College Football Insider

Coaching Changes Daily: Dantonio on Texas' radar? Is Pelini safe?

Mark Dantonio says he sees Michigan State as a destination, not a stop. (USATSI)
Mark Dantonio says he sees Michigan State as a destination, not a stop. (USATSI)

1. Doubt he's interested – and he pretty much shut the door on Texas in a press conference this week – but there's strong industry buzz Michigan State's Mark Dantonio is on Texas' radar as search firm Korn/Ferry does preliminary research for AD Steve Patterson.

Expect Texas to cast a wide net, and Dantonio's model works. He's averaged more than 10 wins per year since 2010 at Michigan State without the top resources in the Big Ten.

But Dantonio, who has a $2 million annuity coming his way plus a potential contract reworking with AD Mark Hollis, had the best quote among coaches asked at a recent press conference.

“I see Michigan State as a destination, not a stop,” said Dantonio, according to MLive.com. “Flattering, but that's how I see it.”

Coaches typically fall in two categories, those hungry for change and those with a steady situation that's not worth abandoning. I'd put Dantonio in the latter category.

But the names that are popping up as intruging Texas, such as Dantonio and Stanford's David Shaw, would indicate Patterson sees value in a polished, high-integrity, no-nonsense coach.

Keep in mind, Texas also needs a coach who can handle the Texas pressure-cooker -- shaking hands and patting backs like Mack Brown did masterfully, and Brian Kelly does well at Notre Dame. Not every coach can do that, and Dantonio probably doesn't need that headache.

2. Paging Nebraska's Bo Pelini…Are all coaches safe now that the silly season is well into late December? You'd think so, but nothing's guaranteed.

The logic is if Nebraska was going to fire Pelini, it would have happened by now. That Pelini is owed $150,000 per month left on his contract if fired -- that's $7.5 million in December -- is still hard to ignore.

Would that change if Nebraska gets blown out in the Gator Bowl against Georgia? I still think Pelini would be fine, and his record would still be a strong 57-25. Who else is Nebraska gonna get?

But there is precedent for bowl performance sparking change. Minnesota fired Glen Mason in 2006 after the Gophers blew a 31-point lead to Texas Tech in the Insight Bowl.

Recruiting is dead until mid-February, so that's not really a factor here.

Again, Pelini seems safe to me, but it's worth asking whether he's completely escaped the heat.

3. With NFL's ‘Black Monday' looming Dec. 30, January could be a bigger month for coaching hires than December.

The combined record of the NFL's five most recent college-to-pro coaches is 39-31, and that includes the sub-par performances of the Bills' Doug Marrone and the Bucs' Greg Schiano. This record is promising enough for at least one NFL team to dive into the college game.

The Texans job is already open, and the jobs with the Redskins, Vikings and Titans will likely follow.

With a slow college market resulting in 11 head FBS openings thus far, Texas and the NFL can create a ripple effect. If Penn State's Bill O'Brien bites on an NFL job, the Nittany Lions would likely target a top head coach similar to Texas' approach.

Then, the coaching carousel would swirl, swirl.

4. Lane Kiffin could be among the fired head coaches heading to the NFL for a position coaching job.

Don't fight it, Lane. If a college head-coaching job isn't happening this year, go coach offensive linemen or receivers in an NFL city.

This plan also makes sense for former UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni, who coached with the Dolphins and Cowboys from 2005-10.

5. Things could be getting heavy with Army and Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan.

He reportedly interviewed this week, he's a West Point grad and a two-time assistant. Ohio State co-OC Ed Warinner also makes sense.

 
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