North Dakota State’s Chris Klieman and Troy’s Neal Brown lead at K-State. Plus: Will Jim Leavitt remain at Oregon? And will Temple continue a pattern?
1. Kansas State’s search for Bill
1. Kansas State’s search for Bill Snyder’s replacement is coming to a close.
Multiple sources tell SB Nation that Kansas State will formally wrap up its coaching search soon to replace Bill Snyder.
One source tells us that the Wildcats are leaning toward hiring North Dakota State head coach Chris Klieman. He’s been with the Bison since 2011, when they started their run of six FCS national titles in seven years. He’s been the head coach for the last three and has NDSU in the national semifinals again this year.
If Klieman is the guy, he’ll beat out Troy’s Neal Brown for the gig. Brown’s been in the running for his fair share of jobs the last couple years, including Texas Tech and Louisville this cycle. Brown is a young guy (38) with bonafides at the Group of 5 level. He’s gone into one Death Valley and beaten LSU after losing to Clemson by 6 in the other Death Valley the year before. The guy can coach and at some point will get his Power 5 shot, whether it’s in Manhattan or somewhere else.
A legend’s exit rarely goes as scripted, but Snyder’s from K-State’s has been odd in its own way. The news was scooped and reported the Friday after the 5-7 regular season ended. Kansas State then actually announced the news on one of the most crowded news days of the college football year, with Playoff and bowl announcements flying around the day after Championship Saturday.
With Snyder’s name on the stadium, and his contractually stipulated role as a “special ambassador” in place, it is hard to get away from his influence.
One easy way to do that is to let his successor hire his own coaching staff. It seems like there had been some hangup on Kansas State’s end about whether the school would actually let that happen. It’s reportedly one of the reasons why North Texas coach Seth Littrell took his name out of the running in Manhattan.
A name to look for Klieman to bring with him, should he get the job, would be Wyoming defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton. The two briefly overlapped on Craig Bohl’s NDSU stuff, and Hazelton eventually joined Bohl in Laramie.
It’s more about hiring your own guys as a concept than anything to do with the coaches Kansas State has in place now, specifically. If you’re a potential K-State head coach, you already know how hard it is to replace The Guy. Why do it if you don’t have as much carte blanche as possible to form your own program?
2. Will Jim Leavitt stay on as Oregon defensive coordinator?
A name often linked to the Kansas State program in the past, Leavitt missed out on that job as well as others this cycle, including Texas Tech and Colorado. We’re told he interviewed at Tech, echoing other reports on the Red Raiders’ search.
It remains to be seen if Leavitt will return to Eugene for another season with current head coach Mario Cristobal. Cristobal didn’t hire Leavitt; Willie Taggart did, and Leavitt stayed on after Cristobal replaced Taggart following 2017.
The combination of Leavitt’s aggressive courting of open jobs with him not being chosen by the current Ducks head coach could mean a transition is happening either way.
3. Temple is vetting top assistant coaches to replace Geoff Collins, who left for the head job at Georgia Tech.
Temple has quietly become one of the best springboard jobs in the Group of 5, as the formerly moribund program has pushed its last four head coaches, all assistants when originally hired, to Power 5 head coaching gigs.
Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and Mississippi State DC Bob Shoop are names that fit the mold. SB Nation can confirm Temple has communicated with Diaz.
Current interim head coach Ed Foley is interviewing for the job, too.
Another career assistant is Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mike Elko, who Football Scoop reports is on the Owls’ radar.
While it’s been reported that Alabama co-OC and receivers coach Josh Gattis is interested in the job, we’re told the Owls haven’t reached out for an interview. Former Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley is courting Gattis to join him at Maryland.