Rising stars, coaches-in-waiting, whiz kids — whatever you want to call some of these assistant coaches, one thing ties them all together: They're going to be interviewing for head coaching jobs this winter. They might not all land Power 5 jobs, but these assistants should be heading their own programs soon.
Getty ImagesStacy Revere
Eddie Gran - OC - Kentucky
A masterful South Florida recruiter and spread offense guru, Gran is long overdue to run his own program. He’ll need to help Mark Stoops keep his job first.
Josh Conklin - DC - Pitt
A rising star in the profession, a Sun Belt or C-USA school could come knocking soon.
Ivin Jasper - OC - Navy
Don’t undervalue the triple-option — you can call it antiquated, but when you commit to it, results come. Jasper has produced great offenses in one of the toughest situations in college football.
Major Applewhite - OC - Houston
He moves around but keeps getting results. If/when Tom Herman leaves, he could be a solid replacement.
Brett Davis-USA TODAY SportsBrett Davis
Billy Gonzales - OC - Mississippi State
An excellent recruiter who was on this list a few years ago, before falling off — he should get some love for his X’s and O’s this year, as Mississippi State should surprise a few teams in the SEC.
Harlon Barnett - DC - Michigan State
How does Michigan State keep doing it? Barnett is a big reason. Mark Dantonio’s right-hand man, Barnett has been waiting for his time. MAC programs can’t overlook him this year.
Mike Carter-USA TODAY SportsMike Carter
Mike Bloomgren - OC - Stanford
The Jim Harbaugh-David Shaw coaching tree is going to be en vogue this winter, and Bloomgren has the steady presence and results that athletic directors love.
Ed Warinner - OC - Ohio State
Urban Meyer’s coaching tree is exceptional. Warinner is almost certain to be the latest example.
Sterlin Gilbert - OC - Texas
If Texas is a bona fide Big 12 contender this year, and if the first-year OC can get his Veer and Shoot offense to turn around this group of to-this-point underperformers, he’ll be in high demand. Gilbert worked under Dino Babers, and if Syracuse shows signs of life, Gilbert’s HC prospects will improve too.
Darrin Chiaverini - OC - Colorado
Might be too early — he’s entering his first year at Colorado and his first year as a coordinator, but the former NFL wide receiver is a super sleeper name to keep an eye on going forward.
Texas Tech Athletics / Michael S
Sonny Cumbie - OC - TCU
TCU used to be known as a defense-only powerhouse. Cumbie helped turn it into a national title contender. If he can replicate the success he had with quarterback Trevone Boykin with Kenny Hill, he should have a line of job offers this winter.
Sports Illustrated/Getty ImagesGreg Nelson
Mike Sanford - OC - Notre Dame
Worked magic at Boise State and then last year at Notre Dame. He just wins. That has to be attractive to a lot of programs.
Getty ImagesJoe Robbins
Geoff Collins - DC - Florida
An elite recruiter of the state of Florida, Collins would thrive in the MAC, where having some Sunshine State speed is the ultimate x-factor.
Getty ImagesEd Zurga
Danny Langsdorf - OC - Nebraska
The Huskers’ offense has a chance to be really, really good in 2016 and that should turn ADs on to Langsdorf, who has NFL coaching experience and has produced great numbers with Mike Riley at Oregon State. Character is certainly not an issue: Langsdorf donated his kidney to an Oregon State coach’s wife in 2007.
Joe Moorhead - OC - Penn State
The wildly successful head coach at Fordham, if Moorehead can turn around Penn State’s tough-to-watch offense this year, he should be able to land a big-time head coaching job.
Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY SportsMatthew OHaren
Tee Martin - OC - USC
One of the best recruiters in the country, Martin should get a shot at taking over a Group of Five job this winter — especially if he can get USC back into the Rose Bowl.
Sports Illustrated/Getty ImagesRobert Beck
Lincoln Riley - OC - Oklahoma
The 32-year-old whiz kid might be the best assistant on the market, which creates a bit of a problem. Does he pounce on the great job opportunities that are sure to come after this year or wait out Bob Stoops at Oklahoma? It might be the most critical decision he’ll make his career.
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY SportsMark D. Smith
Dave Aranda - DC - LSU
He turned Wisconsin into one of the nation’s best defensive teams. At LSU, he’ll have immense talent and will have those players flying around the field. It’s not sexy to hire a DC as a head coach, but Aranda is a guy who has always gotten the most out of his talent.
Matt Bush-USA TODAY SportsMatt Bush
Brent Venables - DC - Clemson
A mainstay of this list, is 2016 the year he finally follows Chad Morris’ lead and takes a head coaching job? The problem: He might have to take a pay cut to prove he’s HC material.
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY SportsJoshua S. Kelly
Lane Kiffin - OC - Alabama
Don't fight the feeling.
John David Mercer-USA TODAY SportsJohn David Mercer