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Nebraska Football: Coaching Candidates to Replace Scott Frost

Nebraska Football: How Far Scott Frost is Willing to Go to Find a Winner

Scott Frost was fired at Nebraska on Sunday. The Cornhuskers are the first college football team during the 2022 season to make a change at head coach. Although Frost’s buyout was slated to drop in October, athletic director Trev Alberts decided to make a move after Nebraska’s 45-42 loss to Georgia Southern on Saturday night. Receivers coach Mickey Joseph will work as the team’s interim coach for the final 10 games.

Who could replace Frost at Nebraska? Here are some candidates to watch:

Nebraska Football: Coaching Candidates to Replace Scott Frost

Troy Calhoun, Head Coach, Air Force
If Nebraska wants to get back to its roots and run the option, Calhoun would be a strong fit in Lincoln. The former Air Force quarterback took over at his alma mater in 2007 and is 113-75 overall. Additionally, the Falcons have just four losing seasons in that span and posted four double-digit win totals.

Matt Campbell, Head Coach, Iowa State
Campbell’s name comes up frequently in searches for top jobs. Could Nebraska be the job that lures him away from Iowa State? Campbell went 35-15 at Toledo over four full seasons and is 44-34 with the Cyclones since ’16. After a 3-9 mark in his debut, Campbell has won 41 games and not posted fewer than seven victories.

Jamey Chadwell, Head Coach, Coastal Carolina
Chadwell runs a style (a hybrid option offense) that would be a good blend of the past and present of college football for Nebraska. He’s 32-19 at Coastal Carolina but has a 24-3 mark since ’20. Chadwell hasn’t coached in the Power 5 ranks as a head coach or assistant. However, he’s a proven head coach with stints at North Greenville, Delta State and Charleston Southern in addition to his current job.

Alex Grinch, Defensive Coordinator, USC
Grinch – a native of Ohio – is likely to be a head coach in the near future. After playing his college ball at Mount Union, Grinch worked as an assistant at Wyoming, Missouri, Washington State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and now USC. He’s never been a head coach, but Grinch has worked at a variety of jobs and is a rising star in the coordinator ranks.

Sean Lewis, Head Coach, Kent State
Lewis might be a longshot as he’s light on experience. However, there’s little doubt he’s a rising star in the coaching ranks. The Illinois native worked as an assistant at Eastern Illinois, Bowling Green and Syracuse before becoming the head coach at Kent State in ’18. The Illinois native went 2-10 in his debut but is 17-16 since ’19 at one of the toughest jobs in the MAC. Lewis’ high-powered offense would certainly appeal on the recruiting trail.

Jim Leonhard, Defensive Coordinator, Wisconsin
Leonhard is one of the top coordinators in college football and it’s only a matter of time before he gets a chance to run a Power 5 program. The Wisconsin native played his college ball with the Badgers and took over as the defensive coordinator in Madison in ’17.

Jeff Monken, Head Coach, Army
What about a return to the option? Monken is 58-45 at Army since 2014 and has guided the program to five winning seasons over the last six years. Prior to taking over in West Point, Monken went 38-16 at Georgia Southern. 

Bill O’Brien, Offensive Coordinator, Alabama
O’Brien took over Penn State in a tough spot in 2012 and proceeded to go 15-9 over two seasons. Although his stint in the NFL ended in a firing, O’Brien still won 52 games over six years and is regarded as a top-notch offensive coordinator. Could O’Brien get another shot at a Big Ten school as a head coach? His track record of developing offenses is certainly appealing.

Matt Rhule, Head Coach, Carolina Panthers
It’s no secret Rhule enters the 2022 NFL season squarely on the hot seat. If things don’t work out in Carolina, could Rhule look at a return to the college ranks? Rhule went 28-23 at Temple from 2013-16 and guided Baylor to 19 wins over three seasons. After going 1-11 in his debut in Waco, the Bears improved to 7-6 in ’18 and finished 11-3 in ’19.

Realistic or Not...Nebraska Needs to Interview

Dave Clawson, Head Coach, Wake Forest
All indications suggest Clawson isn’t in any hurry to leave Wake Forest. However, Nebraska would be wise to at least inquire. Clawson is arguably one of the nation’s most underrated coaches after going 53-48 with the Demon Deacons since ’14. As he proved at Fordham (29-29), Richmond (29-20), and Bowling Green (32-31) prior to Wake Forest, Clawson is known as a program builder.

Dave Doeren, Head Coach, NC State
Doeren spent time as an assistant at Kansas and Wisconsin before taking over at NC State, so he’s certainly familiar with this territory. The Kansas native went 23-4 in two seasons at Northern Illinois (2011-12) and is 66-49 at NC State since ’13. The Wolfpack have won at least seven contests in seven out of the last eight years.

Luke Fickell, Head Coach, Cincinnati
Fickell has extensive ties to Big Ten territory as an Ohio native and a former Ohio State player. Also, all of his coaching experience at the collegiate level came in Ohio, and he thrives at recruiting and developing talent. Fickell is 49-16 at Cincinnati since ’17 and guided the program to an appearance in the CFB Playoff in ’21.

Lance Leipold, Head Coach, Kansas
With a track record of turning around programs, Leipold would seemingly be a great fit in Lincoln. The Wisconsin native is familiar with the state as well, as he had a stint as an assistant at Nebraska-Omaha from 2004-06. Leipold went 109-6 at Wisconsin-Whitewater from 2007-14 and finished 37-33 at Buffalo from 2015-20. The Jayhawks went 2-10 in Leipold’s first year (2021) but showed marked improvement. Kansas is 2-0 in 2022 and looks much improved overall.

Chris Klieman, Head Coach, Kansas State
Klieman is another coach who fits the mold of a program developer. The Iowa native was hired as North Dakota State’s coach prior to 2014 and proceeded to go 69-6 with four FCS titles. Since taking over at Kansas State in ’19, Klieman is 22-16 overall and guided the program to two eight-win seasons. K-State isn’t an easy job, but Klieman has found the right formula.

Mark Stoops, Head Coach, Kentucky
Stoops has ties to Big Ten territory as a former Iowa player (and as an Ohio native). He’s also got experience in rebuilding programs. Kentucky posted three consecutive losing seasons (2013-15) after his arrival but has recorded winning marks in five out of the last six years. Stoops is 61-53 overall and has posted two 10-win seasons in Lexington.

Former Head Coaches…Should Nebraska Give Them a Call?

Bronco Mendenhall, Former Virginia Coach
Mendenhall stepped down at the end of the 2021 season at Virginia. Could he be lured back to the sidelines? He went 99-43 at BYU from 2005-15 and recorded a 36-38 mark at Virginia from 2016-21. Although Mendenhall had a losing mark with the Cavaliers, 10 of those defeats came in his first year and he guided the team to four bowl bids in the last five seasons.

Urban Meyer, Former Jacksonville Jaguars Coach
You never say never, but it seems unlikely Meyer will take over at Nebraska. His name will come up at every big-time opening, however.

Dan Mullen, Former Florida Head Coach
Mullen’s tenure at Florida ended with a 5-6 disaster, but he’s likely to get another shot at an FBS program in the near future. He went 69-46 at Mississippi State from 2009-17 and accumulated a 34-15 mark at Florida from 2018-21.

You Never Know..

Deion Sanders, Head Coach, Jackson State
It's a longshot Coach Prime will be on the sidelines in Lincoln. But he's going to get more looks at the FBS level if he keeps winning at Jackson State. The Tigers are 16-5 since he took over in '20.