Head coaching opportunities could beckon for these SEC assistants
When asked to compile a list of SEC assistants who will one day become head coaches, I tried to stay away from some of the most obvious names while attempting to look beyond simply naming some of the best coordinators the conference has to offer.
It’s a more complicated question than you may realize, too. Sure, Dave Aranda may be the nation’s best defensive coordinator, but does he really desire to be a head coach? He is already being paid more or has more guaranteed money than many head coaches, including some in the SEC, so money may not be a factor for the LSU DC.
Guys like Mississippi State DC Bob Shoop, Texas A&M DC Mike Elko, Auburn DC Kevin Steele and Missouri OC Derek Dooley have either already been head coaches or have been interviewed for head coaching jobs in recent hiring cycles, so I left their names off the board.
With all that said, here are five names to watch as future head coaches in college football:
Georgia inside linebackers coach Glenn Schumann
One of the few unknowns on Kirby Smart’s first Georgia coaching staff, Schumann has quickly developed into a major asset for the football program in Athens. Don’t be surprised if he’s Smart’s top choice to replace Mel Tucker and become Georgia’s defensive coordinator heading into the 2019 season.
Promoting an assistant who has been on staff all three years Smart has been back in Athens may not astonish on the face of it, but it will turn heads around the league if the 28-year-old Schumann gets the job. Here’s why it shouldn’t – Schumann has been working on the same staff as Smart dating back to 2008.
He’s noted as an elite recruiter and served an integral part in developing the SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2017, Roquan Smith. Considering how much time he has spent coaching under Nick Saban and Smart, he’s bound to be among the next coaches schools come calling for when they attempt to recreate the success of Alabama and Georgia.
Mississippi State offensive coordinator/receivers coach Luke Getsy
It would be understandable if some luster came off Getsy following his first season in Starkville, but don’t expect that to be the case for much longer. Some growing pains were certainly to be expected for Joe Moorhead’s first Mississippi State staff, and in particular for Getsy following his four-year stint with the Green Bay Packers. During his time with the Packers, Getsy worked with arguably the best quarterback in the NFL and some of the best receivers.
Now that he’s back at the collegiate level, Getsy will be an integral member of Moorhead’s staff as it looks to transition the Bulldogs away from the one-man show that Nick Fitzgerald has been over the previous two seasons. Moorhead wisely chose Getsy to be his OC when he got the job in Starkville, as the former record-setting Akron quarterback played under Moorhead during his collegiate career and understands the system better than anyone.
The two coaches will now be tasked with getting the program’s next starting QB ready to go, and with the receivers and tight ends entering Year 2 of the offense, the transition should be much smoother this offseason. If Mississippi State’s offense delivers on the promise that was being sold upon Moorhead’s arrival, a coach with multiple years of NFL experience is going to become that much more attractive to ADs across the nation.
Florida cornerbacks coach Charlton Warren
A product of the Air Force Academy, Warren is known as a no-nonsense coach who demands respect and accountablity, while at the same time being a coach players can relate to and enjoy playing hard for. He has proven he can deliver results immediately and has a real eye for talent when it comes to defensive backs.
Warren has now been on two SEC coaching staffs in as many seasons and has found major success at both stops, first in Knoxville and now in Gainesville. Working for Tennessee and in Gainesville, Warren has coached up his units to some impressive results.
While Tennessee’s run defense was a mess in 2017, ranking 126th in the nation, the pass defense ranked third. Obviously, those results were skewed by the anemic run defense, but that’s still impressive when you consider the Vols were relying on players who, outside of Rashaan Gaulden and Nigel Warrior, had no business playing at the SEC level. To further that point, Tennessee started two true freshman corners once Jeremy Pruitt took over and just had another DB transfer this week in Marquill Osborne.
In his first season in Gainesville, Warren helped lead true freshman Trey Dean to SEC All-Freshman honors. It’s worth noting that Warren had Dean committed at Tennessee and also had South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn, another All-Freshman selection this season, committed to the Vols. For the Gators, he has helped land 2019 4-star Jaydon Hill over Tennessee and South Carolina. Florida’s pass defense finished second in the SEC in Warren’s first season.
Alabama co-offensive coordinator/receivers coach Josh Gattis
One of the hottest names in the world of rising college football coaches, it seems like a matter of when, not if, Gattis lands a head coaching job. His name has already begun to pop up on the radars of smaller schools, but should Gattis stay at Alabama for at least another season, he’s likely to land a nice head coaching job in the near future.
Prior to landing a job on Nick Saban’s staff, Gattis worked under James Franklin at Penn State and Vanderbilt. Under Gattis’ guidance at Penn State, Chris Godwin and DaeSean Hamilton both developed into NFL players, while Juwan Johnson has emerged as a legitimate top target for the Nittany Lions. Perhaps even more impressive was what Gattis helped Jordan Matthews accomplish in Nashville. The two-time All-American set multiple SEC records before going on to an NFL career.
Since joining the Crimson Tide, Gattis has worked with the likes of Jerry Jeudy, Jaylen Waddle, Henry Ruggs III and DeVonta Smith, who all have delivered the best seasons of their young careers. In addition to his ability to coach, Gattis is well-known for his ability to identify and secure talent on the recruiting trail. All of that made him an attractive candidate for Saban, who had never worked with him, to offer the co-OC and receivers coach role last offseason.
South Carolina offensive coordinator/receivers coach Bryan McClendon
Of all the coaches listed here, McClendon is most likely the closest to landing a head coaching position. After a brief stint in the NFL, the former Georgia receiver landed a coaching position in Athens and worked on some of the better Georgia teams of the Mark Richt era. McClendon even served as interim coach for Georgia following the end of Richt’s time in Athens.
McClendon inherited a unit largely devoid of talent upon his arrival at Columbia, and he not only recruited but developed South Carolina’s receiving corps into one of the SEC’s best in three seasons. During that time, Deebo Samuel has emerged as one of the nation’s most explosive players and Bryan Edwards into the team’s most consistent and dependable receiver, while OrTre Smith and Shi Smith round out an excellent unit.
This season McClendon was promoted to offensive coordinator, and that decision, after an inconsistent start, has really paid off for Will Muschamp. South Carolina’s offense put up some impressive numbers down the stretch and was capped by one of the most impressive performances by a QB in school history with Jake Bentley’s 500-yard, 5-touchdown game at Clemson. Not since Stephen Garcia’s Alabama game has a Gamecocks QB put up an individual performance as impressive as that.
Samuel will be gone to the NFL, but should Bentley return, the South Carolina offense will be in position to do big things in 2019. If McClendon can carry over the momentum gained down the stretch into the bowl season, the summer and next season, look for the offensive coordinator to be a hot commodity on the head coaching market by this time next season.