Former UM assistant coaches Greg Schiano and Mario Cristobal are among those who have interest in the Hurricanes head coaching job, according to close associates, and athletic director Blake James is expected to cast a wide net in his search for a replacement for Al Golden, who was dismissed on Sunday.
Three former coaches with UM ties — Schiano, Cristobal and Rob Chudzinski — are all expected to be discussed internally and could emerge as serious candidates. Cristobal and Chudzinski played and coached at UM.
Butch Davis, who went 51-20 as UM’s coach from 1995 to 2000 but has been out of coaching since North Carolina dismissed him in 2010, also has interest, according to friends.
Though nobody in position of authority has ruled out Davis, two Board of Trustees members said they would be surprised if Davis, 63, is considered because of the way he left North Carolina, amid an academic scandal. Even though he wasn’t directly implicated by the NCAA, many believe Davis was tarnished and he hasn’t found a job since. One trustee said discussion of Davis usually elicits an eye roll among UM officials.
Schiano, 49, adeptly guided UM’s defense under Davis in 1999 and 2000. He transformed a moribund Rutgers program into a winner, highlighted by an 11-2 season in 2006, and went 68-67 in 11 years there, including 5-1 in bowl games.
Schiano, who recruited South Florida heavily as Rutgers’ coach, has been out of coaching since going 11-21 in two seasons as coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who fired him in late December 2013. Cristobal, 45, went 27-47 in six seasons as FIU’s coach, but that included 7-6 and 8-5 records in the fourth and fifth seasons. He was fired after finishing 3-9 in 2012.
Cristobal, a UM assistant from 2004-06 and considered a very good recruiter, joined Golden’s staff early in 2013 before leaving after only six weeks to join Nick Saban at Alabama, where he now serves as offensive line coach.
Chudzinski, 47, was a UM assistant from 1994 through 2003, including offensive coordinator the final three seasons of his tenure. He went 4-12 in his one season as a head coach, for the Cleveland Browns in 2013, and has served as the Indianapolis Colts’ associate head coach since the start of last season.
Other potential candidates:
▪ Tom Herman. The former Ohio State offensive coordinator, 40, is 7-0 in his first season as head coach at the University of Houston.
▪ Mike Shula. Son of legendary Dolphins coach Don Shula, Mike Shula has received plaudits for his work as the Carolina Panthers’ offensive coordinator since 2013. He went 4-9, 6-6, 10-2 and 6-6 in four years at Alabama before being fired after the 2006 season but left considerable talent behind for Saban, who replaced him. If Shula took the job, he could bring with him Panthers quarterbacks coach and former UM great Ken Dorsey.
▪ Rich Rodriguez. One UM official mentioned Rodriguez, a bright offensive mind, but it’s highly questionable if he would leave Arizona, where he’s 31-17 in three-plus seasons after going 60-26 at West Virginia and 15-22 at Michigan.
▪ Justin Fuente. At 39, he appears to have turned around the Memphis program; he finished 4-8 and 3-9 his first two seasons but went 10-3 in 2014 and is 7-0 this season. The concern would be taking a chance on another mid-major coach, which UM did when it plucked Golden from Temple.
UM figures to inquire about pie-in-the-sky candidates, such as TCU’s Gary Patterson. Indianapolis Colts coach and former UM assistant Chuck Pagano, who went 11-5 the past three seasons but is 3-4 this season, reportedly is at risk but the timing might not be right, since UM could have a coach in place before a potential Pagano dismissal.
James declined to discuss a timetable for the search or say whether he will enlist a search firm to assist. He likely would need to wait until December to speak to active, employed coaches.
UM typically hasn’t paid as much for head coaches as the highest revenue schools. Golden’s $2.5 million salary ranked 42nd among FBS coaches this season, according to USA Today.