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Virginia Football Coach Replacement List

With the Mike London era officially over, could one of these 53 candidates be the next coach of Virginia's football team?

Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Now that Mike London is no longer the head football coach, UVA must look now at possible replacements. Below is a list of 53 coaches that could take over the reins broken down into five separate categories:

Up and Coming Current Head Coaches

These are current NCAA head coaches at non-power conference schools who could be looking to move up to the ACC.

P.J. Fleck, Western Michigan Head Coach - ROW THE BOAT!! A young, enthusiastic recruiting whiz, Fleck has turned Western Michigan around. After a 1-11 inaugural campaign, Fleck brought in the top recruiting class in the MAC and has had them in the thick of conference title contention the last two seasons. Strength of schedule is one thing to consider for anyone looking at WMU's 2015 record.

Pete Lembo, Ball State Head Coach - Considered an offensive guru, Lembo has slipped some recently as Ball State's success has diminished. Anyone who watched BSU beat UVa at Scott Stadium a few years back has either an irrational hate or an irrational love for Lembo.

Tom Herman, Houston Head Coach - One of the top two or three names being bandied about for P5 head coaching gigs this year. The former offensive coordinator for Ohio State, Herman has brought Houston to the precipice of a New Year's Day bowl game in just his first season.

Bobby Wilder, ODU Head Coach - Built ODU's resurgence from scratch. After almost 20 years as an assistant coach at FCS Maine, Wilder led ODU to a 46-14 record in five FCS seasons, including two playoff appearances. In their first season in FBS, Wilder's Monarchs achieved a .500 record and would have been bowl eligible if not for rules prohibiting first-year FBS programs from bowl competition. Has established ODU as an in-state recruiting force, especially for Tidewater recruits.

Doc Holliday, Marshall Head Coach - High-powered offenses have made the Thundering Herd a force to be reckoned with in C-USA. Under QB Rakeem Cato, the 2014 Herd were 13-1 and reached #18 in the AP Poll. Holiday's roots are in West Virginia, and he should be a leading candidate to replace Dana Holgorsen if WVU makes a change.

Matt Rhule, Temple Head Coach - Another in the first-year coaches who could be movin' on up. A Temple alum, Rhule led the Owls to an upset of Penn State in week one and a Gameday matchup against Notre Dame. Any program with a mid-Atlantic footprint will give Rhule a thorough looking-over.

Chad Morris, SMU Head Coach - Notable not so much for what he's won but by how much better SMU looks compared to last year. After leaving his post as offensive coordinator at Clemson, Morris' Mustangs scored as many points in one game as they scored in the entire first month of 2014.

Dino Babers, Bowling Green Head Coach - Led Bowling Green to 2015 MAC East title. Won two Ohio Valley Conference titles in two years as head coach of Eastern Illinois, and tutored Jimmy Garoppolo to being a second round NFL Draft pick.

Bob Stitt, Montana Head Coach - #StittHappens. Progenitor of ridiculously effective spread/air raid attacks. Came up as the coach of Colorado School of Mines, and upset four-time defending FCS champs North Dakota State in his first game as head coach of Montana.

Craig Bohl, Wyoming Head Coach - Know that thing right there above about North Dakota State being four-time defending FCS champs? Yea, that's thanks to this guy. Built a dynasty on the foundation of defense and a run-first, pro-style attack.

Willie Fritz, Georgia Southern Head Coach - Strong record as a turnaround artist, winning national championships at Blinn College in the junior college ranks and earning a spot in the NJCAA Hall of Fame. His Sam Houston State squads played in two straight FCS title games, and he's led Georgia Southern's transition into the FBS and the Sun Belt conference.

Mark Hudspeth, Louisiana-Lafayette Head Coach - Another successful small school coach, Hudspeth led North Alabama to four straight appearances in the D-II quarterfinals. He took over ULL in the wake of major NCAA violations and won 9 games in each of 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Matt Wells, Utah St. Head Coach - In both of USU's first two seasons, Wells' Aggies won at least 9 games. Cut his teeth as an offensive assistant, and has been talked about whenever a Power Five opening has popped up in the past few years.

Everett Withers, JMU Head Coach -Was UNC's interim head coach during the academic scandal aftermath (no, the FIRST academic scandal). Obviously knows Virginia pretty well, and has brought JMU back to national relevance in the FCS ranks.

Jeff Brohm, Western Kentucky Head Coach - Has the street cred as a former QB for Louisville (was Kentucky's high school player of the decade for the 1980s). 8-5 in first year at Western Kentucky, and the Hilltoppers are rolling again in 2015.

Beau Baldwin, Eastern Washington Head Coach - If the red turf was his idea, no thanks. But if the national championship and multiple double-digit-win seasons come with him, I think we can suffer the eyesore being the field instead of the team on it.

Coordinator Prospects

These are current offensive or defensive coordinators at big time NCAA programs that could be looking to step up to a head coaching job.

Doug Nussmeier, Florida Offensive Coordinator - Has bounced around a lot in recent years, but always to big name schools. Alabama's offense under him clicked with QB A.J. McCarron, and Florida's resurgence in the SEC East has been largely thanks to finding some semblance of offense.

Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma Offensive Coordinator - Air Raid protege, but super young. Played QB under Mike Leach at Texas Tech, then ran the offense for ECU during the Pirates' most successful stretch in years. Will be a head coach somewhere at some point. Is Virginia that place, and is 2016 that time?

Rhett Lashlee, Auburn Offensive Coordinator - He was a finalist for the Frank Boyles Award, given to the nation's best assistant coach, the past two seasons. Led the Tigers offense to the last BCS title game two seasons ago.

Brett Venables, Clemson Defensive Coordinator - If Chad Morris at SMU is an indication of what Clemson coordinators can do for a struggling program, yes please. Clearly knows the region and the competition, and would bring strong recruiting ties with him.

Kirby Smart, Alabama Defensive Coordinator - One would say he's a mini-Saban, but not sure if getting any smaller than Saban is actually possible. Has the same mad scientist gene that Saban does and has coached defenses that are among the most technically sound in college football year in and year out.

Lane Kiffin, Alabama Offensive Coordinator - Brilliant offensive coordinator. But if past results are an indication, that hasn't translated to holding the head job. See: Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Volunteers, USC Trojans. Would be poetic if he's hired in the CHO parking lot.

Scott Frost, Oregon Offensive Coordinator - Former college QB for Nebraska, Frost has been mentioned each of the past several seasons as a top head-coach candidate. His Ducks' offenses are always among the nation's best. Their being there this year with a transfer QB speaks volumes about Frost's abilities.

DJ Durkin, Michigan Defensive Coordinator - A Harbaugh disciple, Durkin has had stints at Stanford and Florida. In addition to coaching defense (as a linebackers coach before becoming defensive coordinator), he has been a special-teams coordinator. Was also Florida's interim head coach for their bowl game after Will Muschamp was fired.

Jeremy Pruitt, Georgia Defensive Coordinator - If Richt is gone at the end of 2015, Pruitt could well be packing his bags with him. National championships seem to follow him: 2 with Alabama while he was the Tide's DC, then one with FSU in 2013.

Luke Fickell, Ohio State Defensive Coordinator - Took the reins of the Buckeyes' program for the year between Tressel and Meyer, then stuck around in Columbus once Meyer took the HC job. Going to be hard to pull him out of Columbus as he played for the Buckeyes in the mid-90s.

Mike Bloomgren, Stanford Offensive Coordinator - Only 38 years old, but has already served as an assistant offensive coordinator in the NFL. He's been the brains behind Stanford's ground-and-pound attack under David Shaw. Run-game genius + Stanford academic roots = strong candidate for Virginia.

Jeff Jagodzinski, Georgia State Offensive Coordinator - Knows the ACC, as he was Boston College's head coach after Tom O'Brien left for NC State. Was fired by the Eagles after interviewing for NFL coaching jobs.

Mike Sanford, Jr. Notre Dame Offensive Coordinator - Young and up and coming coordinator for the Irish and former Stanford and Boise State assistant coach.


These are current or former coaches who have been around the block or were possible candidates for the job during the last two searches.

Mack Brown, Former Texas Head Coach - Would be returning to ACC roots after his long, distinguished stretch at UNC. Maker of the CEO-head-coach mold: not as much an Xs and Os guy as many of the others on this list, usually relying on strong coordinators.

Randy Edsall, Former Maryland Head Coach - Lolol please dear god no.

Greg Schiano, Former Tampa Bay Head Coach - Has expressed interest in returning to the college ranks after a brief stint in the NFL. Turned Rutgers into a winner for the first time since the 1890s. Al Groh 2.0?

Ken Niumatalolo, Navy Head Coach - Quietly built a consistent winner despite Navy's tough recruiting standards. If Paul Johnson can make it work in the ACC (2015 notwithstanding), could Coach Ken? Would be worth it to listen to opponents bitch about style of play from August to April.

Bo Pelini, Youngstown St Head Coach - Resume helped if he brings along Twitter god @FauxPelini as well. Probably doesn't have the demeanor to sit well with UVa's big donors or administration, but was a consistent winner at Nebraska by anyone's standards ... other than Nebraska's.

Troy Calhoun, Air Force Head Coach - Replaced the legendary Fisher DeBerry in 2007. Only two losing seasons in his nine years at Air Force, and showed an impressive ability/willingness to rework his approach: after two rough years in 2012-13, his 2014 Falcons were 10-3.

Sonny Dykes, Cal Head Coach - The drumbeat that Dykes wants out of Berkeley is getting stronger with each passing week. Their absurd academic requirements (more strict than anywhere save possibly the Ivy League) look like a hindrance to the Golden Bears' long-term success. Despite that, Dykes brought in a recruiting class last year where 77% of the commits had a high school GPA over 3.0.

Mark Richt, Georgia Head Coach - Only wins nine games a year and plays for conference titles while running a tight ship with discipline and being an all-around fantastic person. Yea, definitely a bad fit for the SEC.

Dan Mullen, Mississippi State Head Coach - As written earlier, Mullen has worked magic at Mississippi State. Taking over after Sylvester Croom's departure in 2008, Mullen took a team that had one winning record in its previous five seasons and brought up to a #1 ranking last year. Since Mullen came to Starkville, MSU has been to a bowl game every season but his first year.

Among NFL Ranks

These are coaches in the NFL who could see more success as a college head coach.

Kurt Roper, Cleveland Browns Assistant Coach - David Cutcliffe protege who could be a package deal with Mike Pettine (see below).

Hue Jackson, Cincinnati Bengals Offensive Coordinator - Has been an NFL coach since 2001, including a head coaching stint with Oakland in 2011. His college roots are mostly on the west coast, with time at Arizona State and USC.

Jay Gruden, Washington Redskins Head Coach - ...Sure? Spurrier did pretty good at South Carolina after leaving the Dan Snyder Sh!tshow, so ... sure?

Chan Gailey, New York Jets Offensive Coordinator - Was a consistent if not spectacular winner at Georgia Tech from 2002-07, making a bowl game every season. His NFL offenses have shown a willingness to run pistol sets and spread the field, so he's at least still tied in to innovations in the college ranks.

Karl Dorrell, New York Jets WR Coach - Spent five seasons as the head coach at UCLA before moving up to offensive assistant gigs in the NFL. His 2005 Bruins were 10-2, but those 8 wins above .500 accounted for ALL of the wins above .500 in his time as a college head coach.

Pep Hamilton, Former Indianapolis Colts Offensive Coordinator - Coached Stanford with Andrew Luck; that worked well. Like Bloomgren, those Stanford roots put him in good stead with a school like Virginia that wants to win but won't sacrifice academic standards to do it.

Kevin Gilbride, New York Giants TE Coach - The son of longtime NFL assistant Kevin Kilbride (yes, you read that correctly), young Kevin was an offensive assistant at Temple under Al Golden. May be a stretch to see him jump straight to head coach, but wouldn't be as surprising to see him as offensive coordinator under Golden somewhere.

UVA Connection

These are coaches and coordinators in the NCAA and NFL who either played or coached at UVA before and may have the desire to return to restore the team to glory.

Al Golden, Former Miami Head Coach - Miami wasn't a good fit for Golden, but he led the Canes through some tough times. Was the youngest defensive coordinator in the country when he was at Virginia and was widely considered one of the brightest young defensive minds in the game. Mentality could be a better fit at UVA.

Jim Grobe, Former Wake Head Coach - A former UVA player and graduate assistant, as a head coach Grobe went 33-33 at Ohio University and 77-82 in 13 seasons at Wake Forest. After peaking in 2006 by winning the ACC and earning National Coach of the Year honors,  he resigned two years ago after five consecutive losing seasons.

Mike Pettine, Cleveland Browns Head Coach - Even though his contract with the Browns is still for two more years, Cleveland has a track record of firing coaches early in their tenure. The former UVA safety could also easily leave voluntarily since the Browns organization is such a mess. His coaching background is mostly NFL defense, but his habit of switching quarterbacks week to week will fit right in.

Derek Dooley, Dallas Cowboys WR Coach - Did OK at Louisiana Tech, then piloted the S.S. Rocky Top straight to the bottom of the sea. He did wear some sweet pants at UT, however. Was a walk on who earned his scholarship at UVA from 1987-1990.

Bill Lazor, Miami Dolphins Offensive Coordinator - Ran the best offenses of the Mike London era, even if that is damned by faint praise. Seemed very eager to get out of Charlottesville and back to the NFL when he left for the Eagles. Was that because of college coaching, or because of one college coach in particular?

Bill Musgrave, Oakland Raiders Offensive Coordinator - Oakland looks like an actual football team this year. UVa's offense was existent when he was offensive coordinator. I guess those both count as victories?

Mike Groh, Chicago Bears WR Coach - Want this just to watch heads explode.

Ron Prince, Detroit Lions TE Coach - #RP4UVA? Head coaching career at Kansas State was short-lived and ignoble, but did lead to the return of the Purple Wizard of Manhattan, so we have that to thank him for.

Hopefully the people in charge of selecting the next coach make a smart choice and return the Hoos to winning ways.