Minnesota is facing a coaching search it certainly did not want.
Jerry Kill stepped down Wednesday because of continued issues with his epilepsy after rebuilding a failing program into a solid, if not spectacular, winner. The Gophers were 29-29 under Kill, including eight wins each of the last two seasons and 4-3 this year. Playing in the Big Ten West, the Gophers can contend for division titles with a solid coach.
Minnesota also currently has an interim athletic director, which adds another layer of uncertainty to their search process.
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Some possible candidates to be the next coach at Minnesota:
– Tracy Claeys, Minnesota interim coach/defensive coordinator. The Gophers went 4-3 when Claeys was acting coach two years ago, filling in while Kill was dealing with seizures. If Minnesota likes what Kill has built, it could keep it going with a somewhat known commodity.
– Rod Carey, Northern Illinois coach. Minnesota hired Kill away from NIU so why not go back to DeKalb, Illinois? The 44-year-old Carey is 28-9 in three seasons leading the Huskies. He started his coaching career as a high school coach in Minnesota and was a graduate assistant for the Gophers.
– Dave Aranda, Wisconsin defensive coordinator. Aranda once again has the Badgers among the best defenses in the Big Ten. He got a look from the Green Bay Packers after last season to join the NFL team as an assistant.
– Pete Lembo, Ball State coach. The Cardinals are on their way to a second straight losing season, but don’t forget he went 25-13 in his first three seasons at a difficult place to win.
– Troy Calhoun, Air Force. Calhoun was a candidate for the Minnesota job when Kill was hired in 2010. He is 63-47 in nine seasons at Air Force and has a diverse background that also includes time in the NFL. As the gap between the Power Five conferences and the rest of FBS widens, veteran coaches such as Calhoun seem more likely to make the jump.
– Matt Campbell, Toledo. At 35 years old and in the middle of potentially his best season with the Rockets, Campbell is likely to be a hot commodity. He is also young enough – and smart enough – to be picky.