"I just wanna coach," Todd Graham said on the High Motor podcast last week. A day later, this question was asked on Reddit CFB: "If all 130 FBS head coaches were removed and each team couldn't hire another current FBS head coach, who would your team hire?" My mind jumped into a bottomless pit of meaningless (and surprisingly challenging) hypotheticals.
I started with the Big 12. If every Big 12 head coach was wiped out by Charlie Weis' demons, who might each program target?
Baylor – Dave Aranda
Reeling from the sexual assault scandal in late 2016, new athletics director Mack Rhoades tapped a Group of Five coach who never coached anywhere near Texas. He could pick anyone if tied with these unrealistic constraints.
Dave Aranda has rejected several head-coaching offers and interviews during the last six years as defensive coordinator at Wisconsin (2013-15) and LSU (2016-present).
Iowa State – Jon Heacock
I think Iowa State would be terrified to halt the momentum. While an outside successor would inherit a more stable and competitive program than Matt Campbell did three years ago, I'm still opting for the safe, in-house promotion of the Cyclones' 58-year-old defensive coordinator who's been with Campbell since 2014.
Kansas – Beau Baldwin
Mark Mangino isn't coming back. And hard passes on more retreads like Jim Leavitt, Bret Bielema, and Larry Fedora.
Go outside the box with a proven FCS head coach who's learning under, in my opinion, the next big thing in college football, Justin Wilcox, at Cal.
Would Jeff Long make this hire? I'd be surprised.
Kansas State – Scottie Hazelton
Kansas State defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton will be an FBS head coach in the near future.
After a few outstanding seasons in the same position at Wyoming, Hazelton reunited in Manhattan with former NDSU colleague Chris Klieman. He's done well with limited resources and has strong recruiting relationships across the region.
Oklahoma – Alex Grinch
Alex Grinch is Lincoln Riley. A young, innovative coordinator whom no one knew about a few years ago tasked with fixing an Achilles' heel. (Granted, Oklahoma's pre-Riley offense wasn't as miserable as their current defense, but the offense was often mediocre before Riley arrived in 2015).
Given the smooth transition from Stoops to Riley, Oklahoma may opt to play it safe with another in-house promotion. Like Kansas State's Klieman-to-Hazelton guess, this move would look a hell of a lot better with one strong year under Grinch's belt. However, we're playing this game this year, not next year.
Oklahoma State – Brent Venables
One of the nation's longest-tenured athletics directors, Mike Holder (since 2005), has never hired a head football coach. He's from Oklahoma, played golf at Oklahoma State and led the Cowboys' golf program for 32 years before becoming athletics director.
Recently floated by the Tulsa World's Bill Haisten as a potential successor to Gundy, Zac Robinson is the Los Angeles Rams' assistant quarterbacks coach. While that makes sense five or 10 years from now — and it's easy to see Holder targeting a young Oklahoma State man who could lead the program for decades — a 32-year-old with zero seasons of coaching experience isn't inheriting a Big 12 program.
Throw the kitchen sink at the most sought-after assistant in the country (and former longtime Oklahoma assistant), Brent Venables.
TCU – Sonny Cumbie
Even with a new athletics director, Gary Patterson has reached the point in his career where he might have juice in the search for his successor. Without constraints, I'd bet former Horned Frogs' offensive coordinator Justin Fuente is at the top of their list. With the constraints, look at their current offensive coordinator, Sonny Cumbie.
Cumbie has passed on other coordinator jobs and FBS head-coaching interviews to remain at TCU for the last five seasons.
Texas – Tim Beck
Flip a coin.
Like Oklahoma, it's challenging to picture a non-current FBS head coach filling one of the most desirable jobs in sports. They could chase a few NFL head coaches like Zac Taylor, Mike Tomlin or Mike Vrabel, or Venables, Aranda or another high-profile FBS assistant. Instead, offensive coordinator Tim Beck is the safe play given his Power Five experience, strong recruiting and progress with the offense.
Texas Tech – Todd Graham
Another Graham, Graham Harrell, would get some play here, too.
Texas Tech already did the young, quarterback alum hire with Kliff Kingsbury. It didn't work, and who knows if that scared off Kirby Hocutt and the Red Raiders' powerbrokers. Regardless, I think Hocutt targets an experienced head coach who's recruited every corner of the state.
West Virginia – Jake Spavital
Jake Spavital might've had an outside shot at the West Virginia job had he passed on Texas State and remained in Morgantown until Dana Holgorsen bailed for Houston.
He's young (34), damn smart and has six seasons of Power Five coordinator experience.