The Upcoming Hiring Search: Who's on deck?

Whether you felt this would be Joker's last season before the year started (like me), after the WKU debacle, or after God took pity on us in Fayetteville and instituted his own version of the Mercy Rule; the fact of the matter is, there will be a coaching search in progress in Lexington this Fall. So, in the interest of familiarizing ourselves with a few of the names that will pop up; I thought I'd gather some stats and other relevant info on a few of the names that I see in the threads most often. And provide my completely unsubstantiated by fact opinion on the likelihood of landing the coach.

This is obviously not a comprehensive list (I think Hoboat has a list that's almost 100 names long at this point!) but i thought it would be a good starting point with ten names. We can add to it as more names are suggested.

Lets start with some "Big Names."

Candidate One

The Coach Who SHALL NOT Be Named. Every discussion must include this coach. We've seen it hashed and rehashed over and over in the threads. So I'll just give you the facts.

Record: University of Louisville 41-9 cumulating in a BCS Bowl win over four years.
University of Arkansas 34-17 cumulating in number 5 national ranking.
His pro record was 3-10 in an abbreviated season with the Atlanta Falcons.

Status: Available

From a pure numbers perspective, he is the best coaching candidate available with a relevant comparable record to our situation. However, the negetives at the very least nearly equal the positives from a personal standpoint which has been discussed once or twice here. Additionally, potential openings at Tennessee and Auburn are more likely to draw his interest.

{Whew! Glad that's out of the way!}

Candidate Two

Phil Fulmer

Record: Tennessee 152-52 2 SEC titles and 1 National title. (And a nice cameo in the movie The Blind Side.)

Status: Available. Tennesse fans essentially had lost faith in Fulmer in the last few years of his tenure. They have since learned that the grass is not always greener.

Phil Fulmer fits the criteria that many fans seem to want. he is a "big name," is "instantly recognizable," and "has won in the SEC." At 62 years of age, he's no spring chicken but is the same age as Rich Brooks when we hired him. Would he take the job? I have not the faintest clue.

Candidate Three

Jim Tressel (because the name keeps coming up)

Record: Youngstown State 153-57-2 With 4 I-AA National Titles
Ohio State 94-22 With 6 Big Ten titles and 1 BCS Title

Status: Radioactive, but available.

Jim Tressel was slapped with a Show Cause penalty by the NCAA as a result of the free tattoos cover-up at tOSU. A school who hires him will be subjected to significant NCAA scrutiny. It won't happen.

Candidate Four

Jon Gruden

Record: 95-81 in 11 NFL seasons with the Raiders and Buccaneers.

Status: Earning $4.3 million/year to sit in a cushy chair and talk football on 17 Monday nights out of the entire year.

Gruden's only college coaching background topped out as a Wide Receivers coach at the University of Pittsburgh and his only tie to the SEC was as a graduate assistant at Tennessee. I see nothing in his background that makes me believe that he would be interested in a college job at all, much less a team with no tradition like Kentucky.

Candidate Five

Mike Leach

Record: Texas Tech 84-43
Washington State 2-4 (Current season)

Status: Currently in his first season as Washington State head coach.

The offensive coordinator for the vaunted Air Raid attacks of the halcyon days of the Hal Mumme administration at Kentucky. He has somewhat of an oddball reputation, but the biggest hurdle to overcome is the fact that he is in his first year on the job in Pullman. Were he 3-4 years in, the opporunity to come back to where he first made a name for himself could be quite alluring.

Candidate Six

Frank Solich

Record: Nebraska 58-19 with one national title game appearance
Ohio 57-40 in eight seasons

Status: Head coach at Ohio University currently 7-0

This is an intriguing pick. He is 68 years old (the same age as Rich Brooks when he retired) so he would not be a longterm solution by any means. He has a strong background with several successful NFL players. He did an admirable job of carrying on after Tom Osborne retired, and much like Tennessee above... Nebraska fans learned that the grass is not always greener on the other side. He has built a strong program at Ohio, and frankly its a good thing we had Kent State on our schedule this year instead of the Bobcats!!! Would he take the job in Lexington? I don't know. Does he have the qualifications? Yes. Would he excite the fanbase? I don't know.

The "Up and Comers"
These can come in many flavors. The headcoach at a small school and the OC at a big school.

Candidate Seven
Sonny Dykes

Who is he: Former Kentucky graduate assistant and Tight Ends coach under Hal Mumme with later experience under Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach. Currently head coach of Louisiana Tech.

Record: LaTech 18-13 (Currently 5-1, lost Poinsetta Bowl last year)

Status: Currently employed as noted.

Out of all the "up and comers" that get mentioned, this is obviously one that gets the most talk for many reasons. He harkens back to an exciting time in Kentucky football. His school poked into the top 25 only to fall out after losing a heartbreaker to SEC newcomer Texas A&M this weekend 59-57. His team features wins over BCS schools Illinois and Virginia this year. Would he take the job? I have to think so.

Candidate Eight
Kirby Smart

Who is he: Defensive Assistant Coach for Saban's juggernaut in Tuscaloosa.

Record: No relevant head coaching experience.

Status: AC.

Another hot commodity in the coaching circles. Smart won the 2009 Broyles Award for the nation's best assistant coach. Alabama is truly a defensive factory for professional football players and he is a major factor in that. Smart considered a move to take the same job at his alma mater Georgia in 2010, but the Bama Board of Trustees voted to double his salary and make him the highest paid Saban assistant. Certainly Smart has all the tools that we would want at UK. Would he take the job? IMHO, Unfortunately not.

Candidate Nine
Willie Taggart

Who is he: WKU head coach who's upset win over Kentucky started this whole avalanche.

Record: 14-16 in three years on the Hilltop after a tough move up a class to FBS. Currently 5-1 with the only loss against the Alabama Juggernaut (and looked better against them than SEC newcomer Missouri)

Current Status: Employed at his alma mater

Willie Taggart was a former quarterback in Bowling Green who later coached on Jack Harbaugh's staff during their D1-AA championship year. He later used his Harbaugh connections to land a job at Stanford under current San Francisco 49ers headcoach Jim Harbaugh. His teams at Western feature the same innovative running style, efficient passing offense, and hard-nosed defense that Harbaugh made famous at Stanford and later in the pros. Would he leave Western to coach in Lexington? I have no idea.

Candidate Ten
Garrick McGee

Who is he: UAB head coach. Former offensive coordinator under The Coach Who SHALL NOT Be Named.

Record: 1-5 First year at UAB

Status: Currently employed as noted.

Obviously struggling in his first year at UAB. McGee had a strong reputation as a major part of the high flying offenses at Arkansas in recent years. Would he take the job? Dunno.

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