Head coaches Paul Chryst (Pittsburgh), Dave Doeren (North Carolina State), Butch Jones (Cincinnati to Tennessee), Charlie Strong (Louisville), Willie Taggert (Western Kentucky to South Florida) have either affirmed their committed to their school, taken another job turned down other offers to remain at their school or will not be interviewed.
In this edition, we take current Wisconsin defensive coordinator Chris Ash off the board, as the third-year UW assistant will head to Arkansas to lead Bielema's defense. We also are talking Jacksonville defensive coordinator Mel Tucker and Miami coach Al Golden off the list, as sources indicated to us that Alvarez will likely not interview Golden because "it's not the right fit" and Tucker said there wasn't mutual interest.
But even though we take names, we add some new names based on rumblings and sources we have talked to in the last 24 hours.
We also arrange them in order of importance in our opinion.
The Head Men
A former defensive coordinator at both Pittsburgh and Auburn, Rhoads' name is starting to gain some steam in some inner Wisconsin circles. He was raised only 20 miles outside Ames, IA, meaning he has those Midwest roots that are essential for Wisconsin.
In his first year at Iowa State, the Cyclones held three conference opponents to 10 points or less for the first time since 1965. Iowa State was 68th nationally in red zone defense in 2008. In 2009, the Cyclones ranked second-best among 120 FBS teams in that category. Iowa State's defenders were ninth nationally in turnovers forced. The Cyclones defeated the Nebraska in Lincoln for the first time since 1977 and Rhoads is the first Iowa State coach to win six games in his initial season since 1915. Iowa State capped its season with a victory over Minnesota in the Insight Bowl.
Iowa State was picked to finish last in the Big 12 North Division, but Rhoades led the Cyclones to the program's first win in Austin over Texas and finished tied for third in the Big 12 North. Last season Rhoads helped lead the program to its first win in Lubbock against Texas Tech and shocked the college football world with a home victory over No.2 Oklahoma State in November.
Rhoads' team, which was an underdog in 11 of its 12 BCS games in 2011, capped off the season in Yankee Stadium in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl in New York. For the second straight year, the Cyclones won six games, narrowly upset Kansas State, did upset then-No.15 TCU and will finish the season playing a bowl game (AutoZone Liberty Bowl Dec. 31).
On December 16, 2011, the school announced a 10-year contract worth $20M for Rhoads, but the passion he brings the table can't be denied. Rhoads is a young head coach (45) that has won big games despite not getting the biggest, best recruits.
Marrone was on the hot seat earlier this year until Syracuse won five of six games to end the year to clinch a share of the Big East title and qualified for its second Pinstripe Bowl appearance in three seasons. According to a source at Syracuse, that streak, combined with Syracuse moving to a new football conference, has made Marrone pretty secure from the Orange side of the things.
Up until this season, Syracuse was a traditional pro-style offense until they started running an up-tempo/pistol/shotgun-style offense with a little pro-style mixed it. According to that same source, that switch was all about maximize the athleticism he had on the roster; much like what Paul Chryst did as Wisconsin's OC.
Marrone was a three-year starter at Syracuse from 1983-85, so it might be a tough sell for him to leave. But with private planes flying in from Syracuse, a pay raise and a chance to coach in the Big Ten, Marrone might be on the short list.
The Big 1070 reported that Petersen was going to interview for Wisconsin's vacant head coaching job Monday. There was no meeting in Madison and Petersen, who is 83-8 in seven seasons at Boise State, was out recruiting for the Broncos that evening.
Fox Sports Next reporter Dave Berk reported to our subscribers yesterday that, according to a good source, things are not pretty at USC between Athletic Director Pat Haden and head coach Lane Kiffin. Hayden really likes Chris Petersen and felt he would have a chance to get him to USC next year. However, Hayden is afraid he'll never get the chance as he feels Peterson will take the Wisconsin job.
Our network's Boise State reporter asked a source inside the Boise State Athletic Department, who said there was "zero chance Pete goes to USC." It's widely known Petersen hates dealing with media, doesn't like big cities and all glitz and glam, but that still seems like Wisconsin would fit.
Still, Petersen will likely be a at Boise State for a long time. There's been nothing from Petersen or Boise State's end that would indicate any interest in an interview. According to our Boise State publisher, Petersen contractually has to give Boise State's AD minimum 24-hours notice of any intent to interview.
Unless something changes, Petersen will make his final appearance on our big board today.
Childress went 39-35 in four-plus seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. Minnesota won division titles in 2008 and 2009, when the Vikings made it to the NFC title game with Favre, but was fired after a 3-7 start in 2010. Childress was hired this past winter as the Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator and spent seven seasons (1999-2005) with the Philadelphia Eagles prior to joining the Vikings, where he tutored the quarterbacks for the first three years (1999-2001) and spent the final four as offensive coordinator (2002-05).
Childress has been out of the college game for 14 years, but spent nearly 20 years at the level. Childress began his coaching career at Illinois, spending the 1978 season as a graduate assistant before coaching both the running backs and wide receivers for six seasons (1979-84). He spent three years at Northern Arizona (1986-89), Utah (1990) and Wisconsin (1991-98). As the quarterbacks coach/offensive coordinator at the Wisconsin, the Badgers appeared in five bowl games, which included two Rose Bowl victories in 1993 and 1998 under Barry Alvarez.
Childress has head coaching experience (just not college head coaching experience) and the game has changed over the last 14 years. It'll be interesting to see where this goes.
Prior to posting a 28-22 record and three bowl appearances as the Hurricanes' head coach, Shannon was Miami's defensive coordinator for six seasons (2001-06). In five of those years, the Hurricanes ranked in the top seven nationally in defense while placing in the top four in scoring defense three times.
Shannon's units were in the top 20 in turnovers gained four times and twice in the top 10 in turnover margin, including topping the nation in 2001 behind an NCAA-best 45 takeaways (nine more than the next-closest school).
Shannon was named the recipient of the 2001 Frank Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant coach. During his time as a player and assistant coach at Miami, Shannon took part in three national championships (1987, 1991, 2001) with the Hurricanes. Miami won the 2001 national title in Shannon's first season as defensive coordinator. The Hurricanes led the nation in scoring defense (9.4 points per game), turnover margin (2.4) and pass efficiency defense (75.6 rating) while ranking second in pass defense (138.2 yards per game) and sixth in total defense (270.9 yards per game).
Shannon worked as an ESPN analyst during the 2011 campaign and was a linebacker coach for TCU this past season. His name has popped up for some coaching opportunities in Florida, as well, so he is definitely in the market for an upgrade.
Alvarez likes to makes hires of people that are cut from the same cloth that he is. Diaco certainly fits that bill. Promoted to assistant head coach prior to the season, Diaco has played an integral part in the Irish being ranked No.1 in the country and playing Alabama in the national championship game.
Notre Dame ranks first in the nation in scoring defense and have one of the best front sevens in the college game, led by dynamic linebacker and Heisman finalist Manti Te'o. This isn't a one year blip either, as the Irish's 2011 defense ranked in the top 50 in scoring defense (24th, 20.7), total defense (30th, 344.7), rushing defense (47th, 138.9) and passing defense (38th, 205.8).
It was only the second time since 2003 and fourth time in the last 15 seasons a Notre Dame defense ranked in the top 50 in all four categories.
Diaco's coaching career has spanned a better part of the Midwest and, like Alvarez, is a former Iowa assistant and a disciple of Hayden Fry. Diaco is evidentially ready to be a head coach, as he was a finalist for the Boston College coaching vacancy, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The move makes a lot of sense for a lot of reasons.
A long-time assistant in the state of Wisconsin, Bevell has expressed interest in the past of returning to Wisconsin where he led UW to Rose Bowls and worked with Green Bay for six years, serving three as quarterbacks coach.
Bevell helped turn the University of Wisconsin program into a national power. A four-year starter for the Badgers, Bevell helped guide the team to a 10-1-1 mark as a sophomore in 1993. The squad claimed a share of the Big Ten championship for the first time since 1962 and defeated UCLA in the Rose Bowl. Between his sophomore and junior seasons, Bevell helped UW go 18-4-2. He left Madison as the school's all-time leading passer with 19 team records and a pair of Big Ten marks. His 67.8% completion mark set in 1993 stood as the conference record until 2010, and he was a 61.4% passer for his career.
Bevell is in his second season leading Seattle Seahawks' offense after spending five seasons (2006-10) as the Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator.
Spending four seasons at Wisconsin as tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator, Rudolph had a tight end selected in three consecutive NFL drafts and recruited the states of Ohio and Pennsylvania vigorously for the Badgers.
A member of Alvarez's first recruiting class, Rudolph twice earned All-Big Ten honors as an offensive lineman and was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection. In 1993 he helped the Badgers to a 10-1-1 record, the Big Ten title and first Rose Bowl victory in school history with a 21-16 decision over UCLA. As a senior in 1994, Rudolph served as a team captain and helped lead Wisconsin to an 8-3-1 record and 34-20 win over Duke in the Hall of Fame Bowl.
Rudolph was a huge loss for Wisconsin and Alvarez is extremely fond of him. Rudolph working this past season as offensive coordinator is a huge help for him in his quest to one day run his own program. He may not be the most experienced, but he has a lot of supporters still in Madison.
In his sixth season as Michigan State's defensive coordinator, Narduzzi has developed the Spartans into one of the top defensive teams in the nation. In 2011, Narduzzi's defense had its best showing since his arrival in East Lansing. Michigan State led the Big Ten in rushing defense (100.5 yards per game), total defense (277.4 ypg.), interceptions (18) and third-down defense (.337). In addition, the Spartans ranked among the conference leaders in passing efficiency defense (second with a 113.3 rating), sacks (second with 45), tackles for loss (second with 105), turnover margin (third at +0.50 per game), red-zone defense (third at .763), passing defense (third at 176.9 ypg.), scoring defense (third at 18.4 points per game) and takeaways (fourth with 25).
This season, Michigan State can thank its defense as the only reason they are going to a bowl game, as the unit ranks 10th in the country in points allowed (16.3 ppg).
I've been told Narduzzi has not been contacted about the opening as of yet, but that's understandable with Alvarez first wanting to find a coach with experience. If Wisconsin calls, Narduzzi would certainly listen.