Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Georgia’s Glenn Schumann leads 2024 college football coordinators poised to emerge as head coaching candidates

Of the 14 power conference schools that named new coaches during college football’s coaching carousel, three hired coordinators from other power conference schools. Most notable among them was Michigan, which promoted offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore after Jim Harbaugh left for the Los Angeles Chargers.

Elsewhere, Duke landed Penn State defensive coordinator and former Miami head coach Manny Diaz, while Mississippi State hired Oklahoma offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby. Although seven of those 14 power conference schools opted for sitting head coaches from within the FBS ranks, there is some merit in going the coordinator route.

Other recent coordinator hires by big-brand schools such as Marcus Freeman (Notre Dame) and Brent Venables (Oklahoma) have also shown some promise. The No. 1 coach in this year’s CBS Sports Power Four Coach Rankings, Georgia’s Kirby Smart, was hired away from a coordinator position at Alabama.

Hiring a hot coordinator isn’t foolproof, of course. There are plenty of examples of coveted coordinators struggling to make the transition to becoming a head coach. But the coordinator ranks are poised to keep being a primary source of power conference head coaching hires in the years to come.

So as the 2024 season approaches, who are the coordinators you should have an eye on as potential power conference head coaching options come November and December? Let’s have a look at seven possible candidates. 

College football coordinators to watch in 2024

Glenn Schumann, Georgia defensive coordinator: Given the success that former Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning is having as Oregon’s head coach, it’s only a matter of time before the Bulldogs’ DC gig serves as the launching pad for another head coach. While UGA hasn’t been quite as historically dominant over the past two seasons as it was under Lanning in 2021, Schumann is still orchestrating an elite unit. The 34-year-old started working with Kirby Smart as a student assistant at Alabama in 2008 and has been with him every step of the way as the Bulldogs have grown into the class of college football.

Blake Baker, LSU defensive coordinator: Baker worked wonders with Missouri’s defense over the past two seasons, turning a unit that ranked 105th nationally before he arrived into one that ranked 33rd last season as the Tigers finished 11-2 with a Cotton Bowl victory. If he can do the same at LSU in 2024, look for the 41-year old former Tulane linebacker to get some head coaching looks. He worked as a graduate assistant under Mack Brown at Texas from 2010-12 and has coordinator experience at Miami and now with two SEC programs.

Garrett Riley, Clemson offensive coordinator: After helping orchestrate TCU’s high-flying 2022 attack, Riley was supposed to ignite Clemson’s attack in 2023. But the Tigers ranked 50th in total offense during his first year as offensive coordinator. It will take a big season for the 34-year-old to reclaim the rocket ship trajectory he enjoyed a couple seasons ago. But if the Tigers make a significant offensive jump, Riley has the resume to garner head coaching looks. He played for Mike Leach, his brother is USC coach Lincoln Riley and his last three bosses are Dabo Swinney, Sonny Dykes and Eli Drinkwitz. That’s a strong pedigree.

Andy Kotelnicki, Penn State offensive coordinator: How long before the Lance Leipold coaching tree begins sprouting some significant branches? Kotelnicki worked as Leipold’s offensive coordinator for the past 11 seasons at Wisconsin-Whitewater, Buffalo and Kansas. Now, he’s leaving his mentor to spread his wings as Penn State’s offensive coordinator. If that move produces the results the Nittany Lions hope it does, Kotelnicki’s stock will surge. 


Kane Wommack left his position as head coach at South Alabama to be the DC for Alabama. USATSI

Kane Wommack, Alabama defensive coordinator: Wait, hasn’t he already been a head coach? Yes, Wommack left the top job at South Alabama to join Kalen DeBoer’s first Alabama staff as defensive coordinator. But that doesn’t mean he’s abandoned all head coaching aspirations. At just 37, Wommack could parlay a strong stint with the Crimson Tide into a power conference opportunity. He posted a respectable 22-16 (13-11 Sun Belt) record in three seasons with a Jaguars program that had never finished above .500 before his arrival. He previously worked with DeBoer at Indiana, which further explains why he made the move back to being a coordinator for now.

Travaris Robinson, Georgia co-defensive coordinator: An SEC coaching veteran regarded as an excellent recruiter, Robinson is joining the Georgia staff as co-defensive coordinator after spending the last two seasons as Alabama’s cornerbacks coach. At just 42 and with stops at Auburn, Texas Tech, Florida, South Carolina and Miami also on his resume, Robinson looks ripe to continue rising. Maybe it’s not this year, but don’t be surprised if he gets in the mix for head coaching gigs before long. After all, a mere position coach from Georgia (Fran Brown) landed the head coaching job at Syracuse in this past cycle.

Kirby Moore, Missouri offensive coordinator: Kirby Moore’s older brother, Kellen, may be better known to some football fans since he’s now on his third NFL offensive coordinator gig at just 35. But the little brother is doing just fine. Since graduating from Boise State in 2013, he’s worked for Chris Petersen at Washington, Jeff Tedford and Kalen DeBoer at Fresno State and now Eli Drinkwitz at Missouri. With Drinkwitz taking a step back from play-calling duties last season, Moore directed the offense for an 11-2 team that beat Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl. He probably needs more power conference seasoning before he’s a realistic candidate for a P4 head coaching job. But his stock is rising.

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