4 MID-MAJOR COACHES (NOT NAMED PJ FLECK OR TOM HERMAN) TO KEEP AN EYE ON THIS OFFSEASON
A tradition unlike any other…seeing interim coaches coach mid-major teams in their bowl game as the former head coach has moved onto to a new job.
Houston became the first casualty of that syndrome, as Tom Herman accepted a job at Texas. PJ Fleck, coach of the lone undefeated team not named Alabama in Western Michigan, has also been a sexy pick among coaching pundits. However, the Group of Five conferences offer several attractive coaches for the big schools to poach from, and this quartet could fill in very solidly next season….
WILLIE TAGGART, SOUTH FLORIDA
USF football enjoyed a period of prosperity in the final years of Big East football, appearing in a bowl game from 2005-10, and even earning a ranking as high as second in the nation. However, Taggart took over a team that was reeling from Jim Leavitt’s player abuse investigation and a combined five seasons under Skip Holtz in the American Athletic Conference’s premiere years. However, Taggart, who also helped bring the Western Kentucky program back to respectability, got USF back to postseason play last year, and just got the team their first ever 10-win season and at least a share of the AAC East division title. Taggart previously served as the running backs coach at Stanford, and could find himself back at the top levels of collegiate ball soon enough.
MATT RHULE, TEMPLE
With a win over East Carolina later tonight, Temple can swipe away the AAC East title from USF. That’s thanks to the efforts of Rhule, who likewise had to help adjust a team to world of The Artists Formerly Known as The Big East. The once woebegone Owls program enjoyed much sought after success after Al Golden before he departed for Miami in 2011. After Steve Addazio bolted for Boston College, Rhule took over in 2013, enduring a 2-10 record in the first year of AAC play before improving to 6-6 in 2014. He then guided Owls football to their first 10-win season since 1979 last season, culminating in an appearance in the Boca Raton bowl. Rhule could find himself back at the big time, as he was a linebacker at Penn State from 1994-97.
CRAIG BOHL, WYOMING
Shockingly, Boise State will not appear in the Mountain West Conference’s title game this year, as the honor goes to Bohl’s Cowboys. Bohl is no stranger to championship football, having overseen the beginning stages of North Dakota State’s active monopoly of FCS football, winning national titles in 2011, 2012, and 2013. When he left the Bison to take the Wyoming reigns in 2014, Bohl tallied 104 wins in 11 seasons at NDSU, including a whopping 13-1 postseason mark. Now, Bohl has guided the Cowboys to their first winning season since 2011. He has no problem beating elite FBS competition. In the opening week of the 2013 season, his Bison pulled off an upset of Kansas State, who was coming off a Big 12 title.
BOBBY WILDER, OLD DOMINION
While some coaches have to oversee teams moving from one conference to another, Wilder had to oversee a team that was moving up an entire level…and one that was ending an almost six-decade long football hiatus. After experiencing success at the FCS level, reaching the playoffs twice, ODU entered FBS play in 2013, and this season clinched at least a share of the Conference USA East division. It will be tough for Wilder, who has spent his entire career at the FCS level, to depart Norfolk, where he has been the lone coach since the resurrection of Monarchs football. However, it’s a promotion that would be well earned for former Maine quarterback.