2013 MAC Coaches
The Building Factor
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MAC Coaching Rebuild Rankings
Coach You Want To Build Around - Part 2
Picture this. You're a
beleaguered athletic director with an opening at the
top of the football organizational chart. Your
checkbook is open, and your fan base is glaring at
you with unwavering anticipation. Which of the ACCs
current head coaches would you put in charge of the
program for the next several years? Knowing that
your own job hangs in the balance, to which man
would you entrust your future? Who gets to be the
one you'd want to build around?
This is NOT necessarily a ranking of how good the
head coaches are. This is a ranking based on who
would be best to take over a program and build it
up, so age is a major factor. A coach might be
legendary, but he might not have another five years
of greatness left. So with that in mind, who are the
top candidates to run your program?
1. Dave Clawson, Bowling Green
Career Record: 89-77
At Bowling Green for four years, he's coming off a nice season and has a tremendous team returning. The defense should be the best in the MAC and there's a chance he could turn into the next Dave Doeren or Darrell Hazell and turn one big year into bigger job. The one drawback could be his one dud of a stint as the Tennessee offensive coordinator in 2008, but he redeemed himself at BGSU.
Hot Seat Status: Mild. The 2-10 2010 season put the heat on a little bit, but his teams responded in a big way. Known as a top offensive coach, he showed the ability to change and adapt to turn the Falcons into a defensive star. Extremely smart and highly successful at Richmond, there's upside.
The Coaching Change Will Come … within three years. He's at the point in his career, like most MAC coaches, where he has to parlay any success into a step up.
2. Matt Campbell, Toledo
Career Record: 10-4
Within about ten minutes of hiring Tim Beckman, Illinois figured out it might have brought in the wrong coach from Toledo. Campbell is only 33, extremely creative and upwardly mobile. He rose up the ranks in a big hurry and had a great first season with prospects for bigger things this year. While he might need one more year to get a next-up gig, he's becoming extremely hot.
Hot Seat Status: Mild. He can afford one bad year as long as it's followed up by a strong one, but again, he's becoming a big candidate and Toledo has him – for now.
The Coaching Change Will Come … Next year. Name the low-range BCS program with an opening and he'll probably fill it.
3. Pete Lembo, Ball State
Career Record: 94-46
While he might not be the next Brady Hoke, he has been a wild success at every stop so far with just two losing seasons in his 12 seasons as a coach doing a terrific job at both Lehigh and Elon. Ball State needed reviving and he was able to do it with one of the MAC's best offenses. His team hasn't played a lick of defense in his two seasons, but the offense is going to be unstoppable.
Hot Seat Status: None. It's Ball State, and while it let go of former head coach Stan Parrish in a hurry, Lembo has had enough success to buy himself a few seasons.
The Coaching Change Will Come … next year. Ball State will be solid and he'll be a hot commodity on the offense alone. Only 43, he'll be ready to move up.
4. Rod Carey, Northern Illinois
Career Record: 0-1
Can he be the next big-time Northern Illinois head coach? Jerry Kill got the Minnesota job, and Dave Doeren went to NC State, so if Carey can somehow get the Huskies back to the MAC title game and keep the momentum going, he'll be off, too. The former center at Indiana is great at making offensive lines work, and now he'll get his chance after getting his feet wet in the Orange Bowl loss to Florida State.
Hot Seat Status: Toasty. At this point, anything less than a MAC championship will do in DeKalb. He has some massive shoes to fill.
The Coaching Change Will Come … within five years. Either this will work and he'll be at the right age to take a step up, or he won't be able to match the mammoth success of the past few seasons and the program will go in a different direction.
5. Paul Haynes, Kent State
Career Record: 0-0
Can he be another Darrell Hazell? The former Kent State defensive back bounced around the assistant ranks spending time at Louisville, Michigan State, Ohio State and Arkansas before coming home. Turning 44 years old this season, he's at the right age to show what he can do. With his ties to several big schools, he's on the radar after he gets his feet wet as a head man.
Hot Seat Status: Mild. There's no pressure whatsoever at Kent State – 2012 was completely out of the blue. Even with everything Hazell was able to do, Haynes will get a few years to make the program his.
The Coaching Change Will Come … within five years. There will be a dip and the success might not come flying right away, but he's considered a rising prospect who should be able to come up with the one good year needed for the next job.
6. Ron English, Eastern Michigan
Career Record: 10-38
Here's the problem: it's Eastern Michigan. It would be interesting to see what English could do at an easier place to win. The former Michigan and Louisville defensive coordinator was hot five years ago, and this was just supposed to be a cup of coffee stop before moving on to bigger things. A former defensive back at Cal, he wasn't remotely in the mix when the job became open last year after going 2-10. The 6-6 2011 season was a bit of a mirage with a few wins over mediocre FCS teams.
Hot Seat Status: It's heating up. Eastern Michigan might not be Alabama, but considering Buffalo, Akron, Miami University and Kent State have been players in the MAC over the last several years, at some point the program is going to want to try winning.
The Coaching Change Will Come … within two years. Considering he started out going winless, winning two games, six games and then two games again, anything less than five wins might mean a move. He'll go back to being a top assistant before eventually getting another shot.
7. P.J. Fleck, Western Michigan
Career Record: 0-0
The wunderkind is going to be just 33 this football season after a strong career at Northern Illinois, a cup of coffee with the San Francisco 49ers, and time as a receivers coach at both Rutgers and Tampa Bay. He's considered a top offensive mind and a star-in-the-making, and now he's going to get plenty of time to show what he can do with a good MAC program with the potential to be great.
Hot Seat Status: None. He'll get a few years to turn things around before there's any real heat. However, he can completely tank – losing seasons will be fine, but 2-10 would be an issue.
The Coaching Change Will Come … in five years. He's young with a young family; he's probably not going to move too fast. However, if he rocks out of the gate, he'll be snapped up in a hurry. There's NFL coaching potential down the road.
Coach You Want To Build Around - Part 2