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.
This matchup might be the highlight of the first round, which is why it is in the primetime slot! Is this going to be the first upset of the tournament?
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.
Current Position: Houston head coach
TDG Candidate Profile
Why? - Sumlin has been rumored to be on the short list and a very strong candidate. He understands what it would take to win here, or at least that is the assumption because he spent a few years coaching here under Jim Wacker. Sumlin has good experience as an assistant, primarily being the OC at Oklahoma for five years (or at least co-OC). And he then moved on to become a head coach at Houston where he has had a nice run of success in his nearly three years on the job.
What I most like about Sumlin is that he has beat teams he shouldn't have. In his first season he beat two ranked teams. In 2009 he beat #5 Oklahoma State on the road and then followed that with a win over Texas Tech the next week and then two weeks later won on the road over Mississippi State. Two Big 12 wins and an SEC win in a three week span. Three wins over ranked teams with a Conference USA team made up primarily of his predecessors players?
Why Not? - A lot of people fear that he is going to be the second coming of Jim Wacker. Sumlin's teams have been extremely prolific offensively but they have been inept defensively. I don't think in my lifetime I have witnessed a Gopher defense that I was confident would stop somebody. When Sumlin is interviewing he absolutely better have a plan as to how he plans to field a defense at Minnesota. Hiring an outstanding defensive coordinator is a non-negotiable and better be part of the interview vetting. He may not be the perfect candidate but there is a very good chance that he'll be your next Golden Gopher head coach.