Tim DeRuyter is out as Fresno State’s head coach after starting the season 1-7. Offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau will serve as interim head coach.
Here are seven guys I think could potentially be in the mix to get the Fresno State job.
Getty ImagesEthan Miller
Jeff Tedford, former Cal head coach
The guy that I’ve heard from several sources is the favorite is former Cal coach Jeff Tedford. The 54-year-old former Fresno State QB set a bunch of Bulldog records before moving onto the CFL. He was an assistant under Jim Sweeney at Fresno State before turning around a dismal Cal program that went from 1-10 the year before he arrived to winning 10 games in his third season.
Tedford led Cal to a 82-57 mark over a decade there that included four Top 25 finishes. He mentored Aaron Rodgers and many other top QBs both in his time at Cal and as an assistant at Fresno. However, he was forced out at Cal after going 3-9 in 2012 while the program struggled with academic issues that mounted late in his tenure there.
Tedford and Fresno AD Jim Bartko did work together at Cal for a few years, and word I’ve gotten is that Tedford, now a consultant at Washington, would be very interested in taking over this program.
Lane Kiffin, Alabama OC
Alabama OC Lane Kiffin, the former head coach at USC and Tennessee, is a former back-up QB at Fresno State and has done extremely well since going to Tuscaloosa. He’s groomed impressive offenses in each of the past three seasons despite having to break in a new quarterback each year. He’s learned under Nick Saban and has told me he’ll do a better job of delegating and managing a program if and when he gets another shot.
I suspect if Alabama does go to the playoff again -- and that looks like a very strong possibility -- Kiffin’s stock only will rise. Someone is going to give him another shot. The two biggest questions here regarding Kiffin are will an administration be comfortable with him taking leadership of its program, and two, does the 41-year-old believe he’ll have better options than this Mountain West program?
Ed Orgeron, LSU interim head coach
Ed Orgeron’s odds just improved to land the LSU head coaching job full time after his Tigers thumped Ole Miss 38-21. Orgeron still probably needs to win at least three of the Tigers' four games left to have a good shot at getting the job permanently, and that’s still an uphill climb with Alabama, Texas A&M, Florida and Arkansas remaining. Could he still get LSU if he ends up 5-2 in the regular season? Maybe.
Orgeron, though, is boosting his coaching stock regardless by the way he has handled that situation. He's also arguably the top recruiter in the country and knows West Coast recruiting as well as anyone from his decade-plus at USC. And keep in mind, recruiting was a big reason that led to DeRuyter’s demise at Fresno. Aside from the LSU situation, I think Fresno probably would be one of the better potential fits for Orgeron available this winter.
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John Baxter, USC special teams coach
John Baxter is USC’s special teams coach and spent over a decade on Pat Hill’s Fresno State staff, where he did a lot more than just that, implementing an academic gameplan that had a big positive impact on the Bulldogs program as well as at USC.
In the past 20 years, Baxter’s special teams units have blocked 94 punts/kicks and returned 29 more for TDs. He almost landed the Colorado State head coaching job a few years ago and might be able to work his way into this one given he has deep ties there.
Doug Nussmeier, Florida OC
Doug Nussmeier is Florida’s OC and once ran Fresno State’s offense about a decade ago. He’s got West Coast roots, has played and coached in the NFL and is very well thought of in coaching circles.
He turned down the Southern Miss head coaching job last winter and figures to be headed to get his own program before too long.
Tim Drevno, Michigan OC and O-line coach
Tim Drevno is Michigan’s O-line coach and offensive coordinator. He has spent a long time as a Jim Harbaugh disciple and is a Southern California native and former USC assistant. The 47-year-old’s done very well at Michigan and this could be a good fit here.
The Wolverines are No. 3 in the nation in scoring and being connected to Harbaugh these days looks like a very good thing.
Justin Wilcox, Wisconsin DC
Justin Wilcox has had quite a bounce-back season in his debut at Wisconsin as the Badgers' defensive coordinator, leading one of the more impressive units in college football after struggling last year at USC.
Wilcox is 39 and does have ties to Bartko from their days at Oregon. Is he ready to run his own program? Does he even really want to at this point?