Mike Leach has left for the SEC, meaning that Washington State is without a head coach. They won’t have the benefit of having December to search for a new head coach, which could make things trickier. Here are five potential head coaching candidates for Washington State.
1. Alex Grinch
Grinch is a defensive-minded coach, who was formerly at Washington State from 2015 to 2017. He has been the defensive coordinator with the Cougars, Oklahoma and Ohio State. This season at Oklahoma, the defense improved a lot, which helped them make the College Football Playoff for a third straight season.
He was on Leach’s staff and was a part of some of the best seasons in Washington State history. If Grinch wants a head coaching job, Washington State would be lucky to have him. The only question for Grinch is how he would plan to run the offense, as he might want to get an offensive coordinator who can use Leach’s air raid personnel well.
2. Graham Harrell
One of Leach’s proteges will get some consideration for this job in Graham Harrell. Clay Helton wasn’t fired by USC and a lot of that was because Harrell was able to implement the air raid system and win with backup quarterbacks. He also spent time at Washington State as wide receivers coach from 2014-2015.
If Washington State wants a familiar face and for Harrell to run a familiar system, Harrell is the logical hire. He would be able to make the most out of the current roster and recruit for the future well. The only question would be whether he wanted to leave his USC job, which was given new life with Helton returning.
3. Jay Norvell
Norvell has taken a Nevada program that was down on its luck and turned it into a bowl team in a short amount of time. In his first season with the Wolf Pack, Norvell won just three games. He won eight and then seven in his next two seasons.
If the Cougars can’t bring in one of the school’s former assistants and want to go with a coach with experience, Norvell would be a solid choice. He wouldn’t have to turn around the program like he did at Nevada, as Washington State has been successful under Leach’s coaching.
4. Luke Fickell
Fickell has done a great job of turning around Cincinnati. He won four games in his first season with the Bearcats and then won 11 game in each of the last two seasons. Fickell is a defensive-minded coach who could do wonders on that side of the ball for the Cougars.
Washington State would be getting a solid coach in Fickell, but they would have to convince Fickell to leave the state of Ohio. He was a player and assistant at Ohio State before taking the Cincinnati job and may find it harder to recruit on the west coast without his recruiting ties.
5. Sonny Dykes
A coach who has bounced around college football is Sonny Dykes. He has been a head coach at Louisiana Tech, California and SMU. His experience in the Pac-12 and his pass-heavy offense could draw him to this job. He is a former Mike Leach assistant at Texas Tech.
Dykes would come in and make the team look very similar to what it has been over the last few years. Getting Dykes to leave SMU could be tough, as he has started to build a solid program. Washington State could get an experienced coach and one that fits their identity with Dykes.