-27 on Sept. 12. Babers gathered a wealth of experience as an assistant prior to taking over at Eastern Illinois in 2012. In two years with the Panthers, Babers accumulated a 19-7 record and two FCS playoff appearances. Babers went 8-6 in his first year at Bowling Green (2014), and despite losing starting quarterback Matt Johnson after the opener, still managed to win the MAC East. The Falcons are 4-2 through six games and have two wins over Power 5 opponents (Purdue and Maryland). After spending four years under Art Briles at Baylor, it’s no surprise Babers has emerged as one of the top offensive-minded coaches from the Group of 5 ranks.

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Matt Campbell, head coach, Toledo

Campbell is regarded as one of college football’s top rising stars in the coaching ranks. The 35-year-old coach is 31-13 at Toledo, the Rockets are off to a 5-0 start in 2015 and enter Week 7 ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. The Ohio native played at the ultra-successful Mount Union program from 1999-02 and later worked as an assistant at Bowling Green and Toledo prior to taking over the head coach role after Tim Beckman left for Illinois. 

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P.J. Fleck, head coach, Western Michigan

Fleck is the youngest coach in the FBS ranks and is in his third season as Western Michigan’s head coach. The Illinois native was a prolific receiver during his college tenure at Northern Illinois and spent two seasons in the NFL with the 49ers. Fleck made stops at Northern Illinois, Rutgers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before taking over in Kalamazoo. Through three seasons, Fleck is 11-19 at Western Michigan. However, this program has made significant improvement since a 1-11 record in 2013 and played in a bowl last season. Fleck isn’t short on energy or enthusiasm and is also regarded for his ability to recruit.

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Scott Frost, offensive coordinator, Oregon

If Maryland wants to be the Oregon of the East Coast, why not hire a rising star in the assistant ranks from the program in Eugene? Frost took over as the Ducks’ play-caller after Chip Kelly for the NFL and guided Oregon’s offense to a No. 1 rank in the Pac-12 in scoring from 2013-14. Prior to coordinating the high-powered offense in Eugene, Frost worked as a wide receivers coach with Oregon from 2009-12 and had a two-year stint at Northern Iowa. The Nebraska native has no head coaching experience, but his ability to generate high-powered offenses is intriguing. 

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Justin Fuente, head coach, Memphis

Fuente has significantly improved Memphis’ program in just four seasons on the job. After working from 2007-11 at TCU under Gary Patterson, Fuente was hired at Memphis and inherited a mess from former coach Larry Porter after a 3-21 mark from 2010-11. The Tigers immediately improved to 4-8 in Fuente’s first season and finished 10-3 with a No. 25 finish in the final Associated Press Top 25 poll last year. If he’s ready to leave Memphis, Fuente will have no shortage of suitors this offseason.

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Tom Herman, head coach, Houston

Herman was one of the nation’s top assistants at Ohio State, and the Cincinnati native is off to a 5-0 start as Houston’s head coach. Prior to stops with the Buckeyes and the current stint with the Cougars, Herman worked as an assistant at Iowa State, Rice, Texas State and Sam Houston State. Herman’s coaching ability was on full display last year when Ohio State was forced to use its third-string quarterback (Cardale Jones) after injuries to Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett and still won the national championship. Through five games this year, Houston is averaging 46.4 points per game. Herman will have no shortage of suitors in the next couple of years.

Mark Hudspeth, head coach, UL Lafayette

Considering Hudspeth’s two head coaching jobs came at North Alabama and UL Lafayette, he’s more likely to jump at an opportunity in the same region. However, Hudspeth’s name shouldn’t be overlooked in Maryland’s search. The Mississippi native went 66-21 at North Alabama and is 37-18 through five years at UL Lafayette. Hudspeth has transformed the Ragin’ Cajuns into a consistent bowl team and Sun Belt title contender. Prior to taking over in Lafayette, Hudspeth worked as an assistant for two years at Mississippi State under Dan Mullen. 

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Pete Lembo, head coach, Ball State

Lembo has been a successful head coach at three different jobs, recording a 111-59 record over the last 15 years. After stops at Lehigh and Elon in the FCS ranks, Lembo was hired at Ball State and brought immediate improvement to the program. The Cardinals won 25 games from 2011-13 and dipped to 5-7 in a rebuilding year last season. Lembo wouldn't be a big-name hire like some of the other coaches on this list, but he is a proven winner and would be a sharp hire.

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Doug Meacham, offensive coordinator, TCU

Meacham was arguably the best coordinator hire last year. TCU’s offense averaged only 25.1 points per game in 2013 but jumped to 46.5 in 2014 under Meacham’s play-calling. The Texas native also spent one season at Houston as the offensive coordinator, worked from 2005-12 at Oklahoma State and also made stops as an assistant at Samford, Henderson State and Jacksonville State. He’s never been a head coach in the collegiate level.

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Mike Norvell, offensive coordinator, Arizona State

It’s only a matter of time before Norvell is hired as a head coach at a Power 5 program. The 33-year-old play-caller has been on a fast rise through the assistant ranks and has spent time with coach Todd Graham at each of his last three stops. Norvell worked with wide receivers at Tulsa from 2007-10 and as a co-offensive coordinator with Pittsburgh in 2011. Under Norvell’s direction, Arizona State averaged at least 36 points per game from 2012-14.

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Frank Reich, offensive coordinator, San Diego Chargers

Reich has ties to the program as a former Maryland quarterback, but he’s never worked as a head coach on the FBS level or in the NFL. Reich was hired as a NFL assistant in 2008 with the Colts and has steadily worked his way through the ranks. The New York native worked for one year at Arizona (2012) and was hired by Mike McCoy in 2013 with the Chargers.

Matt Rhule, head coach, Temple

Temple has made considerable progress under Rhule’s watch and emerged as one of the top Group of 5 programs in 2015. The Owls are 5-0 and defeated Rhule’s alma mater (Penn State) in the opener. After a 2-10 record in Rhule’s first season, Temple is 11-6 over its last 17 games and is the favorite to win the American Athletic Conference’s East Division in 2015. Prior to taking over as Temple’s coach, Rhule worked as an assistant with the Owls under Al Golden and Steve Addazio, spent a year with the Giants (2012) and had short stints at UCLA and Buffalo. Rhule’s offenses at Temple have struggled, but the Owls have been one of the best in the AAC on defense over the last two years.

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Lincoln Riley, offensive coordinator, Oklahoma

Riley is a Mike Leach disciple and is well versed in the Air Raid offense. The Texas native spent time as a full-time assistant at Texas Tech under Leach from 2007-09 and was hired by Ruffin McNeill at East Carolina prior to the 2010 season. The Pirates had a prolific offense under Riley, including a No. 2 rank in the American Athletic Conference in 2014 by averaging 35.8 points per game. Riley has made a significant impact in his first season at Oklahoma, as the Sooners average 37 points per game in 2015.

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Rich Rodriguez, head coach, Arizona

Rodriguez has a good job at Arizona and is coming off a 10-4 record with a Pac-12 South title last season. Needless to say, it would take a a lot for Rodriguez to leave Tucson. Additionally, Rodriguez has a couple of recruiting classes under his belt in Tucson and plenty of talent to implement his scheme on offense. As Rodriguez found out at Michigan, it’s not easy to rebuild or start from scratch with a new scheme or identity. Prior to his three-year stint at Michigan, Rodriguez went 60-26 at West Virginia.

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Mike Sanford, offensive coordinator, Notre Dame

Sanford might be a year or two away from taking his first head coaching gig, but the former Boise State quarterback is a rising star in the assistant ranks. The Virginia native started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at UNLV in 2005 and remained in that role until 2007. After two years with the Cardinal, Sanford spent time at Yale (2009) and WKU (2010) and returned to the Cardinal in 2011. He called the plays for Boise State in 2014, guiding the Broncos’ offense to an average of 39.7 points per game. Sanford is in his first year at Notre Dame, helping to guide an offense that averages 7.2 yards per play.

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Greg Schiano, former Tampa Bay/Rutgers coach

Schiano has been out of coaching since he was fired at the end of the 2013 season with Tampa Bay. However, it seems likely he will resurface in the college ranks in the near future. In 11 seasons as the head coach at Rutgers, Schiano guided the Scarlet Knights to a 68-67 record and six bowl appearances. Schiano inherited a program at the bottom of the Big East and transformed Rutgers into a consistent winner. He’s also familiar with recruiting on the East Coast.

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Brent Venables, defensive coordinator, Clemson

Venables is regarded as one of the nation’s top defensive coordinators and is ready for an opportunity to run his own program. The Kansas native played for two seasons for Bill Snyder in Manhattan from 1991-92 and joined the assistant coach ranks with the Wildcats in 1993. Venables was hired as Oklahoma’s co-defensive coordinator in 1999 and remained in Norman until 2011. Under Venables’ direction, Clemson has ranked among the nation’s best on defense. The Tigers ranked first nationally in fewest yards per play allowed last season (4.03), and despite losing several key performers off last year’s group, Clemson still has one of the top defenses in the ACC.

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7 Longshots to Watch

Sonny Dykes, head coach, California

Dykes was hired to get the Golden Bears back on track after Jeff Tedford was dismissed after the 2012 season. Dykes went 1-11 in his debut with California, but the Golden Bears are 10-8 over the last two seasons and rank among the nation’s best on offense. Conversations about Dykes’ long-term outlook have popped up recently, as he has just two years remaining on his original five-year deal.

Al Golden, head coach, Miami

Golden is on the hot seat at Miami, so a mutual parting might be in order this offseason. Golden is 31-24 with the Hurricanes but helped Temple improve from a 1-11 team in 2006 to a program that recorded 17 wins from 2009-10. The former Penn State tight end has ties to the East Coast, as he’s from New Jersey and has stops as an assistant at Virginia, Boston College and with the Nittany Lions. 

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Chip Kelly, head coach, Philadelphia Eagles

Let's get this out of the way. Kelly’s name is going to pop up in the rumor mill for the open Power 5 jobs this offseason. However, he’s not leaving the NFL after 2015. 

Lane Kiffin, offensive coordinator, Alabama

Kiffin in the same division as Jim Harbaugh, James Franklin and Urban Meyer? Sign us up. Kiffin’s tenure at USC ended after a 3-2 start in 2013, but he’s going to get another chance as a head coach. Kiffin has a 35-21 career record from his time with the Trojans and one year at Tennessee. Kiffin has excelled as Alabama’s play-caller for the last two seasons, guiding the Crimson Tide offense to an average of 36.9 points per game in 2014. 

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Mike Leach, head coach, Washington State

Leach and Maryland booster Kevin Plank are reportedly close friends, so there’s plenty of familiarity here. However, Leach did not get the job after Ralph Friedgen was let go after the 2010 season.

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Dan Mullen, head coach, Mississippi State

Mullen is unlikely to leave Mississippi State for Maryland, but he’s an intriguing off-the-radar name to watch. The SEC West isn’t getting any easier and consistent success in Starkville (just three seasons of more than nine wins in program history) has been difficult.

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Tommy Tuberville, head coach, Cincinnati

Tuberville has been a successful coach at four different FBS jobs – Ole Miss, Auburn, Texas Tech and Cincinnati. He’s recorded a 151-87 overall record in that span and has only four losing seasons in 19 years as a head coach. Tuberville isn’t flashy, but he’s a proven winner. Is Maryland looking for a splashier hire? 

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