There’s a searing disappointment in the Louisville fanbase that favorite local son Jeff Brohm decided to stay at Purdue. This marks the first real test of athletic director Vince Tyra’s administration, as his hiring of Chris Mack was the administrative version of a fast-break lay-up – smooth and unimpeded.
Tyra now heads to the open market with some unexpected competition, as Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson announced he’s stepping down after the season. Those jobs will likely be drawing from the same pool, putting the pressure on Tyra to quickly navigate the scene. (Troy’s Neal Brown is unlikely to be considered, sources said, in part because of comments he’d made about Louisville while he was a Kentucky assistant that made waves locally.)
1. Scott Satterfield, Appalachian State
Sources have told Pat Forde and I that he’s the top choice. Can’t argue with the winning. He’s 39-11 the past four years, including three bowl victories. There’s a tricky timing issue here with Appalachian State playing in the Sun Belt title game this weekend. He’s considered a top target, but not the only one.
2. Luke Fickell, Cincinnati
Coming off a 10-win season, it’d be interesting to see if he gets in the mix. Fickell is a lifelong Ohio guy and projects more as a Big Ten coach. His defensive background and discipline would be a drastic shift from the Petrino era. He could cut into Kentucky coach Mark Stoops’ success recruiting Ohio.
3. Ryan Day, Ohio State OC
A program that has always had an identity tied to big offensive numbers would be attractive to Day in the wake of a record-setting season at Ohio State. There will be plenty of interest in Day elsewhere, including at Maryland. So Louisville would need to pounce after the Big Ten title game this weekend.
4. Mike Norvell, Memphis
He’s won the rugged AAC West in consecutive seasons, including four straight to close this season. There’s a big opportunity for a showcase win Saturday against No. 7 UCF, which will be without injured quarterback McKenzie Milton. Where Norvell coaches, good offenses follow.
5. Matt Wells, Utah State
He’s won big this season at a hard job where keeping staff and recruiting are constant challenges. He has Utah State at 10-2, nationally ranked for much of the season and with the No. 3 scoring offense in the country. Dynamic personality could help boost Louisville’s recruiting class, which sits outside the top 75 according to Rivals.com.
6. Barry Odom, Missouri
He’s already stated publicly that he has no interest in the job, which would make this tough sledding. But he has a bad contract at Missouri and was a name early on in the Louisville process. Did his comments get him scratched off the list?
7. Jason Candle, Toledo
He won the MAC last season and brings the requisite offensive background. Toledo finished in the top 15 in total offense in 2017 and top 10 in 2016 with Candle calling plays. Candle coached NFL receivers Cecil Shorts and Pierre Garcon as a position coach at Mount Union and had Kareem Hunt at Toledo.
8. Seth Littrell, North Texas
He has ACC experience from his time at North Carolina. And while he’s likely a more realistic option for Colorado or Texas Tech, Littell’s history of prolific offenses could catch Tyra’s eye.
9. Bill Clark, UAB
He’s won relentlessly in the face of significant adversity at UAB, as they are 9-3 this year and one of the most remarkable stories in college football. This may be a big leap for Clark, but his Southern recruiting ties would be coveted in Louisville.
10. Dave Ragone, Bears QB coach
The former Louisville star is revered on campus from his time there. He lacks college experience, which could make this a reach. But he’s considered a rising star in NFL circles, as his name is buzzing at that level.
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