The news of the week in the Big 12 was Baylor head coach Matt Rhule leaving for the head coaching job with the Carolina Panthers. That means the Bears are on the search for a new lead man. What direction should they go?
After Rhule turned the program around, this job is far more attractive than when he took the job, so Baylor should have some options.
We put this question to the Heartland College Sports team.
Derek Duke: Graham Harrell, USC OC; I said this a little over a year ago for the Kansas job, but I believe that current USC offensive coordinator and former Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell should be a serious candidate for Baylor. At 34 years old, he doesn’t have head coaching experience, but he has been a college coach for a combined seven years already and has proven himself as a top-notch coordinator. Back in 2017 and 2018, he helped produce top 20 offenses at North Texas and then this past season at USC he has improved the offense into a top ten passing offense and a top 35 scoring offense in just his first year in Los Angeles. Graham has Big 12 ties and is from the state of Texas and most importantly, he knows how to put points up on the board. He’s young, can recruit and is someone who I think will be the next Lincoln Riley type. I think Baylor would be an interesting fit for him.
Another name I would suggest is Luke Fickell at Cincinnati. He turned around the program there and has produced back to back eleven-win seasons there. He doesn’t have ties in the conference but there is no doubt about his coaching ability.
Cameron Brock: Joey Mcguire, Baylor Assistant; The head coaching position isn’t for everyone. There are some amazing coaches who are awful in management positions. Joey is a head coach by nature. He’s so personable, he nearly got kicked out of the Dallas Cowboys press box cracking jokes with his fellow coaches while scouting Cedar Hill’s next opponent. He’s loved by players and coaches alike. Being the associate head coach shows that Matt Rhule believed in him. To avoid missing a beat, I would recommend Baylor promote Joey Mcguire. He can coach, his ties to Texas high school football coaches will be the closest of any head coach in the nation, and the current team has already bought in. If Baylor chooses an outside coach over Joey Mcguire, they are making a massive mistake. Rhule’s work will be thrown out the window. It’s Mcguire or rebuild for Baylor.
Matthew Postins: Bill Clark, head coach at UAB; I get that Baylor fans might want to stay in-house with Joey McGuire. But if you’re looking at what Matt Rhule did for Baylor in three years, you might want to emulate that. If that’s how Baylor brass are looking at this, Clark is a fantastic choice. In five years as a head coach at Jacksonville State and UAB, he’s 45-23 and has missed the postseason just one time, which came in his first season at UAB in 2014. That year the Blazers went 6-6, so they were bowl-eligible anyway. But what happened next is why you want a guy like Clark. The University of Alabama system killed the program right after that, but a booster movement in Birmingham ended up resurrecting it two seasons later. Clark remained the head coach, and since UAB returned to FBS in 2017 the Blazers have won 8, 11 and 9 games, a Conference USA title and two C-USA division titles. He was the Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year winner in 2018. He knows how to recruit and he knows how to build a program. Give him a program like Baylor’s, with a solid foundation built by Rhule and his staff, and Clark can keep it on a successful track.
Pete Mundo: Joey Mcguire, Baylor assistant; I’m never of the belief that student-athletes should decide the next head coach. But for me, it helps tip the scales. So many current and former players are on social media promoting the idea of Mcguire taking over for Rhule. To me, this is just as much as maintaining the culture that Rhule developed in his three seasons and keeping much of that in place with this current staff. Sure, Baylor might be scared off by taking a guy who was on the sidelines of a high school field just three years ago, but they should not care. He was a star Texas HS coach at Cedar Hill and then he’s had a chance to learn from Rhule the past three seasons. He knows the Texas high school scene, which is imperative for this job. Plus, Rhule has event hinted there are several options on his staff, implying to me he thinks someone like Mcguire is ready for the job. Baylor developed something special under Rhule, and Mcguire seems like the obvious transition guy. Additionally, he doesn’t seem like a guy who would just jump for a “better” college gig.
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