NC State offensive coordinator Dana Bible has already taken over as interim head coach, but athletic director Debbie Yow has a monumental hire to make in replacing former coach Tom O’Brien. While many have jumped to the assumption that Vanderbilt coach James Franklin is at the top of the list, it’s probably not the most realistic choice considering he makes almost $3 million coaching in the SEC. Here are a few more candidates worth serious consideration:
1. Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris: In his second season with the Tigers, Clemson has put up record-setting numbers and quarterback Tajh Boyd made measurable progress. Clemson is No. 6 in the country in scoring offense and No. 8 in total offense. He quickly became one of the hot commodities in the coaching carousel after last year’s ACC championship and built upon that success this year.
2. Kent State coach Darrell Hazell: In his second season, Hazell led the Golden Flashes to an 11-1 record -- the best in the program’s 90-year history -- and the school’s first appearance in the Associated Press Top 25 since 1973. Kent State finished undefeated in the MAC regular season for the first time in school history and will play Northern Illinois for the league title next week. The Golden Flashes are also guaranteed a bowl invitation for the first time since 1972. It was a quick turnaround for the program under the former Ohio State assistant.
3. Northern Illinois coach Dave Doeren: Speaking of the MAC … In just two seasons, Doeren has compiled a 20-4 record, including a 13-1 mark in the MAC. He led the Huskies to the 2011 MAC championship and beat Arkansas State in the GODADDY.com Bowl. This year, NIU won 11 straight games to clinch the school’s third straight appearance in the MAC championship game. Doeren has said publicly he would be interested in other coaching opportunities.
4. Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco: If Yow doesn’t scoop him up, somebody else likely will. In his third season as the coordinator for the Irish, Diaco has been the leader behind the nation’s No. 2 scoring defense. The Irish are No. 6 in the country in scoring defense, and Diaco is a big reason Notre Dame should be playing for the national title this year.