Everybody loves brackets and we all have opinions on the search for the next great coach to lead our Golden Gophers. Well it is time that you all have a say in the matter (and by having a say I mean pushing a button on the internet as an anonymous lurker and the results of said button pushing will have absolutely no bearing on the actual outcome of the coaching search). It is time for the voting to start and Gopher Nation to be allowed to speak.
Second matchup of the semi-finals pits a current head coach against a former head coach. Do you want the guy who wants to get back into coaching, or the up-and-comer looking for a BCS job?
Current Position: Temple (HC)
TDG Candidate Profile
Why? -Of all the coaches in this bracket, Golden took program that was in the worst shape and has made it into a winner. In the 20 seasons before Golden arrived Owl fans endure 13 seasons of 2 wins or fewer! 13 seasons of two wins or fewer! Only one season in that 20 year span was a winning season, all the rest (19 / 20) were four wins or fewer; mostly fewer. That was one of the worst programs in the country. Golden's first season was a 1-11 campaign but since then it has been a steady increase in wins each season. 4 wins, 5 wins, 9 wins (the program's best record since 1979) and this year he has the Owls at 8-2 with two games remaining. That is the first back-to-back winning seasons since 1978-79. Impressive.
Golden meets all of the criteria that I believe we all want out of our next coach. He is a former Big Ten player, he has extensive experience as a coordinator (defensive) at a BCS school and he has proven he can win in a challenging situation. And from a recruiting perspective Golden has succeeded at finding guys who fits his system (regardless of star rating) and then he teaches them how to play football puts them in position to succeed. I see no reason why he would not be a great fit if Al Golden were to become a Golden Gopher.
Why Not? -Overall record is a losing record as a head coach. His 1-11 season to start his career sticks out and makes it tough to get back over that .500 mark. That doesn't concern me as much considering he quickly increased the win total from 1 to 9 in just his fourth year. What may cause more concern is that he turned around a program in the MAC, which isn't exactly the Big Ten. It is competitive but his Temple turnaround doesn't necessarily mean he'll be able to come here and have us competing with Ohio State, Penn State, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, etc. This ain't the MAC.
The other major concern is that this is not a destination job for Golden. The former Nittany Lion may very well leave us in short order if / when Joe Paterno ever retires. Not ideal for Gopher fans to have another Lou Holtz situation.
Current Position: ESPN Analyst, former Oregon HC
TDG Candidate Profile
Why? - The Oregon Ducks hadn't had a head coach who finished his career with a winning record since Len Casanova (1951-66), until Mike Bellotti came along. He won at Oregon piggy-backing on Rich Brook's 1994 Rose Bowl season and took off to have a .678 win % in his 14 years on the job. Eight seasons of finishing in the Pac10's top three and in 2001 the Ducks finished the season ranked #2 in the final BCS standings. The guy has won and we'd love to have a winner. His offenses are high scoring, he's run a BCS caliber team and he has spent plenty of time as an athletic director (maybe he could take Maturi's job too). Mostly he was part of rebuilding a broken program into an elite program. Rich Brooks got the ball rolling and Bellotti took it to another level.
Bellotti is also known as a coach who develops other coaches. He was incredibly successful as the head coach where he groomed Chip Kelly to eventually take over the program. Kelly now has the Ducks in prime position to be in the BCS Title game this year. So he may not be your Gopher coach for the next couple decades but even if he doesn't stick around for years to come, maybe he develops his successor and we start to develop some continuity here.
Why Not? -First off, he may not be interested in the job. If he doesn't want to move to Minnesota and deal with recruiting and put his job security in the hands of 18-22 year old kids, then obviously he'll come off the board. Secondly he isn't young and hungry anymore. He stepped away from coaching to move into an administrative role as Oregon's AD. There is no guarantee that he wants to put the headset back on and coach again. The job is grueling and demanding, not an ideal position for someone who is going to be 60 in a couple months. And even if he wants the job how long would he really stick around. This is not a one or two year rebuilding job. This may take several years and who knows how much patience he would have.