College football’s coaching carousel took a surprise turn on Sunday, as Mark Richt decided to retire at Miami. Richt spent three years in Coral Gables, going 26-13 overall and 16-8 in ACC play. After winning 19 games over Richt’s first two years, the Hurricanes regressed to 7-6 and was facing a significant staff overhaul this offseason. Richt also went 145-51 at Georgia from 2001-15.
Who could replace Richt at Miami? Here are 10 names to watch:
Miami Football: 10 Coaching Candidates to Replace Mark Richt
Dino Babers, Head Coach, Syracuse
Syracuse announced a contract extension for Babers this offseason, but Miami at least has to inquire. Babers is one of college football’s top minds on offense and has elevated Syracuse over the last three years. After back-to-back 4-8 records to start his tenure, Babers guided the Orange to a 10-3 record and a finish in the top 25 in 2018. He previously went 18-9 at Bowling Green from 2014-15 and 19-7 at Eastern Illinois (2012-13).
Neal Brown, Head Coach, Troy
Brown is one of college football’s top coaches on the rise, and it’s only a matter of time before he gets a chance to run a Power 5 program. The Kentucky native is 35-16 since taking over at Troy prior to the 2015 season. The Trojans have won at least 10 games in each of the last three years. Before he took over at Troy, Brown worked as the offensive coordinator at Texas Tech and Kentucky. Brown can be patient, but considering his level of success, Miami would be wise to give him a call.
Mario Cristobal, Head Coach, Oregon
Cristobal has a significant buyout, but he has to be mentioned here due to his connections with the program. Cristobal played at Miami and later spent time in Coral Gables as an assistant (2004-06). The Miami native went 27-47 at FIU from 2007-12 and finished 8-4 in his first year as Oregon’s coach in 2018. Again, the buyout is steep, so this seems like a longshot to happen.
Butch Davis, Head Coach, FIU
Could Miami dip into the past for its next head coach? Davis went 51-20 with the Hurricanes from 1995-00, capped by an 11-1 mark in ’00. After a stint in the NFL with the Browns, Davis returned to the collegiate ranks at North Carolina. He went 28-23 (with three winning records) but was dismissed prior to the 2011 season. After he was out of coaching for six years, Davis returned to the sideline at FIU. The Panthers are 17-9 over the last two seasons, including a 9-4 mark in ’18.
Manny Diaz, Head Coach, Temple
This one is tricky. Diaz was just named as the head coach at Temple this offseason, but he’s a perfect fit for this program. Diaz is a native of Miami and has coordinated the defense under Richt over the last three years. Is there a way for Diaz to get out of his contract at Temple?
Dana Holgorsen, Head Coach, West Virginia
Holgorsen’s name has popped up in the rumor mill in connection with Houston and Texas Tech this offseason. Does he actually have interest in leaving Morgantown? If so, Miami would figure to at least inquire. Holgorsen is 61-41 at West Virginia and has guided the program to seven winning records in eight years. His 2016 team finished No. 18 nationally and won 10 games, while the ’18 version finished 8-4 behind Heisman candidate Will Grier. Holgorsen is one of the top minds on offense in college football.
Lane Kiffin, Head Coach, FAU
Could Kiffin make the short trek from Boca Raton to Miami? He’s 16-10 in two years at FAU, which includes an 11-3 mark with a Conference USA title in 2017. Kiffin called the plays at Alabama from 2014-16 and had stints as the head coach at USC (2010-13) and Tennessee (2009).
Mike Leach, Head Coach, Washington State
Leach had one of college football’s top best coaching performances in 2018, as he guided Washington State to an 11-2 record and a share of the Pac-12 North title. The Cougars are 49-40 under his watch and have won at least eight games in each of the last four years. Leach previously went 84-43 at Texas Tech from 2000-09. Additionally, it’s no secret he knows how to build a high-powered offense on a yearly basis.
Greg Schiano, Co-Defensive Coordinator, Ohio State
Schiano is another coach with ties to the program, as he worked as the defensive coordinator in Coral Gables from 1999-00. Schiano had a successful tenure as Rutgers’ head coach, accumulating a 68-67 mark from 2001-11. Schiano was hired as the Buccaneers’ head coach prior to the 2012 season but was dismissed after two years. The New Jersey native has coordinated Ohio State’s defense over the last three seasons, and it’s no secret his name was mentioned prominently in Tennessee’s search last fall.
Mark Stoops, Head Coach, Kentucky
Stoops has previous experience working at Miami, as he coached defensive backs in Coral Gables from 2001-03. The Ohio native took over as Kentucky’s head coach prior to the 2013 season and has compiled a 35-39 record during his tenure. The Wildcats have made steady progress under Stoops’ direction, as they have recorded three straight winning records, including a 9-3 mark in 2018.