Mike Leach of Texas Tech would be my choice to be the next head coach in the Big 10. There are at least two coaches on the hot seat at the moment, at Illinois and Wisconsin, and although Illini athletic director Ron Guenther is standing behind Ron Zook through the 2010 season, alumni aren't too happy about what is happening in Champaign.
Leach brings an exciting, innovative offense to college football. He is quirky but intelligent and seems to be one step ahead of everyone else offensively. He has proven to be a good recruiter but hasn't been able to beat Texas head-to-head, although he has begun to land blue-chippers because of the high-profile games he has won.
Here is a man who has a reputation as a players' coach, a good recruiter and a good evaluator of talent but, most of all, a good teacher of the offense he has invented.
You've probably seen him doing interviews on ESPN. He is personable and outgoing and maybe a bit on the over-the-top side. He is a media darling, no doubt about that. But coaching in Lubbock, which is akin to Iowa City or Madison or Champaign or West Lafayette or Bloomington, he has proven to be competitive with some of the elite programs in the country.
I haven't seen anyone like him in all my 30 years of evaluating high school players. He could stay in the Big 12. His rising popularity probably would allow him to recruit well in Texas, where there is enough talent to go around. But the Big 10 would be another world to conquer and he might be ready for the challenge.
Look around you, Big 10 fans. There is no prolific offense in the conference. Ohio State and Terrelle Pryor aren't what they were supposed to be, not yet. Zook arrived at Illinois with much fanfare and struck gold in one Rose Bowl appearance--but he has faded quickly and badly. Kirk Ferentz seems to have regained some magic at Iowa. But how long will it last? Will Rich Rodriguez turn Michigan around?
Leach doesn't have super talent at Texas Tech--Michael Crabtrees come along only once in a decade--but if he was able to recruit where he doesn't have to compete with Texas or Oklahoma, there could be no stopping him.
And wouldn't you love to see his offense in the Big 10?