Understanding the "A List"
When the ideas of the search plan leaked more than a few scoffed at the idea that any current BCS-level coach would ever consider a move to BC. Even with the chaos of the last 48 hours, there is still some underlying qualities that make the BC job attractive. Per ESPN's Insider:
I know a couple of guys who actually want this job, even if it isn't officially open yet. They saw the ACC as vulnerable, even before this new round of realignment. They think there's room for BC, despite the academic limitations that similarly hamstring Duke and Wake Forest.The three most well-known names to be rumored targets of BC are Dan Mullen, Bill O'Brien and Al Golden. We can assume all three will be contacted. I don't expect any to take the job, but there is still a chance one might. You make the phone call to find out. All three have specific reasons as to why they would take the call.
It's a beautiful city and campus and, let's be honest, the conference isn't that challenging to make the Matt Ryan years seem that distant. A couple of solid players on both sides of the ball, and the Eagles could be equipped to be a conference contender. Frank Spaziani, most everyone believes, is simply in over his head.
By everyone's accounts Dan Mullen has done a great job at Mississippi State. But he is a New Hampshire native and has family ties to New England.
Why would he leave? Remember the Cam Newton scandal. Mullen had successfully recruited Newton only to see Auburn boosters buy off Cam's dad to have him sign with the Tigers. That is the world in which Mullen has to operate. Plus he will always be behind LSU and Alabama is his own division. Mullen will leave Mississippi State. It is only a question of when and which job. He will be a top candidate for all the open SEC jobs.
Why BC? Aside from the family issues, Mullen might want to come to BC to escape the SEC. Even if Tennessee or Auburn come calling with promises of more money and the chance to actually compete with the Sabans and Miles, he still has to get dirty. He still has to recruit borderline kids and he still has to look the other way when someone throws money at these kids. I don't want to say that everyone at BC is a choir boy, but it is definitely a different sort of atmosphere. He can win the division in the ACC. He won't at MSU. Also if he comes to BC and rebuilds successfully, he will then have proven himself twice and be able to get any key job out there.
Will it happen? I don't think so. Mullen is going to have his choice of jobs and despite his ties to the area, I don't think that will be enough to have him pass on Tennessee or Auburn.
O'Brien thought he knew what he was getting into at Penn State. Replacing a legend and healing a community is one thing, but the devastating sanctions were not anticipated.
Why would he leave? Losing coaches rarely get a second chance to be a head coach. Even though the team is playing well and even though he is saying the right things, Penn State will be playing with one hand behind their back for the next five years. If O'Brien presides over PSU's decline, no one is ever going to offer him a big time gig again.
Why BC? O'Brien was married in St. Ignatius. His wife is a BC grad. He grew up in the Boston suburbs. He dreamed of coaching in the ACC. He wanted the BC job last year, but BC didn't fire Spaz.
Will it happen? O'Brien has been very non-committal in his recent interviews. Any coach who leaves a school after one year is going to get vilified in the media and on the recruiting trail, but I have to imagine where there is smoke there is fire. Why wouldn't he be more demonstrative in his love and desire to stay at Penn State? He was gung ho right after the sanctions. Has the reality kicked in? If he's going to bail on Penn State, he will only do it for a job he really wants and in a place where he really wants to be.
Even going back to his days at BC, Golden's name always managed to float for a bigger and better opportunity. Now that Miami is facing huge sanctions, his name is popping up again.
Why would he leave? Golden is a smart guy and a guy who is always thinking about his next move. When he took the Miami job, I am sure he worked through scenarios in which he would leave and don't think BC would have been on that "Next Job" list. You take Miami as a path to National Championships or the NFL. But a bomb went off shortly into his first year and there are looming sanctions. His AD bailed and the school self-imposed a second bowl ban. Like O'Brien he needs to get out before sanctions sink his W-L record and his long-term career prospects.
Why BC? If not for timing, Golden would have been BC's head coach. He took the Temple job in 2006. If he had stayed at UVA one more year, Gene probably would have hired him. Our old AD couldn't steal him from Temple after one 1-11 season. Al could have replaced Jags too, but Gene never really looked beyond Spaz. Now BC would be a safe haven. He could rebuild and still be positioned for a very good job in four or five years.
Will it happen? Of the "A List," this is the most probable. He wants out and there are only so many jobs. He will be in the mix for the SEC spots, but I don't see them rushing to hire Golden. To them he is some guy who has been "ok" at Miami. BC fans on the other hand know about his recruiting and work ethic, know what a miracle the Temple rebuild was and know that he was dealt a bad hand at Miami.