After a 1-2 start to the season, Nebraska has fired head football coach Scott Frost. He was in his fifth season as head coach. The interim head coach will be Mickey Joseph. Here are potential head coach candidates for the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
1. P.J. Fleck
P.J. Fleck started his career as a head coach out at Western Michigan. He led the Broncos to a New Year’s Six Bowl Game and posted a 30-22 overall record at the school. That was following a 1-11 start in his first season. He then took the Minnesota job in 2017. He has a 37-23 record with the Golden Gophers and had one of their best seasons in history in 2019, when they finished with 11 wins.
Fleck’s name has been on the coaching market before because of his ability to build programs. He did it at both Western Michigan and Minnesota. Nebraska could use someone like him to help return the Cornhuskers to their former glory. With more resources and a bigger brand to work with, Fleck could be the best head coach of the 21st century for Nebraska. The only question is whether he would leave one Big Ten West school for another.
2. Bret Bielema
Bielema has started to find his groove at Illinois, as the Fighting Illini started the year 2-1. He had a 5-7 record in his first year with the program and is clearly still building. While his time at Arkansas wasn’t great (he finished with a 29-34 career record), he had plenty of success at Wisconsin. With the Badgers, he had four seasons of double-digit wins and two Rose Bowl appearances.
Another Big Ten West coach could be the answer for Nebraska. Bielema has done well in the Big Ten and produces a physical brand of football. He may never be able to get Nebraska to the same level of success as he had Wisconsin, but he can right the ship and get them bowl-eligible on a pretty consistent basis.
3. Bill O’Brien
Bill O’Brien has plenty of NFL experience as an offensive coordinator and as a head coach which can be appealing. He does also have two years at Penn State as a head coach. In a very difficult situation taking over for Joe Paterno and plenty of NCAA limitations, O’Brien won 15 games in two seasons. Now, he is the offensive coordinator at Alabama under Nick Saban.
If O’Brien can succeed at the collegiate level under the extreme circumstances at Penn State, getting Nebraska back on track is something he can do. The time spent at Alabama has helped plenty of coaches bounce back from adversity in their coaching careers and if he finishes out the season strong with the Crimson Tide, Nebraska could come calling.
4. Chris Kleiman
Kleiman was the head coach of FCS-level powerhouse North Dakota State from 2014 to 2018. He won four national championships with North Dakota State before getting a job with Kansas State. With the Wildcats, he has a 22-16 record. He has been bowl eligible in two different seasons and the Wildcats are 2-0 to start the 2022 season.
Not only has Kleiman proven to be able to coach, but he also pulled off some upsets of FBS teams when he was the head coach of North Dakota State. Nebraska won’t always have the best talent on the field, but getting a coach who can make up for that is important. Kleiman has coached in the area and also has some good recruiting ties. While he won’t be the biggest name on the Nebraska coaching list, he could really pay off for the Cornhuskers.
5. Jim Leonard
Leonard was a player and now a defensive coordinator for Wisconsin. He was able to hang around in the NFL for around 10 seasons before returning to the Badgers as a defensive backs coach. After a season he was promoted to defensive coordinator where he has received praise for continually putting good units on the field.
While Leonard may want to stay at his alma mater, it isn’t likely that he has a chance for advancement in his immediate future. Paul Cryst is the head coach and his job is pretty safe. If Leonard wants to be a head coach, he may have to go elsewhere. His defensive mind would be an asset to Nebraska as they try to rebuild the program.
Make sure to check out our college football page for more content like 5 Potential Head Coach Candidates for the Nebraska Cornhuskers!