Potential replacements for Butch Jones

December 7, 2012

The list of potential candidates to coach the University of Cincinnati football team has grown shorter almost as quickly as the job opened up.

One day after Butch Jones resigned from the Bearcats to take the Tennessee job, Willie Taggart announced on Saturday he's leaving Western Kentucky to take over at South Florida.

Here's who's left from our original list of five Cincinnati possibilities:

Matt Campbell, head coach, Toledo - He's young, successful and he's been groomed for this type of job. He's still the youngest coach in FBS football and the thought that he's a year away may be legitimate, but why wait? He has a great job and great talent at Toledo, and he has the demeanor and recruiting ability to keep UC playing at a high level and eventually push it higher.
Pat Narduzzi, defensive coordinator, Michigan State - He was Cincinnati's defensive coordinator from 2004-06, so he knows the program and the city. He's overseen a very gifted defense at Michigan State since 2007, knows the recruiting area and knows the landscape. Lack of head-coaching experience could be a negative, but he's worth at least a look.
Kerry Coombs, defensive backs coach, Ohio State - He's probably a longshot candidate because he presumably has no direct relationship with Cincinnati athletic director Whit Babcock, but Coombs is football in Cincinnati. A longtime successful head coach at Colerain High School, he left there to be an assistant at UC and then was a priority hire for Urban Meyer last year at this time. He'd energize the city and the program.
Pete Lembo, head coach, Ball State - He won at FCS Elon, and in his second year at Ball State the Cardinals went 9-3, defeated two BCS conference opponents and are playing in the Beef O'Brady's Bowl this month. He prefers the kind of wide-open spread offense already in place at Cincinnati, and as successful MAC coach looking to take the step, well, UC has had success with that before. He's been linked to other open jobs; he seems to fit this one.