Miami University Coaching Candidates: A Quick Look

Jim Tressel has been linked to the Miami job by a Cleveland radio host. Does "we suck" count as enough to show cause? - Matthew Stockman

Miami University is searching for a new head coach after firing Don Treadwell midway through the season. Here are a few possible candidates.

Miami University head coach Don Treadwell was fired after an 0-5 start this season, making for a record of 8-21 in just over two years, despite inheriting a MAC champion team when he took the job. Miami athletic director David Sayler has made it clear that he hopes to have a replacement hired as soon as possible -- in fact, he's down to eight to ten candidates, though only he and the search committee know who they are. So here, in no particular order, are a few names that have shown up on the rumor circuit. (And by that, I mean someone has actually reported these people as being connected to the job, not just wishful thinking from message boards.)

Jim Tressel

Might as well get the biggest name out of the way first. Nick Camino of WTAM-AM in Cleveland tweeted that an unnamed source has suggested Tressel may be coaching in Oxford next year. The sweatervested one is familiar with Miami; he spent two years coaching the wide receivers and quarterbacks under Tom Reed. (Among his charges as wide receiver coach was some guy named Don Treadwell, who was later an assistant of Tressel's at Youngstown State.) Who knows whether this rumor has any truth to it, but there it is.

The obvious obstacle to hiring Tressel would be his show-cause order, which doesn't expire until 2016. And I'm pretty sure "we really suck right now" doesn't count as sufficient cause to hire a sanctioned coach. In any event, if Miami were to hire Tressel, he'd have to sit out the first five regular season games of his return, as well as any postseason games (e.g., a MAC Championship game or a bowl game). But if Miami wants to make a splash, this is the way to do it. Jim Tressel would have the chance to make Miami the #1 choice for most of Ohio's MAC-level talent from day one, and goodness knows he's a proven winner.

Ron Zook

Zook is the other big name to surface in Miami coaching news. Although he doesn't have the crystal football to his name that Tressel does, he is a star recruiter who provided the backbone of Urban Meyer's first national championship team, and he managed to actually get Illinois to a Rose Bowl -- no small feat itself. Zook, a former defensive back and team captain at Miami, obviously fits the "Miami Man" mold that some influential donors (mostly a small group of football alumni) insisted on filling with Treadwell. But he would undoubtedly bring a track record of success and on-field intensity that Treadwell couldn't hope to match. The real question is whether Zook wants to get back to coaching at all. He's currently working in business development for a bank in Florida, and for all we know, is plenty happy with the semi-retired life.

Aaron Kromer

The current Chicago Bears offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, Kromer has plenty of experience at Miami, playing in Oxford under Tim Rose, then spending eight years as a Redskins assistant under Randy Walker before making the jump to Northwestern and then the NFL. There are two knocks against Kromer. First, he's rumored to make over a million dollars a year with the Bears, so for Miami to afford him, Kromer has to really want to coach the RedHawks, as opposed to interviewing for NFL coaching positions this offseason. Second, Kromer doesn't have any head coaching experience at any level, a trait David Sayler has said he considers very important in the search (though it doesn't sound like the lack of head coaching experience would be a dealbreaker).

Kerry Coombs

Coombs, a defensive backs coach for Ohio State, has deep ties to southwest Ohio. He coached at Colerain High School for many years, turning the team into a state power with a bruising triple option running attack. He parlayed that success into a position at Cincinnati, where he coached defensive backs, served as recruiting coordinator, and was Butch Jones' assistant head coach. (Coombs is rumored to have turned down the chance to move to Notre Dame with Brian Kelly.) And Coombs' son, Brayden, was a four-time letterman for the RedHawks, setting a school record for receptions in a game with fourteen (14!) as a senior against Buffalo.

Tom Herman

Another Ohio State name, Tom Herman is currently the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Buckeyes. His pedigree reads like former Miami coach Mike Haywood's: he's coached under Mack Brown and Urban Meyer, and he has connections all across the country, having stops in California, Texas, Iowa, and Ohio on his resume (in contrast to a guy like Coombs). Herman is a hot up-and-coming name in the coaching world, and could help restore Miami's "Cradle of Coaches" reputation if he's able to rebuild the program and move on to bigger things. (There's nothing wrong with moving on; that's why Miami is the Cradle of Coaches, not the Destination of Coaches.) One key plus for Herman: he coached at Rice when David Sayler was an assistant AD for the Owls.

D.J. Durkin

As Spencer Hall of Every Day Should Be Saturday (the best damn blog on the planet except for this one) can tell you, Florida's offense is abysmal. Terrible. Awful. Terribawful. So it's a good thing D.J. Durkin doesn't coordinate Florida's offense. Instead, he oversees the fifth-best total defense in college football, a unit that has been a very bright spot in an otherwise embarrassing season for the Gators. Durkin has served as an assistant under both Will Muschamp and Urban Meyer, and like Herman, he's a hot name who will likely use the Miami job as a stepping stone. Durkin also has a reputation as an excellent recruiter, and, like Herman, has personal experience with Sayler: their paths crossed when Durkin was a Meyer assistant at Bowling Green and Sayler was an assistant AD for the Falcons.

Eric Wolford

The advantage to hiring a lower-division head coach is that you can preview what his assistants will look like instead of hiring him to find out. (No way John Klacik would have been hired at Miami if Brad Bates had gone with an established coach instead of Treadwell.) So speaking of Youngstown State, there's current Penguins head coach Eric Wolford. He's turned the program around from the last few years of Jon Heacock's tenure, and he has YSU up near the top of the Missouri Valley Football Conference again. Wolford, who played and coached for Bill Snyder at Kansas State, also coached under Steve Spurrier, Jim Leavitt, Ron Zook, and Mike Stoops. He's spent the majority of his career as an offensive line guru, which can only help Miami's absolutely dismal line play the past few years. And we get an idea of who he'd bring along: offensive coordinator Shane Montgomery, tight ends coach Mark Mangino, defensive coordinator Joe Tresey (who has experience throughout the MAC and various Big Six programs), and the remaining stoops brother, Ron Jr., at linebackers coach. Of course, Montgomery's previous time as offensive coordinator in Oxford worked out pretty well for the RedHawks. Wolford and staff would likely be able to hit the ground running.

Bob Stitt

Remember when Arcade Fire won big at the Grammys in 2011 and a lot of people were confused? Well, right now you may find yourself thinking, "Who the **** is Bob Stitt?" He's the coach at the Colorado School of Mines. ("What the **** is the Colorado School of Mines?" The second most famous thing in Golden, CO, that's what.) He's probably best known among the Internet set that follows Mike Leach and Dana Holgorsen; Leach invited the very innovative Stitt to his famed "one-back clinic" that has featured coaches like Leach, Holgorsen, Hal Mumme, Kevin Sumlin, and Sonny Dykes in the past. Stitt took a Mines job that was considered career suicide and turned the team into perhaps the most dynamic offense in college football. His offensive schemes proved so effective that Holgorsen appropriated them to great effect in West Virginia's 70-point Orange Bowl win over Clemson; Stitt rather famously watched the game and told his wife every time the Mountaineers ran the fly sweep, a play he invented. And Stitt accomplished all of this at a school of 5,200 engineering majors where the average SAT score is 29 -- no small feat, and something that should especially appeal to those who view Miami as a cut above academically.

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So there you have it: some names to keep an eye on as Miami gets closer to a coaching hire. Of course, we'll probably turn out to be totally wrong and the RedHawks will hire Lane Kiffin or something.

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