Dennis Franchione is gone, and Texas State is getting a very late start on the coaching carousel. A few names have already been floated as to who will be Texas State's second head coach in their FBS history, some more realistic than others.
Fair warning: Aside from the names the fans will inevitably dream of, these might not be the most exciting candidates out there. But when one keeps in mind that athletic director Larry Teis has handled this situation as poorly as humanly possible (at least publicly), this list starts to look damn near realistic.
Note: This list isn't who I want. My wish list involves the roller coaster death ride of Lane Kiffin--because if Texas State football's gonna go out in a blaze of glory, they might as well do it with a coach who would be all over the Square--and Bob Stitt, because college football dadaism is the new trend. This list is a combination of who Texas State can probably get and some names that fans have been throwing around. It's certainly not exhaustive, either.
First we'll start with the list of five names floated by Keff Ciardello and Jeff Cerda at the Texas Red Zone Report.
Trent Miles, Georgia State head coach
Pros: The man McGuyvered the hell out of what was essentially a scrap of burnt out tires, a rubber band, a paper clip, and a couple of wide receivers to beat the snot out of big bad Georgia Southern in Statesboro and get Georgia State to a bowl game. GEORGIA. STATE. He also turned around a godawful Indiana State program into a state of semi-respectability in FCS.
Texas State's certainly going to be a rebuilding project post-Franchione, so Miles might have what it takes to engineer a third program turnaround.
Cons: Woof, that overall record of 27-66 isn't going to endear him to a riled up fanbase that wants to win, and win now, not three years down the road. Although Georgia State and Indiana State were both disasters when Miles inherited them, taking a risk on a coach who has had one good FBS season won't sit well with some.
His style of play was the polar opposite of Dennis Franchione's as well, which could mean Texas State could suffer through some rough seasons before seeing Miles's work pay any dividends. It'll take the right candidate to sell that kind of patience to an angry fanbase, and Miles might not be it.
Craig Naivar, Houston co-DC
Pros: He knows the program and was the architect behind the 2013 "Doom Squad" defense that kept Texas State afloat despite a completely moribund offense. Although Todd Orlando gets much of the credit for Houston's excellent 2015 defense, Naivar certainly played a role. If you check his Twitter, he's all about selling UH and would likely bring a fresh perspective to fans and recruits. He's got 'Rak's vote too.
Cons: Light on head coaching experience, although Texas State probably can't afford to be too picky there. He wouldn't exactly represent a total break from the Franchione coaching line, and it's hard to say how good his offensive credentials are. Would he be able to utilize Tyler Jones correctly in his senior season?
KC Keeler, Sam Houston State head coach
Pros: The man's kept up the momentum built by Willie Fritz, getting the 'Kats to the FCS semifinals. He was also a fairly consistent winner at Delaware, which included one FCS national championship in his tenure. His players like him and he's had a couple of years to get familiar with Texas recruiting.
As an added bonus for us older alumni, the Bearkat fan meltdown would be highly enjoyable.
Cons: There's the stigma of hiring an FCS coach to deal with, and it wouldn't exactly be a splash hire. He also got pushed out of Delaware because, well, the AD just didn't like him that much. Also, just how many recruiting ties has Keeler built up in his brief stint in Texas, considering he's coached most of his life in the northeast? Would he be able to survive not being able to take instant FBS transfers as he has in Huntsville?
His "flamboyant" personality would also be a bit of a clash with the current athletic department culture, which could lead to further dysfunction. Or perhaps it would be exactly what it needs?
Colby Carthel, Texas A&M-Commerce head coach
Pros: The man turned around A&M-Commerce, a previously proud program that hadn't won more than five games in one season since 2001. Sound familiar?
He also has plenty of Texas recruiting ties and knows the area. He's also young and presumably energetic. He could provide the shot in the arm this program needs.
Cons: Aside from the obvious risk of hiring a Division 2 coach to take an FBS position? He's never gotten above 10 wins or won an NCAA playoff game at Commerce, which would probably inspire more confidence to negate that obvious overriding concern.
Mike Schultz, Texas State Offensive Coordinator
Pros: Well, the offensive side of the locker room reportedly wants him. He also has 35 years of coaching experience under his belt. Schultz was also reportedly overruled by Franchione quite often on offensive playcalling, so it's hard to know exactly how good or bad his offensive judgment is. He had to have played some sort of a role in Tyler Jones's rise in the 2014 season. And he certainly knows the program.
Cons: There are quite a few. Aside from the obvious downside of playing a role in the inconsistent offensive performances from the 2015 season, he's also linked with Franchione going back to TCU, New Mexico, and SWT.
For a fanbase that's widely becoming fed up with the current state of affairs, hiring Schultz would essentially be like Illinois hiring Bill Cubit as a long term interim head coach. In other words, it'd be a punt of a hire, and conditions would be ripe for a fractured fanbase permanently splitting in two.
The Common (Safe) Suggestions
Jason Washington, Special Teams coordinator, Houston
Pros: Defensive players have already floated his name out there publicly, and it's probably not a coincidence that the secondary went from respectable to a major problem after he left for UH. Just like Naivar, he's young, he's energetic, and he's probably going places. Oh, and he's an alumnus, so there's an added loyalty bonus there if he's hired.
Cons: Same as Naivar, except he's even more green.
Travis Bush, RB Coach, Buffalo Bills
Pros: He's an alumnus, and he was offensive coordinator during the successful campaigns with human giant Bradley George at quarterback. For fans starved for a consistent passing attack and excellent receivers, Bush could represent a welcome transition. He also has the support of a number of former players around the program, for what that's worth.
Cons: Fair or not, he's inevitably linked to the Brad Wright administration in the minds of many, and that's going to earn him quite a bit of skepticism starting out from those wanting a clean break from Texas State's FCS past. Not to mention he was unceremoniously dumped after Tony Levine got tossed out at Houston.
(Some) Fans' Dream Hires
Major Applewhite, Houston OC
Pros: Instant name recognition, he'd be very close to home, and he'll inevitably pick up accolades for Houston's offensive renaissance over the 2015 season. The Bobhorns will come back.
Cons: Texas State would have to back up a conga line of Brinks trucks to afford him, as $450k a year won't cut it anymore. The OC stint at Alabama didn't go incredibly well. The Bobhorns will come back.
Kendal Briles, Baylor OC
Pros: After five years of uneven, square-peg-round-hole Franball, Bobcats fans would dream of a Briles offense lighting up football fields across the Sun Belt. He'd probably use Texas State as a stepping stone, but as Arkansas State has displayed so adeptly, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Most Bobcats would give their left arm for two to three years of winning at this point.
Cons: He's very, very green, and would be about as expensive as Applewhite, if not moreso. He could certainly be waiting to hitch his star to a better program.
Claude Mathis, SMU Running Backs coach
Pros: Instant DFW recruiting credibility, which is something Texas State hasn't always had. Young, energetic, and anybody who knows about SWT football knows the name Claude Mathis. If anyone can get generations of lost SWT alumni to come back to Bobcat Stadium, it's Mathis. Like Washington and Bush, there's also the loyalty bonus.
Cons: He's the greenest candidate of them all, having only joined the SMU staff as an assistant this year after impressing at DeSoto High School near Dallas. Hiring him would certainly pose a major risk short term.