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Posted at 3:18 PM ET, 12/23/2010

Terps coaching search part 2 - My wish list

By Rick Nelligan

I'm sure those of you who read my post on Mike Leach are saying, "So wise guy, if not Mike Leach then who?" Well I can't tell you exactly who it's going to be. And unfortunately, if I was going to guess right now, I'd have to say it is going to be Leach. Although, you can bet your favorite Christmas present that I have a wish list of the other guys I'd rather it be.

Honorable Mention

Mike Locksley (New Mexico head coach) - I don't believe he is head coach material as he's gone 2-22 at New Mexico so far. But if athletic director Kevin Anderson could convince him to come back home to Maryland as the offensive coordinator and focus on recruiting, it would upgrade the Terps from an ACC power to a national power.

Tyrone Willingham (former Notre Dame head coach) - His name was thrown around in some of the early speculation I read, but he's never proven to be a great recruiter or coach. I don't want him at all.

Ken Niumatalolo (Navy head coach) - He seems to be an excellent coach and truly cares about his players. I think he values coaching at the Naval Academy too much though, and I don't want to see the triple option in College Park.

Kyle Whittingham (Utah head coach) - Fantastic coach with a 58-20 record and has ties to Under Armour. Seems to be waiting on the upper-echelon programs to come knocking so it's doubtful the Terps would have a chance.

#4: Mike Tice - Chicago Bears offensive line coach

Positives: There are two attributes that stand out to me above all else when it comes to Mike Tice - he is a Maryland alum and has NFL ties, both of which could make him an excellent recruiter in this area, something that the Terps have lacked since the early 2000s. He also has head coaching experience and has been at the helm of some very good offenses.

Negatives: Tice has never held a coaching job in college, so speculating that he could be a great coach and recruiter for the Terps is exactly that, speculation. The Bears offensive line has also been embarrassed and extremely inconsistent with him at the wheel this season, though there is a lack of talent. Tice almost seems like Ralph Friedgen 2.0 - a Maryland alum, coached in the NFL, offensive minded, etc... While I love "Fridge," I doubt Kevin Anderson is looking for his stunt-double.

Analysis: I've liked Tice ever since he took over in Minnesota in 2001, so I do have a small bias. I believe Tice would consider a return to College Park when you consider he has a middling job in the NFL, not to mention the ties he has to the university. He could be successful with the Terps, but the lack of buzz surrounding his name so far tells me there's little chance he would be the guy.

#3: Kevin Sumlin - Houston Cougars head coach

Positives: An up-and-coming coach and fantastic offensive mind who has been courted by some high profile programs. His team reportedly loves to play for him and he is said to be an excellent recruiter. Sumlin could translate this recruiting prowess to the D.C. area. Not the sexiest name out there, but after he integrates himself with the media he would be loved in the D.C. area and could fill up Byrd in a short period of time.

Negatives: Sumlin has no ties to the east coast, much less the D.C. area. Also had a less than stellar season last year only winning five games. After Sumlin turns the Terps into a consistent winner, he could use Maryland as a stepping stone to another program.

Analysis: Before this past season, I would've said the Terps had no shot because he would've been gobbled up by an upper-echelon program. The biggest reason he struggled last season was because his Heisman candidate quarterback missed most of the season; something most programs struggle to recover from (see: Texas, Florida). I think the Terps have a shot if we're aggressive enough.

#2: Randy Edsall - Connecticut Huskies head coach

Positives: He's one of the most respected football coaches in the nation. Edsall was reportedly in the running for high profile jobs already this offseason, such as Miami and Florida. He has transformed UConn from an FCS (1-AA) program into a Big East champion. He is very fiery and his players seem to love to play for him. He has coached on the east coast his entire career.

Negatives: There could be an unforeseen reason that other programs such as Miami and Florida passed him over. Even though UConn won the Big East, it's a lot like being the fastest offensive lineman - sure it's nice but does it really matter? He hasn't lit the world on fire when it comes to recruiting.

Analysis: There was a rumor going around that Edsall threw his name into the hat to become Maryland's next head coach. Even though he hasn't had top-five recruiting classes, he hasn't had the greatest resources at UConn to do so. Maryland seems to be more committed than ever to winning, especially financially, which I'm sure he could put to good use.

#1: Gus Malzahn - Auburn Tigers offensive coordinator

Positives: Gus Malzahn is the hottest name among coordinators in the country. He has produced some of the top offenses in the country every season that he's been in college football, whether it was at Arkansas, Tulsa, or Auburn. Players love to play for him and consistently sing his praises. Has the kind of name that could recruit exceedingly well in the D.C. area and effectively push programs such as Penn State out. Also has a tie to Under Armour as Auburn is also sponsored by UA.

Negatives: I seriously doubt he would treat Maryland as a long term situation, rather as a stepping stone to bigger and better things. He hasn't been a head coach yet in college, but he has been a head coach of high school teams.

Analysis: I actually believe we have a decent chance of landing Malzahn if we push hard enough. He did just recently turn down Vanderbilt, but Maryland is a markedly better program in a much better situation than Vandy. The Terps feature a fertile recruiting area with no local rivals, an AD that is committed to winning sooner than later, and a relatively talented team already in place. While he likely wouldn't stay for long, he could do absolute wonders for the program while he is here.

So there you have it ladies and gentlemen. What do you think about the list? Who's your favorite and who did I leave off? I'd love to get the pulse of Terrapin Nation.

On a side note, I wanted to take a minute to thank all of you who have been reading and supporting my blog as well as Box Seats in general. Box Seats is written solely by fans, for the fans. We do it because we love these teams just as much as you do and love to write about our perspective and read what you guys are thinking about as well. I sincerely appreciate you all, and hope you all are having a wonderful holiday season and wish you all the very best in the New Year.

By Rick Nelligan  | December 23, 2010; 3:18 PM ET
Categories:  Rick Nelligan, Terps  | Tags:  Rick Nelligan, Terps  
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Comments

Enjoyed your analysis - I do not think that I could stand "pirates" for an extended period of time, regardless of Leach's other issues, just too juvenile.

Of these, I am in the Mike Tice / Locksley camp.

I remember the days of jumping coaches, Lou Saban, Bobby Ross, etc., and value the MD connections.

Remember, after Ralph's early year successes with MD, word got our that he was interviewing for jobs and his players gave him loads of deserved grief.

Regardless, I hope the AD has done his homework.

Posted by: richardj1 | December 23, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

It's been written elsewhere that Mike Tice does not have a college degree. That would make him ineligible to become a head coach at UMCP...

Of the other three listed, Kevin Sumlin would be the best fit. However, he's not a name that will excite the fanbase into buying tickets, which is what this is all about...

Posted by: JoeyRamone | December 23, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Well, Rick, now you've done it. Hire the coach of the worst team in college football (UNM)...or the worst black coach in college football (just hire Randy Shannon if you want a black coach...at least he won more than he lost)...or maybe Tice could show the players how to sell their bowl tickets (like his Super Bowl tix)...or maybe take them out on a boating spree with some strippers; Kevin Sumlin...an offensive genius? He hired Dana Halgorsen to run his offense (Mike Leach student for 7 years)...when Halgorsen went to Okie State, He hired Cliff Kingsbury as his OC (Mike Leach's QB at Tech for four years)...why not just hire the teacher...not the student? Gus Malzahn? Take Cam Newton away from that offense and what do you have? Ask Houston Nutt about Malzahn when he fired him at Arkansas halfway through the season.

Maryland hasn't a chance at Edsell or any of the others...just hire Mike and get on with winning

Posted by: Texascane | December 23, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Mike Leach > That whole list combined. Leach put out winners every year in the Big 12 South, has an impressive graduation rate, and he will fill the stadium. Plus he isn't a flight risk because of his relationship with UA.

And you would rather have a bad NFL line coach, a non-AQ coach who didn't make a bowl this year, and a guy who will bolt to a bigger program at the first taste of success? Edsall is the only legitimately good candidate you mention, and he is still miles behind Leach.

Posted by: JerZTerp08 | December 23, 2010 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Rick you have really missed the boat here. Leach may be the best coach in all of college football...keep in mind he had 10 winning seasons in a row at Texas Tech..are you kidding me!! The guy is a genius, and just because he does not fit into your tiny world you can't see the big picture. If TT had handled his leaving in the same manner as Maryland just did, there would be no issues with Leach. He did an awesome job for 10 years. Who else can match his record in wins, graduation rate, offense, creativity etc. With better players his teams might get 600 yds avg per game....all your other choices are way below Leaches level..rethink it Rick, you don't know all the facts.

Posted by: saburns | December 23, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

I would hope someone would give Mike Leach a chance. He is kind of a strange guy, but from the beginning the folks at Texas Tech clashed. The BOR had him followed by a private investigator early on. This made him stubborn about things, and made the BOR even more stubborn. There is also the Mormon factor. It is well known that TT boosters made racial slurs about Rich Rodriguez, the first candidate; believe me they hate Mormons more than Mexicans in West Texas. The thing I would worry about is if he left the school better or worse when he left, and there's no doubt that Texas Tech was better when he left. Maryland should give him a chance if he's the best candidate.

Posted by: Red6 | December 23, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

I'll admit, like Cakes from the Sports Junkies on 106.7 I can be in a box sometimes. I'm not a fan of pass first, pass all the time offenses. I'm a big fan of balance and controlling the ball.

I understand that not everyone loves the people on my list. And by the way, for those saying I'm campaigning for Locksley as our next head coach, please notice he is in the honorable mention category and read my comment.

The biggest question I have with one of the comments pertains to when Texascane mentioned that you take away Cam Newton from Auburn and they're nothing special. You should look at Malzahn's stats everywhere he's been.

In 2006 with Arkansas his offense was 20th in total yards and 31st in points scored. In 2007 with Tulsa his offense was first in the country in total yards, and 7th in points scored. In 2008 with Tulsa his offense was again first in the country in total offense and 2nd in points scored. Then in 2009 with Auburn (without Cam Newton) his offense was 16th in total yards and 17th in points scored. The year before he arrived in Auburn (2008) the Tigers ranked in the 100's in both categories. He is arguably the top offensive mind in college football today.

Posted by: gnelligan1 | December 23, 2010 8:48 PM | Report abuse

Clearly, if we don't get Leach, the new coach, whoever it is, will be
a big downgrade from Ralph Friedgen. We've thrown away a PROVEN, hard working, dedicated man who loves Maryland, just because he was not a great recruiter. Under the circumstances, you better get a VERY good replacement.

Prediction 1: if we don't get Leach, AD Anderson will be fired within two years.

Prediction 2: Ralph is gonna show up somewhere else in the ACC as offensive coordinator and beat our brains out for the next 5 years.

Posted by: dlyell001 | December 24, 2010 7:28 AM | Report abuse

If you want to make a splash with a proven head coach, instead of Leach, why not go after Chris Peterson of Boise St.. Perhaps he's looking to move to a BCS conference, is tired of trying to prove how good his program is compared to the 'big boys'.. How much is he making at Boise St, what are you looking to offer Leach, and think about it...If you can get players to BOISE, don't ya think you could get them to College Park....

Posted by: frostanna | December 24, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Why not go for the gusto and make a run at Jim Harbaugh? He has nothing more to prove where he is, and his prize QB is probably leaving anyway. I don't buy that he's looking to leap to the pros, he seems to like the college game. And given he badmouthed Michigan a few years ago do you really think TPTB there would be so prideless as to come crawling to him? (assuming they even fire RRod.) NTM in the ACC, he could be the huge fish in a somewhat big pond as it is.

Is it a long shot? Sure, but you never know til you try. What's the worst that can happen - he says no? You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.

Posted by: BMoreChil | December 24, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

You can always ask, but guys like Petersen and Harbaugh ain't never leaving those gigs to come here. Sumlin, however, WOULD probably leave C-USA to come here.

Throw these out there:
- Colts QB coach Frank Reich
- Former Kansas State coach Mark Mangino (trading one big man for another, thus preserving the Medi-Fast sponsorship)
- former Colorado HC Gary Barnett
- SMU coach June Jones (speaking of spread offense people)

Discuss! Happy Holidays, Terps Fans!

Posted by: info_stuporhighway | December 24, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Just hire Leach as HC, Locksley as OC/RC & give Brown an extension. Is it that hard?? Malzahn & Peterson are waiting for a better job, say Penn St...I love my school but I expect more. As you all should. Are you guys really telling me you were happy with an 8-4 season, losing recruits to VT/Penn ST, empty seats, The Champs Bowl??? If so, I feel sorry for you.

Posted by: dasilva_ryan | December 24, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Guys like Sumlin and Whittingham are also "pass-first" coaches who probably have non-existent running guys. I agree, why higher the student when you can hire the teacher?

Also, why do people think a young up-and-coming coach would bolt Md? Md plays in a BCS conference that can be easily dominated by a decent team (see VPI). Why not build a program and a legacy at this sleeping giant. Penn State has floundered since it went to the Big 10. I don't see it as an upgrade over Md.

Posted by: SonicBlues | December 24, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

dasilva_ryan, you are right on the money my friend! I've been saying this since this whole thing went down and don't understand why no one else has mentioned these names in these roles. Leach as HC would bring instant credibility and fan/financial support to the program, Don Brown as DC would be critical as our defense is now clicking on all cylinders and a strong defense is imperative with a spread offense, and finally Locksley as OC/RC means we get the best recruiting guy in the business with ties to the DC area. It would be a triple threat! Come on Anderson, get this done buddy!!

Posted by: terpjoboo | December 24, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

I can tell you for a fact these things:
1)Leach is a poor recruiter, his claim to fame was to perform card tricks for recruits when they come on visits. He just doesn't care about it like other big time coaches do at other schools, he is simply not interested in it.
2) He will not help in any fundraising or athletic improvements in any manner, and will only talk to alumni as a last resort. Tech had a just finished mutimillion dollar workout facility for the players that he wouldn't allow to be finished because he didn't want to raise the extra $$$ for, and he didn' want to be inconvenienced for a few weeks as the workers did their work. Guess which coach came in and immediately finished that project? Tuberville is correct.
3)He will have his agents throw out his name every year for any job that is remotely attractive, and don't forget Tech was also an Under Armour school too, so that meant nothing. Remember this, he basically told the Chancellor of Tech to go f himself, when asked to apologize to the James family, so that is how he works with his bosses. You guys can do much much better, because his baggage is huge.

Posted by: dsparks44 | December 24, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

The next HC has to do 3 things:
1. Put fannies in the seats. Every game.
2. Recruit well, especially locally. If the HC can't recruit, he better have someone who can on his staff.
3. See #1. It's not enough to win (as Ralph found out), Terps have to play exciting ball & beat better teams (Miami, Fl St, Clemson) than they did this year.

Not sure if Leach can do all 3, but he's an intriguing candidate. And I think he'd stay put in CP if he's successful here.

Posted by: nyskinsdiehard | December 24, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

"Tyrone Willingham (former Notre Dame head coach) - His name was thrown around in some of the early speculation I read, but he's never proven to be a great recruiter or coach. I don't want him at all."

If Ty Willingham even gets an interview for this job, then we know that U-MD's overcommitment to diversity has gone far past the point of simple affirmative action and to the point of outright discrimination against non-minorities.

Posted by: Barno1 | December 24, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

One name you left off the list is Brian Billick. Can you imagine the buzz that would create? If you think Tice's NFL experience would impress recruits, how about a Super Bowl champion? And Billick does have college coaching experience as well, having been the OC at Utah State and assistant HC at Stanford. I don't know if he'd be interested in the job, but he has lived in the area long enough, and might be intrigued by the challenge of collegiate coaching.

One other big target could be Jim Harbaugh. Why would he leave Stanford to come to Maryland? Maybe he wouldn't -- but the fact that his bro coaches right up the road might pique his interest. He has proven that he can compete at the national level, and would also put fans in the seats.

Posted by: SmittyATL | December 24, 2010 9:05 PM | Report abuse

1st - I am a Post subscriber and also read on-line edition, particularly this past week while on holiday travel and following the events at UMD. I am a UMD grad and football season ticket holder. I have not previously noticed Box Seats and like it and your posts. I have previously commented this past week on how I thought KA handled this decision extremely poorly. After reading through your arguments, all the posts here and previously, I think UMD/KA has made their bed so to speak and has to hold its nose and offer Leach the job - assuming he will take it. I think the next coach is likely a transition coach anyway - one that could hopefully improve on field, recruiting and with butts-in-seats (KA's criteria)and the guy after this guy choice will be easier because of it. I personally am OK with a program that competes on field in ACC, occasionally competes for ACC title. Ask yourself this - how many consistently "great" Div 1 football programs are there? Let's look at the best in ACC - VA Tech Hokies. They consistently win ACC and have been yammering about "going to the next level" for years. I picked Stanford in the bowl pool... It is hard to do and UMD would in my mind be doing great if you have (like Ralph and Gary) a coach with great integrity, is a good coach, can recruit adequately, is passionate about the team, their job, and the Terps (like Ralph and Gary, and can compete at high levels within their conference and occassionally beyond. I am not sure your list has that guy, so let's go with the high-profile, controversial interim guy, then let him move on in 3 years.

Posted by: jyl1st | December 25, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Here's my take on your picks:
Locksley: was good when he was here. Definitely not HC material, although he might not want to come back with somebody else.
Willingham: I thought you wanted us to get better...
Niumatalolo: not going to leave Navy for a while.
Whittingham: with Utah changing conferences, he may stay for a little longer.
Tice: Really?
Sumlin: probably holding out for a bigger program like Fla.
Edsall: I thought you wanted to put more people in the seats. UConn can't even give away tickets to the Fiesta Bowl.
Malzahn: best possibility of the bunch, but same issue with Sumlin in that he could hold out for a better school.

In short, MD needs to get Leach, keep Brown as DC and get Locksley as OC. If for nothing else than to save Andersen's neck...

Posted by: ecglotfelty | December 25, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

i hope they at least talk to billick-that could be a real nice fit if he is up for it. i like leach's style of football, but it's foolish to ignore the running game. and a lot of extracurricular attention is not helpful to a college program.
i would also, if it's not billick, like to see a md alum in the job-wonder if randy white would give it a shot with a top shelf staff to back him up?

Posted by: avanti77 | December 26, 2010 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Um....how can you write in your previous post, "Stay away from the loony bin" in regards to Mike Leach and then immediately suggest Mike Locksley, who not only has had problems with the EEOC, but HIT ONE OF HIS OWN COACHES?

Posted by: StinkaDare | December 27, 2010 7:28 AM | Report abuse

The Adam James story is very controversial and according to reports, he was cleared medically to practice so Leach didn't necessarily do something wrong in my opinion. While all of the stuff against Leach has been published, players of that team were not fans of James and said he was using his name just to get in there and slacked off. While Leach might be a lighting rod with the media, he did handle the national attention very well that year at Texas Tech and I don't see Kevin Plank paying - or excuse me; making a large donation to the athletic department - for anyone else.

I am a Sumlin supporter though and Edsall would be a nice addition and I think he would be #2. I actually think we have a shot at Whittingham.

Something else to consider. Butch Davis took the North Carolina job because the gauntlet in the ACC is easier to get through than the Big 12, 11, 10 and SEC. I would imagine most coaches would see that and was surprised Franklin jumped but I think everyone knew he was not getting this job though he had done nothing wrong not to deserve it.

Also, I'm not on the Mike Tice and Mike Locksley bus at all. Locksley has been more of a nightmare than Leach and he's in New Mexico. While he might be a great recruiter and good offensive mind, I'm sure Leach has someone else to bring in. Keeping stuff in family is great but I doubt anyone will be back here from the Fridge era minus Don Brown and Tice got embarassed in Minnesota and while he's moved on, you really have not heard his name in the NFL much and has almost been AWOL. I am a Brian Billick fan though he would probably go to the NFL before he gives college a shot and with the amount of anticipated openings in the NFL, i think that's where he goes.

Auburn's offensive coordinator would be great but a pipe dream and he probably wouldn't be available until after the national championship game and I would almost bet that we have a decision, that was already in the making.

Posted by: DiehardTerp | December 29, 2010 5:27 AM | Report abuse

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