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Nebraska coaching candidates: Mark Stopps, Matt Campbell lead coaching roster to replace Scott Frost

Nebraska’s seventh coaching search since Tom Osborn retired in 1997. This fact is both surprising and frustrating. Homegrown son Scott Frost was fired on Sunday after a 16-31 run in three games in his fifth season. Even though they’ve made modest progress in other areas, the Cornhusks have been underperforming on a few things: special teams and losing close games.

Frost tried everything: change coaches, change methods. With Georgia Southern picking up 642 yards Saturday night at Holy Memorial Stadium, where the Heisman Trophy winner and national champion once lived, nothing could close a deal.

The quality of work in Nebraska is different than ever. In the process of going from the top 12 to the top 10, the program lost its identity. Traditional recruiting venues in Texas and California are either neglected or eventually shrink. Nebraska has no natural opponent in the Big Ten, although some want Iowa to be that team. Instead, it sees a distant outpost in a league that suddenly has a presence in New York, Chicago and soon Los Angeles.

Can the Huskers bounce back? Absolutely. Look at the teams they lost. Northwestern has played in two of the past four Big Ten tournaments. South Georgia’s Clay Helton was the first coach to be fired at USC last season. For nearly a year, he helped defeat Nebraska and ousted Frost.

Nebraska could quickly reverse its plans; it just hasn’t done so recently. The next hire has to hit because the coach’s hamster wheel has worn and rusted since Osborne. Meanwhile, a once-proud project suffered.

Nebraska Coach Candidate

Mark Stopps, Kentucky Coach : Stopps has spent a decade methodically developing the Wildcats into an above-average, competent SEC program. He’s won 10 games twice since 2018, which may have prompted his recent angry comeback when John Calipari suggested Kentucky should focus more on basketball success. With one of his biggest victories in Florida on Saturday, there is evidence that Stoops could be at the top of the list with the Wildcats. No one is against Stoops, but no one will beat Georgia anytime soon. He’ll have a better chance at the Big Ten Championship Game (not the SEC Championship Game) in the Big Ten West. His culture, tireless work ethic and serious attitude will appeal to Nebraska. If you don’t want to call him the new Bo Pelini, fine, but don’t forget that Pelini’s legacy (67-27 in seven seasons) is looking very good right now. Bending over is probably better than that… no luggage.

Iowa Coach Matt Campbell: Some sources tell CBS that Campbell feels Nebraska sports of interest. It definitely has more resources than Iowa, especially as Texas and Oklahoma are about to leave and the Big 12 has dropped in the rankings. But Campbell has to be at a certain level this season to be involved. That means 6-6 or even 7-5 might not be good enough for Nebraska, which absolutely has to hit a home run this time around. Campbell (10-7 in last 17 games) may have just hit his ceiling in Iowa. Before that, insiders said Campbell was only interested in two jobs: Ohio State and Notre Dame. Both are currently full.

Mitch Joseph, Nebraska Interim Coach: Joseph got a lot of support as Frost’s vice-captain coach And Osborn’s former Husk quarterback. Like Frost, Joseph recently made his way up the coaching ladder at LSU, where he developed what some say is the best wide receiver team in history. Like Frost, he has a national championship ring (LSU, 2019). He will also bring continuity to the program. Since the timing of the firing is almost all about hiring — Nebraska paid Frost $15 million to fire Frost until Oct. 1, when the purchase price dropped to $7.5 million — Joseph will be able to pick up where Frost left off.

Bill O’Brien, Alabama Offensive Coordinator: “Obie” as Pennsylvania No. 1 A Penn State coach already has Big Ten experience in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. There is no healthier coaching tree to choose from: Bill Belichick and Nick Saban. He has coached the Heisman Cup winner (Bryce Young) and the GOAT (Tom Brady). How it feels now: If O’Brien goes anywhere, maybe one day he’ll be back in the NFL to replace Belichick.

Wisconsin Defensive Coordinator Jim Leonhard: and Oklahoma’s Brent Venables Likewise, Leonhard has turned down a lot of interest in head coaching opportunities. Like Clemson’s Venables, Leonhard has to consider that he has a better job now. His next gig has to be an absolute fit. Suddenly chasing his old boss Paul Crist and his alma mater within the department doesn’t seem like an ideal move. Leonhard is a brilliant defensive mind, but does Nebraska want to put all its eggs in the basket of a hot assistant who has never formed staff or been in charge of recruiting?

Texas analyst Gary Patterson: That makes sense. After a painful departure from TCU, the 62-year-old GP has a lot left. (Consider: How many people with statues on campus have been fired during this season ?) Patterson sat with Longhorn on Saturday The Bulls showed his skills when teaming up defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski to limit Alabama to the lowest score in a true road game since 2017. Patterson knows Nebraska and its culture; he’ll shine through the recruiting process out of the box. Black shirts? They will be back.

Urban Meyer, Fox Analyst: The Huskers won’t…do they? Despair seems to have found someone like Meyer, whose winning percentage must ultimately be balanced against off-court issues. The latest is an internal issue with last season’s Jacksonville Jaguars players. Meyer, a three-time national championship coach at Florida and Ohio State, was in charge of hiring Oregon State assistant Zach Smith, whose wife accused him of abuse. That landed Meyer with a three-game suspension early in the 2018 season, his final game with the Buckeyes. Meyer isn’t even spending a full season with the Jags in 2021. Meyer can coach college, but can he avoid the spotlight for all the wrong reasons?



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