Missouri Tigers Coaching Candidates: Top Five Wish List

    Who are the top five coaching candidates at Missouri after Gary Pinkel's resignation?

    November 13, 2015

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    After a tremendous 15-year career at Missouri with five division titles in the Big 12 and SEC, and as the head coach who took his program into a new conference that was supposed to be too big to do anything impressive, head coach Gary Pinkel is stepping down at the end of the season due to health reasons.

    The timing might seem odd considering all the drama and turmoil surrounding the university and the football team over the last few weeks, but he was diagnosed with a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in May and he said he now wants to focus on his health and spend more time with his family.

    He’ll leave as the winningest coach at both Toledo and Mizzou, going 73-37-3 with the Rockets with four division titles and a 1995 MAC championship, and with 117 victories and counting with the Tigers.

    He turned an okay program and made into one good enough to come within one victory of playing for the national title in both 2007 and 2013. With five division titles in eight years, this season has turned into a disappointment considering the recent success, but he’ll go down as a true legend at Mizzou.

    So who’ll follow in his footsteps? Five coaches who make sense for athletic director Mach Rhoades to at least consider.

    Top Five Missouri Head Coaching Candidates

    Tom Herman

    This might be a quick and easy no-brainer. No coaching candidate is hotter right now than Herman, the former Urban Meyer assistant and Ohio State offensive coordinator who’s currently making Houston rock and roll. Just 40 years old and as the rising star among offensive coaches, he not only fits what Missouri might be looking for, but he’s exactly what MU athletic director Mack Rhoades wants – before leaving to take over the Missouri gig, Rhoades hired Herman at Houston.

    Dino Babers

    Babers just makes sense in a next-step-up sort of way for his career. At 54, and in the midst of a second terrific season at Bowling Green, he’s the brains behind one of the hottest offenses you probably haven’t watched this season. Having worked at Baylor as a top assistant under Art Briles, and at Texas A&M, and at Arizona, and at UCLA, and after doing big things at Eastern Illinois and now Bowling Green, he’s more than ready – if Mizzou doesn’t snap him up, Maryland and South Carolina will be on the short list. And yes, considering the recent turmoil on campus and after all the controversy, hiring the school’s first African-American head football coach wouldn’t be a bad move.

    Craig Kuligowski

    One of the keys to Mizzou in the Pinkel era has been continuity among the assistant coaches. With running backs coach Brian Jones, defensive backs coach Cornell Ford, and defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski with Pinkel for over 20 years. Kuligowski has been the unknown star of the show, turning prospect after prospect into next-level pass rushing stars. From Aldon Smith, to Michael Sam, to Sheldon Richardson, to Shane Ray, to Kony Ealy, and on and on and on, Kuligowski has been the main man for a defense that rose up in the Big 12 and took the SEC East by storm. Would he translate into head coaching material? If it’s not Kuligowski, who’s been up for defensive coordinator gigs at other places, Jones and Ford could be considered from a continuity standpoint.

    Matt Campbell

    Missouri didn’t do too poorly the last time it hired a hot head coach from Toledo. It’s asking for way too much for Campbell to be another Gary Pinkel, but turning 36 this season, he’s everyone’s big-time prospect in the making. Is he ready for this gig, or is he due for one stepping-stone job before taking on a program that’s supposed to be an SEC powerhouse? He and his team certainly handled Bret Bielema and Arkansas okay – he’s going to get a top job somewhere after this season.

    Justin Fuente

    Just 39, the Memphis head coach and former TCU offensive coordinator – working with Andy Dalton – is on everyone’s short list. The former Oklahoma quarterback has done wonders helping turn Paxton Lynch into a top NFL quarterbacking prospect and Memphis into a factor, and very soon, he’s going to be a destination head coach who makes a big program his for the next decade.


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