Dutch Lion’s Top Head Coaching Candidates for Nebraska
With the recent finality of Head Coach Scott Frost’s career as Nebraska’s head man, we now turn the page toward the next coach. With Huskers Athletic Director Trev Alberts in charge, we finally have a guy that we completely trust. I haven’t been this excited about Nebraska’s future since…
Scott Frost was hired, or Mike Riley was hired, or that time Bo Pelini was hired. Seriously, I am excited because this time Trev Alberts is making the decision. I trust Trev to fix this.
For those of you who don’t know, Trev Alberts was Dutch Lion’s favorite player growing up. Alberts burst onto the scene as a young linebacker from Cedar Falls, Iowa on the 1990 Huskers squad. Before you knew it, #34 was a relentless stud pass rusher. After years of working on his game, he ended up winning the 1993 Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker, then was drafted fifth overall by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1994 NFL Draft. I had so much respect for the guy that even though I wasn’t old enough to drink (
legally), I was already declaring that my first-born son would be named “Trev”.
After a winding career after retiring from football, which included time as both a broadcaster on ESPN’s GameDay and then also as the Athletic Director at University of Nebraska-Omaha, Trev Alberts is now University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s AD. I’m really interested to see which direction he takes with this hire.
By the way, as it turned out, my wife and I welcomed a son in 2006. We named him Trev, of course. Trev is now a 16 year old sophomore in high school. He’s a good kid, who was lucky enough to attend his first Nebraska game on his 7th birthday in 2013, which just happened to be the “Hail Mary” victory over Northwestern. I guess you could say it was written in the stars. Like Alberts, our son is a really good person and we’re proud of the young man he is becoming.
As of today, here are my guesses as to who Trev Alberts will ultimately hire, possibly as soon as this weekend after Friday’s season-concluding Iowa game.
Top Candidates to be Nebraska’s next Head Coach
- Dave Aranda/Baylor HC : Aranda went 2-7 and then 12-2 in his first two seasons as the head man at Baylor. So far this year he’s 6-5. More importantly than Aranda’s record, he has a background in the Big Ten, which is an intriguing skill. He was the dynamic Defensive Coordinator for Wisconsin from 2013 to ’15. The best quality that makes him #1 on my list is his ability to build a great defense in the Big Ten West as a DC. In addition to that resume, Dave Aranda is a devout Christian. Ultimately, AD Trev Alberts, also a devout Christian through the direction of his mentor and fatherly faithful advisor Tom Osborne, will finally give Nebraska a Head Coach that we can believe in to lead the program back to the top. And that makes him Dutch Lion’s top choice. I’m extremely impressed by Aranda and believe he will have a long, successful college coaching career.
- Luke Fickell/Cincinnati HC : Playing on the same defensive line at Ohio State with current Tennessee Titans HC Mike Vrabel, Luke Fickell is also a phenomenal head coach. Fickell started his college coaching career at his alma mater, Ohio St. In fact, you might remember him as the interim HC from the last time Nebraska beat Ohio St., which was in 2011. That was a great night by the way. But would Fickell leave Cincy now that they’re moving up from the AAC to the Big 12? He’s 48-15 in his first 6 full seasons at Cincinnati, including last year’s incredible 13-1 with a CFP appearance. Is he waiting to take over at his alma-mater once again, this time as the full-time head coach in the job that he most likely covets? Well, current OSU coach Ryan Day probably isn’t going anywhere soon, so Fickell could possibly be lured by Alberts to Lincoln… at least for awhile.
- Lane Kiffin/Ole Miss HC : One never knows with Lane Kiffin, the often controversial, one-of-a-kind head coach that seems to make enemies early and often. Of course, don’t forget his Nebraska background as the son of Monte Kiffin, who spent many years growing up in Nebraska, playing for the Huskers, and then starting his coaching career as a grad assistant and future DC for the legend Tom Osborne from 1969-’76. Could Lane have a “homecoming” of sorts?
- Lance Leipold/Kansas HC : Leipold has a fine resume of winning. He was the head ball coach at UW-Whitewater for eight years from 2007-’14. He “only” won 6 Division III National Championships over those eight seasons. Leipold is a Wisconsin-bred coach, growing up in Jefferson, Wisconsin. However, he also has history in the state of Nebraska. Don’t forget that prior to his success in Whitewater, Leipold was an assistant at Nebraska-Omaha from 1994-2000, and then a Cornhuskers assistant from 2001-’03 under HC Frank Solich. His resume is impressive, and Nebraska will have to fight off the Badgers of Wisconsin for Leipold’s services, as you’d think he’d be near the top of Wisconsin’s search to replace fired HC Paul Chryst. Of course, maybe neither Neb nor UW will get Leipold. Maybe he loves Kansas, who he’s revived which nobody thought anybody could do. No matter where he goes, or stays, you gotta believe Leipold will be successful.
- Jamey Chadwell/Coastal Carolina HC – This coach has really done quite a great job in Conway, South Carolina as the 5th year head man at Coastal Carolina. Through his first five seasons, Chadwell put up a 30-19 overall record at the Sun Belt school. Chadwell led the Chanticleers to an 11-1, #9 AP finish in ’20 and then backed it up with an 11-2 season last year, including Coastal’s first-ever Bowl victory. So far this year, he’s led Coastal to another solid season, going 9-1 (6-1 Sun Belt). If Nebraska doesn’t hire Jamey Chadwell, someone else will… and probably soon.
- Chris Klieman/Kansas State HC – Like Leipold, he thrived at the lower level. He coached at North Dakota State and ‘only’ won 69 of 75 games from 2014-’18. In his first three years at Kansas St., Klieman went 8-5, 4-6, and 8-5. This year K-State is 8-3 (6-2) and in 2nd Place in the Big 12 Conference. Like Chadwell above, Klieman will have his pick of “better” jobs if AD’s come calling.
- Matt Rhule – Recently fired as the Carolina Panthers HC, Rhule is a program-builder. He was excellent at both Temple and Baylor in fixing moribund programs with losing records, trauma, and adversity. Rhule was most recently in the NFL but it didn’t work out for him. Maybe he’s simply a college guy. In his most recent college job, he went 19-20 at Baylor over three seasons (’17-’19). He broke it all down, finishing an ugly 1-11 the first year, 7-6 in his second year, and then an amazing 11-3 in ’19 before bolting for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. Rhule’s history at Baylor almost mirrors Scott Frost’s at UCF. Like Frost, he may have been lucky. However, he also did it at Temple prior to Baylor. He went 28-23 in four years at Temple, showing rapid improvement, going 2-10, 6-6, 10-4, and 10-3 at a school known for it’s losing history. Therefore, Rhule has proven it twice. Could he do it a third time?
- Shawn Clark/Appalachian State HC – Look what this dude has done at App State. I’ve seen him interviewed and he is a coach to look out for. He could be a future star in the profession. Clark is in his 3rd season, going 9-3 and 10-4 his first two years. This year Appalachian State is only 6-5 but have lost to some hard competition including a team coached by another on this list, Jamey Chadwell’s Coastal Carolina. In fact, the Sun Belt is a solid league, a rising conference, probably because of their location (southeast USA) and these excellent coaches.
Thanks But No Thanks!
- Urban Meyer – Not a chance Trev Alberts would hire this guy who is a moral disgrace. “C’mon man!”
- Deion Sanders – He’s always been a me-first kinda guy. I mean, “Coach Prime”? He’s a selfish person. Yeah he was an amazing athlete, a great cornerback. But let’s leave it there. He’s too SWAC for Nebraska. Not a fit for Nebraska Nice. There’s no way Trev would hire this person.
- Bill O’Brien – Too fat. Too miserable. Too much of a resume-builder guy. If he had any success in Lincoln, he’d probably bolt for the next best thing. He keeps moving from job to job but he always seems upset about where he’s at. Overall he’s overrated.
We expect AD Alberts to finalize this coaching search and announce his new hire between Saturday, November 26 and Sunday, December 4. No matter who he hires, we’ll keep our fingers crossed but I think we can trust in this coaching hire. Trev wouldn’t have it any other way.
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