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Let’s Speculate! Potential Nebraska head football coach candidates


Welcome to Let’s Speculate! on Coaches Database, where we go through programs that are or may soon be looking for a new head coach and speculate who they may hire next.

Today’s program is Nebraska, coached for the past 4+ seasons by Scott Frost (fired on Sept 11).

  • Lance Leipold – Kansas head coach
    • Leipold took a job last year that no one wanted and, somewhat remarkably, won two games at Kansas. But now in year two, the Jayhawks are a completely new program and safely out of the Big 12 basement. Before KU, Leipold coached Buffalo for six years (24-10 over the last three years, 2-1 in bowls), and at D-III Wisconsin-Whitewater, his alma mater, where he won SIX national titles in eight years (not a typo – finished 2nd once, also). As the Jayhawks continue to win, the sweepstakes for Leipold will keep heating up.
  • Matt Rhule – former Carolina Panthers, Baylor and Temple head coach
    • Rhule was let go by Carolina in October after going 11-27 in 2+ seasons there and since then the already rampant chatter of him returning to the college game has grown out of control. In addition to nearly $40 million in buyouts, Rhule will have his pick of college jobs this winter. Like with Leipold, the sweepstakes for Rhule will be something to watch.
  • Matt Campbell – Iowa State head coach
    • Like Frost, Campbell made a splash as the mid-major level that warranted getting a shot at a big conference school, but unlike Frost he would arrive in Lincoln with plenty of success at that next level already. Campbell will get mentioned for every job better than ISU this and every offseason until he takes one (he was rumored to have received a massive offer from the Detroit Lions this year). After a rebuilding year to start, Campbell has taken the Cyclones to five-straight bowl games, including a Fiesta Bowl win over Oregon two years ago. It’s may not be a typical year in Ames, but that will not stop schools from courting Campbell.
  • Chris Klieman – Kansas State head coach
    • While we’re on the subject of successful Big 12 head coaches, you have to look at K-State’s Chris Klieman. Two bowls in three years after taking over for the great Bill Snyder, Klieman is climbed the ladder from D-III to FCS and now to the FBS. If things continue on their current trajectory (the Wildcats are 5-1 and ranked in the top 20) it won’t be long before Klieman gets a bigger opportunity.
  • Mickey Joseph – Nebraska interim head coach
    • The guy who (sort of) has the job already, Joseph is a former Huskers QB who just joined the staff this season after spending the last five years at LSU. He won a National Championship in 2020 as the Tigers’ assistant HC at WRs coach and does have some head coaching experience, having led the NAIA Langston Lions for two seasons (2011-12). He already broke an important barrier at his alma mater, becoming the first black head coach in ANY varsity sport. The Huskers have won two-straight conference games under Joseph and (for now) have a share of the Big Ten West division lead.
  • Bill O’Brien – Alabama offensive coordinator
    • Back on campus after a seven-year detour to the NFL, O’Brien holds the coveted OC position at Alabama that so often pushes guys back into head coaching gigs. The Tide were national runner-up last year, Obie’s first in Tuscaloosa, and he had the offense ranked in the top 7 for yards and points per game. His lone collegiate head job was in the Big Ten, stepping into an unprecedented situation at Penn State and somehow finishing above .500 in both years there. He was consistent with the Houston Texans, but never able to get over the hump and now finds himself in the Crimson Tide juggernaut, undoubtedly waiting for the right opportunity to present itself.
  • Jamey Chadwell – Coastal Carolina head coach
    • The 45-year old Chadwell is in his fifth year with the Chanticleers and is coming off back-to-back 11-win seasons. He runs a winning program with an exciting style of play that might be exactly what is needed after years of mediocre (or downright awful) play in Lincoln. The rub may be that he has never coached in a league bigger than the Sun Belt, but he’s already got the attention of power conference ADs across the country and it won’t be much longer before he makes the jump.
  • Craig Bohl – Wyoming head coach
    • Bohl is not the flashiest name on this list, but as a member of the Nebraska family with two decades of head coaching experience he is an intriguing candidate nonetheless. Four bowls in his first eight years at Wyoming (and likely a fifth this year), preceded by an incredible run at North Dakota State that ended with three-straight FCS National Championships (2011-13). The Lincoln-native played three seasons for Tom Osborne and spent a total of eleven years on staff at his alma mater before getting the NDSU job in 2003.
  • Gary Patterson – Texas assistant
    • In more than 21 years at TCU – during which time the Frogs competed in four different conferences ending – Patterson was 181-79 overall and 11-6 in bowl games. His credentials are staggering, 12 times ending the year in the AP Top 25 (9 of those as a mid-major) and three trips to NY6 bowls (2-1). His Frogs won the Rose Bowl in 2010 to cap a perfect 13-0 season that ultimately landed TCU in the Big 12 shortly thereafter. The program slumped for a few years and Patterson was let go after eight games last season, but the Kansas-native certainly has more coaching ahead of him.