Bloody Sunday in the college football coaching ranks has come to a close. We know who's hitting the bricks, but who's going to be replacing them?
Per usual, athletic directors will be making eyes at the Chris Petersens and Gary Pattersons of the coaching fraternity. You'll probably hear some wild rumors about egomaniacal boosters with more money than sense putting together an absurd package to lure Nick Saban away from Alabama, too.
Those aside, here's a look at some of the less obvious names to know. I've also included some potential landing spots, based purely on my own whimsy and fanciful creation.
Hugh Freeze – Head Coach, Arkansas State
Assuming you read things other than sports blogs – and don't go getting all high and mighty if you do – you might know Freeze as Michael Oher's high school coach in Michael Lewis' The Blind Side.
He has turned out to be a pretty good college coach, too. Behind a Red Wolves defense that has been putting opponents in the cooler, Mr. Freeze won a Sun Belt Conference title in his first year and produced one of the best non-AQ teams in the country.
Future Employer: Ole Miss?
Manny Diaz – Defensive Coordinator, Texas
You're probably so caught up in the ongoing soap opera regarding UT's prime position in college football's power structure that you haven't noticed the Longhorns are playing football this year. On the defensive side of the ball, in fact, they're playing extraordinarily well.
College football junkies recognized Diaz as an up-and-comer from his year as defensive coordinator at Mississippi State. In his one year at Texas, he arguably has the D playing at a higher level than predecessor Will Muschamp.
Diaz has gone from star-in-the-making to bonafide coaching star, but don't be shocked if he bides his time at Texas and makes a play for Mack Brown's chair when UT's current coach hangs it up.
Future Employer: Arizona State?
Brent Venables – Defensive Coordinator, Oklahoma
Despite being a fairly young guy, Venables has been coordinating Bob Stoops' defense for eight years. His name has come up in coaching searches before, but he seems to have even greater traction now than ever before.
Venables's grooming under Stoops makes him an attractive candidate, and he has a reputation as an ace recruiter. At some point, he'll get a shot.
Future Employer: Kansas?
Garrick McGee – Offensive Coordinator, Arkansas
Yes, Bobby Petrino is arguably the best offensive mind alive. No, that shouldn't affect your perception of McGee.
Like Venables, McGee is a Broyles Award nominee this season as the nation's top assistant coach. McGee has played a huge role at Arkansas in not only overseeing the Razorbacks offense, but polishing up Ryan Mallett and Tyler Wilson as NFL prospects, too. He's probably not the best quarterbacks coach in the country, but damn if he isn't way up there.
You also have to imagine that McGee won't be asking for the moon salary-wise, making him a great value.
Future Employer: UAB?
Pat Narduzzi – Defensive Coordinator, Michigan State
Mark Dantonio is a name that would certainly generate some interest nationally. With Urban Meyer presumably taking over at Ohio State, I doubt any other jobs out there would interest Michigan State's head coach that much.
How about Dantonio's defensive lieutenant? Narduzzi has served as Dantonio's defensive coordinator since 2004. The work he has done molding the Spartans' defense into one of the Big Ten's best year in and year out over the past five seasons is tough to ignore, particularly the last two.
As was the case with Dantonio when he left Ohio State, Narduzzi may be well-served grabbing a mid-major job now and parlaying that into a bigger gig down the road.
Future Employer: Akron?