Six coordinators â€” other than Texas' Will Muschamp â€” whom athletic directors should have on their short list of future head coach candidates.
Gus Malzahn, offensive coordinator, Auburn. After a short and tumultuous stay at Arkansas, Malzahn went to Tulsa and unleashed an unstoppable spread offense. Auburn's Gene Chizik scooped him up last year and Malzahn turned a unit that was a mess the year before into one of the SEC's best.
Doug Nussmeier, offensive coordinator, Washington. Everywhere the 40-year-old former Idaho quarterback has been (Michigan State, Fresno State, St. Louis Rams and now UW) the QBs play well. That's a great way to get yourself a head coaching job.
Kirby Smart, defensive coordinator, Alabama. The 35-year-old won the Frank Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant for coordinating the Tide's championship defense. Georgia, his alma mater, tried to lure him away to run its defense, but at this point Smart's next move will be up.
Brent Venables, co-defensive coordinator, Oklahoma. It's a little surprising the 39-year-old Venables hasn't landed a head coaching job by now. He's been part of the OU staff since Bob Stoops took over in 1999. A Kansas State alum, maybe Venables eventually ends up there.
Mark Whipple, offensive coordinator, Miami. Was a successful head coach in Division I-AA with Massachusetts before he went to the NFL to become an assistant. The Hurricanes lured him back to school last year to develop QB Jacory Harris and revitalize their offense. Check and check. The 53-year-old drew interest from South Florida and Cincinnati when they were looking for head coaches.
Justin Wilcox, defensive coordinator, Tennessee. New Vols coach Derek Dooley seems to have scored big by wooing the 33-year-old Wilcox away from Boise State. With the Broncos, Wilcox's defenses were rarely stocked with high-level talent, but Boise State often played its best defensive games in its biggest games.