Mark Stoops will now be searching for Andy Buh's replacement. Yesterday, Stoops said he was looking for a linebacker coach, and someone who also has had special teams experience. There are other considerations. Buh made $325,000 per year, so any potential candidate who currently makes more is unlikely.
Additionally, we don't know if Stoops wants to diversify recruiting territory or double-down on certain areas. Personalities and relationships matter too. Stoops hired Shannon Dawson because other people in the coaching ranks Stoops had previously worked with recommended him. Undoubtedly, agents are already reaching out to him to get their guys consideration for a SEC gig.
There's a lot of unknowns, and it's also an important hire. UK's linebacker corps is very young and requires a good position coach. Meanwhile, the special teams have to get better, and also make use of Austin MacGinnis who is, for my money, the best place kicker in the SEC.
For entertainment purposes, I decided to do some spit-balling loosely based on some of the previously mentioned parameters. The first three are my top three choices.
The linebacker coach/ST coordinator at South Carolina. He is probably my personal preference. He was a linebacker coach on the best defense last season at Boston College, and had good ST units at Florida before that. He has recruited in the South and in the Northeast. I'm not sure he'd leave South Carolina since he just started there, and I couldn't find a salary so I don't know what it'd take to poach him. It'd probably be more than $325,000.
The outside linebacker coach/ST coordinator at Memphis. He would fill the exact positions Buh did which would minimize a transition at least bureaucratically. He also coached on some very good Utah State defenses. He's a veteran coach, and UK could probably poach him assuming his salary is in the $225,000 range at Memphis. How he would fit into UK's recruiting efforts is unknown. Lorig has spent most of his career out west.
The special teams coordinator at Florida International. FIU had the 17th-ranked special teams in the FBS last season, according to FEI. He previously had success coaching ST at Eastern Carolina University on Ruffin McNeill's staff, and has been coaching for 36 years. He's also coached linebackers at various points in his career. He was "only" making $187,000 at ECU two years ago.
Currently the special teams coordinator and defensive ends coach at Western Michigan. He's a young coach who has ties to Florida, and specifically high school powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas. It would be a good opportunity for a young coach to learn from Mark Stoops, and he could probably coach either outside or inside linebackers. In his single season as a special teams coach, Western Michigan had the 14th best ST, according to FEI.
He's now at Ole Miss in an administrative role, which is usually a position former coaches take while they wait for a position to open. He was previously the defensive coordinator/linebacker coach at Marshall, and several other places. He's been a ST coordinator for nine years, and would fit the mold of previous Stoop ST hires as veteran defensive coaches that double as another experienced voice during game prep (see Peveto and Naivar).
He is the linebacker coach at Tennessee, and would be a good hire if Stoops wanted to focus on hiring the best pure linebacker position coach. He would also be a very strong recruiter in the South. He makes $350,000 so UK would have to pay him more to poach him away from Knoxville. Presumably, a graduate assistant would oversee special teams during the season with the other coaches helping out.
He is currently the special teams coordinator at Penn State. He is a very good recruiter whose focus has been the the mid-Atlantic region UK has previously targeted. Downside is he coaches running backs which is redundant to UK's offensive coordinator. DJ Elliot would also have to coach both the ILB and OLB positions, and I don't think Stoops wants to go back to that arrangement. Huff is probably a good option if Gran or Hinshaw leave, and there's an opening on the offensive staff. Especially because Franklin's seat is getting warmer at PSU.
The linebacker coach at Notre Dame. He is from Ohio which could be good or bad (duplication of effort). Here's the main problem: he's already recruiting coordinator at ND, and it would be a step down to come to UK since Vince Marrow holds that title. Elston is someone to keep in mind to chase after if Marrow ever leaves. He may also be a candidate for head coach for any program that wants automatic ties to Ohio.