Vanderbilt's search for its next head coach is heating up, as St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is interviewing for the opening today, NFL sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter.
With Schottenheimer in charge of the Rams' offense during the 2013 season, St. Louis ranked 22nd in scoring but 30th in total yards. The Rams finished the season 7-9, but played more than half of the year without starting quarterback Sam Bradford.
While he didn't have a talked-about college career, Schottenheimer spent three years as a backup quarterback at Florida from 1994-1996. So he does have some knowledge of the SEC. While Schottenheimer has spent the majority of his coaching career in the pro ranks, he did coach wide receivers at Syracuse in 1999 and tight ends at USC in 2000.
Schottenheimer has received mixed reviews as an offensive coordinator, so it would be interesting to see him as a head coach at the college ranks. But with his offensive mind, he could help continue the trend of Vanderbilt's more explosive offenses it had under former coach James Franklin, who left to become Penn State's coach.
But Schottenheimer isn't the only name being thrown around for the Vandy opening. Sources told Schefter and ESPN's Joe Schad that Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason, Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton and Vanderbilt offensive line coach Herb Hand are also candidates for the job.
One advantage to promoting Hand would be keeping continuity with the approach that Franklin took when it came to running this football team. Hand brings the same sort of energy and enthusiasm that made Franklin so popular with players and on the recruiting trail. It would also help preserve part of a solid recruiting class that has been shaken by Franklin's departure.
Vandy athletic director David Williams has said that he has received a lot of interesting in the opening. On Saturday, David said "there's already a list of 20-25 people who've reached out to us," which is a far cry from where the interest in this job was before Franklin took the job. That's a good sign for a program seeking to remain relevant in the SEC after the job Franklin did during his 24-15 record in three years.