Earlier today, Scott Frost was fired following the loss to Georgia Southern last night. They fired him before his buyout went down, which was supposed to happen at the beginning of October. He leaves his alma mater with a 16-31 record as head coach. Since it is official, let's take a look at who could potentially replace him in Lincoln.
1. Matt Campbell
Matt Campbell has been the coach of Iowa State since 2016 and has turned that program around. He went 3-9 in his first season but had a winning record each year since. Campbell took the Cyclones from a laughingstock to a respectable program. He also did it in Iowa, where the Hawkeyes have always been the football power. Considering what he has done at a school like Iowa State, imagine what he could do at a school with the resources and fan support that Nebraska has.
2. Luke Fickell
Besides his first season at Cincinnati, Luke Fickell has been nothing but successful as head coach of the Bearcats. He went 4-8 in his first season but has gone 11-2, 11-3, 9-1, and 13-1 since then. He led the first group of five teams to the playoff last season after going undefeated in the regular season and winning the American Conference Championship. I believe that he will be in the running for a power five job, whether it is at Nebraska or somewhere else.
3. Bill O’Brien
Bill O’Brien is the current offensive coordinator at Alabama and has previously been a college head coach at Penn State. He took over at Penn State after the whole Jerry Sandusky situation. O'Brien went 8-4 in his first season and 7-5 in his second, which is remarkable considering the circumstances. He left for the NFL, later returning to college football to be the Alabama offensive coordinator last season. He is one of the best offensive minds in the game, and I would not be surprised if he got looked at for the Nebraska job.
4. Jeff Lebby
Jeff Lebby is one of the great offensive minds in the sport. He helped lead UCF to a 12-1 record and a Fiesta Bowl appearance in 2018 as their QB coach and passing game coordinator. The following year as their offensive coordinator, he lead them to a 10-3 record. Next, Ole Miss hired him as their OC. He stayed there for two seasons before being hired this offseason as offensive coordinator at his alma mater, Oklahoma. As the Ole Miss offensive coordinator, they averaged 39 ppg in 2020 and 34 ppg in 2021. I could see him getting a look from Nebraska and getting his first head coaching opportunity with them.
5. Mark Stoops
It might be hard to take Mark Stoops away from Kentucky, but it would be worth a try. He has done similar things at Kentucky that Matt Campbell has done at Iowa State, he has made them a respectable program and has built a good culture there. Kentucky is no longer a team that others look at as a free win. He led them to a 10-3 record last season, and they won the Citrus Bowl. A lot of people think they will be even better this year. If the Cornhuskers could somehow pull him out of Lexington, I believe that would be a great hire.
6. Dave Aranda
Another good candidate for the job would be Dave Aranda from Baylor. He has completely turned that program around. After going 2-7 in his first season, he led them to a 12-2 record last season. Before losing to BYU last night, Baylor was in the top ten, and they should still be ranked after that. What he has done with that program was very impressive, and I think he could be the best candidate for this job.
7. Lance Leipold
Lance Leipold coached at Buffalo from 2015-2020 before taking the Kansas job. He led them to a ten-win season in 2018, went 8-5 in 2019, and a 6-1 record in the shortened covid season. He took over a Kansas program that hasn’t won more than three games since 2009. He currently has them at 2-0 after they upset West Virginia in overtime last night. He is a very good coach, and it will be interesting to see what he can do at Kansas this season, and potentially at Nebraska in the future.
8. Jim Leonhard
Jim Leonhard is currently the Wisconsin defensive coordinator. He was a player at Wisconsin before playing in the NFL for ten seasons. Leonhard consistently has the Badgers as a top-ten defense in the country. He has been a candidate for the Broyles award. So far, Leonhard has not gotten his chance to be a head coach, but his time is coming. He has the Big Ten ties and could help this Cornhusker program get back on its feet.