There is no doubt that the three most-talked about coaches with replacing Frank Beamer have been Houston’s Tom Herman, Memphis’s Justin Fuente, and Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez. Personally, I expect that the next head coach will likely be one of those three head coaches.
However, there are some other coaches that shouldn’t be forgotten about that are sleepers to potentially end up being the next head coach of the Virginia Tech Hokies.
Alabama DC Kirby Smart
Kirby Smart has been rumored with many head coaching jobs over the years, but has stayed at Alabama as the defensive coordinator and Alabama football’s number 2 guy. Many wonder if Smart plans on staying with the Crimson Tide until Nick Saban decides to hang it up.
However, the USA Today’s Dan Wolken reported on Twitter that Smart is very interested in the Virginia Tech job. Smart is also friends with the Beamer family, and may see the Virginia Tech job as a good fit at a program that has traditionally been built on having great defenses while also being in fairly good recruiting territory.
Smart is a proven recruiter that has built great defenses, and developed many top recruits into next-level players. Smart’s lack of head coaching experience is an important risk to take into consideration because even though Smart looks like he will make a very good head coach somewhere, there is no such thing as a guarantee especially with someone who has no head coaching experience.
Will Whit Babcock be willing to take a risk on a first-time head coach? If he does that on someone, that guy will most likely be Kirby Smart.
Temple HC Matt Rhule
After having a total of six wins in 2012 and 2013 (Steve Addazio’s last season at Temple and Matt Rhule’s first year at Temple), the Owls are in the top 25 at 7-1 after a tough, close home loss to Notre Dame. Matt Rhule has led Temple to its highest point in program history this season, and is the third part of the trio of top major conference head coaching candidates out of the AAC.
One thing Rhule will be able to bring are his recruiting connections in the Northeast and New Jersey where the Hokies have been making some ground in. Rhule has also proven that he can not only rebuild a program, but also improve upon where his predecessors took the Temple program.
Rhule may be an offensive guy, but he has built his Temple teams around defense, and his style should fit fairly well with Hokie fans. However, Rhule is not the program builder that Justin Fuente has been or the type of great recruiter that Tom Herman is. Rhule may not be one of the top choices, but he seems like someone that will make a good head coach somewhere.
Toledo HC Matt Campbell
After Tim Beckman left for Illinois, Matt Campbell was promoted to be Beckman’s and the 35-year old head coach has done quite well in his four full seasons. Campbell went 9-4 in 2012, 7-5 in 2013, 9-4 again 2014, and 7-1 so far this season including a big win at Arkansas.
Campbell is one of the rising names, and has definitely proven himself over the last four years at Toledo, and is going to get a lot of interest. However, Campbell does not have much experience outside of the Midwest and away from the MAC. The jump from Toledo to Virginia Tech is also more significant for Campbell than it would be for most AAC coaches.
Campbell has proven he can continue to build on what someone else started, and has helped the Rockets continue to rise. However, Campbell may not be ready for this big of a job, and better fits for the 35-year old may be elsewhere including programs like Minnesota, Illinois, and Maryland.
Campbell has proven himself in the MAC, but this just doesn’t seem like the right time for Campbell to make this kind of jump to a program like Virginia Tech. However, he definitely has the potential to make the jump and is a name to keep an eye on.