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Andy Staples Lists Chris Klieman, Lance Leipold and Dave Aranda as Potential Northwestern Targets

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Just one day after Northwestern fired Pat Fitzgerald as head football coach, the rumor mill is already buzzing over who could be the next head man for the Wildcats.

On3’s Andy Staples wrote on Tuesday about how desirable he believes the Northwestern job is given it’s in the Big Ten, which is now being dubbed as the Power 2, along with the SEC.


Staples suggests that that status alone would make the opening worthy of potential interest from current Big 12 coaches, including three in particular that Staples listed in his article.

Staples writes, “Plug in Baylor’s Dave Aranda or Kansas State’s Chris Klieman or Kansas’ Lance Leipold for the same reasons. All are accomplished coaches at the Power 5 level who don’t have access to the funds of the Power 2 level.”

There may be some truth to not having the “Power 2” funds, however, what Staples may not be factoring enough into consideration is the fact that the Big Ten will be moving to a division-less format in 2024, meaning the days of Northwestern having a chance to reach a Big Ten Championship game in a weak division are over.

Northwestern may have more funds, but does that given them a better chance to win a conference title, or reach a College Football Playoff, than Baylor, K-State or Kansas in the Big 12. Heck, K-State won the darn thing last year. And in an expanded 12-team Playoff, the Wildcats would have made the event last year.


Aranda is a year removed from winning the Big 12 Championship and would have also found his team in an expanded 12-team playoff in 2021. And what Lance Leipold has done in just two years at KU would suggest they are far more likely to reach the promise land than Northwestern in the next five years. Not likely, but more likely than Northwestern trying to get through Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and others.

Granted, money talks. And if Northwestern throws some of that Big Ten money at a Big 12 coach, it’s not impossible they wouldn’t be up for the challenge. But suggesting that if all else is equal it would make sense for any of these coaches? I don’t see it.

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