Top Pick: Mario Cristobal
Current Position: Alabama Offensive Line Coach
Head Coaching Record: 27-47
In the last two searches for a head coach, North Texas has hired a successful Texas high school head coach in Todd Dodge and a former Big 12 head coach in Dan McCarney. Both bottomed out miserably. The Mean Green hired these guys due to their ability to recruit the state of Texas. I think they go in a different route and hire current Alabama offensive line coach and former FIU head coach Mario Cristobal. Cristobal did wonders with the FIU program, taking them to two bowl games in five years and is known to be a great recruiter. He has already shown he can rebuild a program and will have a lot more advantages working in his favor than he did at FIU.
Sleeper: Derek Dooley
Top Pick: Jeff Traylor
Current Position: University of Texas Special Teams Coordinator and Tight Ends Coach
Head Coach Record: 0-0 (College) 175-26 (High School)
Given UNT's past experience with pulling a guy straight out of the high school ranks I could see some apprehension in hiring a guy with just a year's worth of college coaching experience. Traylor spent the last 15 years amassing a 175-26 record at East Texas powerhouse Gilmer before accepting a position on Charlie Strong's staff at UT. UNT needs to recruit East Texas with a fury and few names demand respect in the region like Traylor's does. He'll also provide an explosive offense that establishes a power run game out of spread formations. Traylor should be attainable as he's only making $245,000 at UT.
Sleeper: Craig Naivar
Top Pick: Bruce Barnum
Current Position: Portland State Head Coach
Head Coach Record: 4-1
The smart thing to do would be to pick a big name, a famous name (something SMU doesn't have) who can take advantage of the wide recruiting options and take advantage of one of the most populous student bodies in the state (something TCU doesn't have). The most famous name right now in Denton is...Bruce Barnum. Yes, that's right. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. This is his second year at Portland State, and he's developed a monster defense in only a short time there. This is coming off of being an offensive coordinator before he got the gig. He has proven he can beat FBS-level competition, and there is certainly name recognition.
Texas Ties: NONE WHATSOEVER. That's what makes him so great! He won't repeat earlier mistakes! Too much knowledge can be a burden (witness UD's pre-season CUSA preview).
Sleeper: George W. Bush
Top Pick: Major Applewhite
Current Position: Offensive Coordinator/QB Coach at Houston
Head Coach Record: 0-0
First off, awesome name. Anyone who names their child "Major" is setting them up for long-term success. Applewhite should be one of the top choices for North Texas as they search for their new head coach. From a recruiting standpoint, Applewhite has strong ties to the state of Texas dating all the way back to his playing time with the Longhorns from 1998-2001. During his time coaching at the University of Texas, Applewhite played a major (get it?) role in the recruitment of Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray. Both were five star recruits during their time in high school. Aside from recruitment, Applewhite has proven his value as a member of a coaching staff. Other than working under coaches Mack Brown and Nick Saban, Applewhite has helped programs such as Texas, Rice, and Houston. His first and only year at Rice resulted in their first bowl berth in 45 years.
Sleeper: Jeff Traylor