Don't look now, but this is shaping up to be one of the busiest years in recent memory in terms of coaching turnover. When it's all said and done we could see as many as 17 head coaching vacancies open up in FBS college football, including 10 potential slots at BCS schools.
And as well as the Texas defense has been playing over the past month, I fully expect to see Manny Diaz's name pop up throughout the hiring season. It's impossible to say what any given school, or Diaz himself, will do, but let's take a look at the openings and speculate a little bit. We'll use a Diaz Danger Rating on a 1 to 5 scale, with 1 being no danger to 5 being high alert.
Head Coaching Openings at BCS Schools
Penn State -- Who knows what's going to happen at Penn State, but it wouldn't be a surprise if they decided to try and hire someone other than interim head coach Tom Bradley. It would be a Tier 1 elite job, but you have to wonder how much the current mess will scare off candidates. In any event, if Penn State replaces Bradley, it's hard to imagine they'll go with a first-year head coach. Diaz Danger: 1
Texas A&M -- No word on whether the Aggies will retain Mike Sherman, but following the astounding way he managed to lose 6 games this season (a new way to lose every week!), combined with the fact that the main reason the Aggies are going to the SEC is to try and gin up excitement (read: donations) for the football program, I'm skeptical Sherman will live to nap another year. Manny Diaz has experience in the SEC and after Thanksgiving the Aggies certainly know what Diaz is capable of. As much as Tim DeRuyter's star faded this year, the Aggies may find themselves eager to start in the SEC with an upgrade on defense. Of course, could Aggie pride really swallow the hiring of a Longhorn? Or would Aggie pride delight in taking something away from us? Yes! No! Both! It depends! Diaz Danger: 4
Arizona State, UCLA -- Dennis Erickson and Rick Neuheisel are out and most people believe both of these programs can have consistent, high-end success. Diaz doesn't have any Pac 12 ties, but both schools just struck out with head coaches who arrived with experience and both are in need of a hire that would energize fans. One would imagine Diaz would have to look hard at both jobs if offered. Diaz Danger: 3.5
Illinois -- Zook's latest collapse ends his reign at Illinois, a program that has solid potential but has struggled to be notable. Diaz has no ties to Illinois or the Big Ten, and Illinois may not be eager to hire another defensive coach as their head man. Diaz Danger: 2
Ole Miss -- Houston Nutt was canned weeks ago, and there have been rumors of Ole Miss being interested in Diaz ever since. Ole Miss presents a unique set of challenges with its education system and its place in the SEC, and they would almost certainly prefer a candidate who knows how things work in the state. If Diaz felt up for the challenge, an SEC gig would have to be tempting. Diaz Danger: 4.5
North Carolina -- Interim coach Everett Withers is unlikely to be retained, but early indications are that the Tar Heels are focused in on Gus Malzahn and Skip Holtz. Both make sense, and I'm not terribly worried. Diaz Danger: 1.5
Boston College, Washington State, Kansas -- Diaz would be a great hire for any of these schools, but after getting to know Manny Diaz over the past 12 months, I don't see him eager to take on any of these challenges. Manny Diaz has a very different personality than Gene Chizik; I'd expect him to stay put rather than depart for a head job somewhere iffy where he has no ties or experience. Diaz Danger: 1
The Field -- Finally, let's note that some of the above openings will be filled by head coaches at other schools, creating a new set of available head coaching jobs. For obvious reasons, it's difficult to speculate too much at this point, but for the most part, it's safe to say that most or all of the openings will come from second- or third-tier schools. Some will be more attractive stepping stones for a first-year coach than others, but for now let's just note the possibility as something to keep an eye on. Diaz Danger: 3
Head Coaching Openings at Non-AQSchools
In addition to the openings at BCS Schools, there are up to 7 Non-AQ schools with openings. Confirmed vacancies have opened up at UAB, Florida Atlantic, Memphis, Akron, and Tulane, while jobs are expected to become available at UTEP and Middle Tennessee State. For the most part, I'm not terribly concerned about Diaz deciding to jump ship so quickly to a Non-AQ school, but if he's discontent in any way, or particularly eager to get his head coaching career started, the jobs at Tulane and Middle Tennessee State are worth keeping an eye on.
The Tulane job is more promising than people think, and I know that boosters there are eager to up the profile of the football program, and are willing to spend money to do so. As for MTSU, Diaz got his coaching career as a defensive coordinator started there, and even if no one else is interested in Diaz as a first-year head coach, the Blue Raiders certainly would be. Diaz Danger: 2
Your thoughts? Are you worried about Diaz taking a head coaching job? Which openings worry you the most?