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TCU Coaching Rumor Mill: Leader(s) in the Clubhouse

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 19 Louisiana at Georgia State Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Since the moment news broke that Gary Patterson and TCU were parting ways, Frog fans have been curious to see who takes over in the head role.

TCU Athletic Director Jeremiah Donati gave clues last Tuesday as to who TCU is considering to be the next head coach. During his press conference, Donati was asked about what qualities he’s looking for in the next coach, and he gave us these hints:

  • Not necessarily required to have Texas ties, although that would be nice
  • Currently a head coach/head coaching experience
  • Potentially more offensive-minded (Donati went on to talk about how it might be ‘unfair’ to have a more defensive-minded coach try to fill Patterson’s shoes).

TCU conducted seven interviews last week, including Tony Elliott and Billy Napier, and are continuing to have more conversations this week.

With that in mind, here’s an updated list of potential candidates for TCU’s coaching vacancy.

Sonny Dykes | SMU HC

Dykes still feels like the leader in the clubhouse, although the field is catching up. Dykes currently has a contract extension with SMU sitting on his desk waiting to be signed, but Dykes has not yet put pen to paper.

TCU is a compelling job for Dykes, who has elevated SMU’s program exponentially in less than four full seasons on the job.

Pros: He knows Texas, offensively he’s highly regarded, and he understands how to market and recruit in the new era of NIL and social media.

Cons: Dykes is just 70-60 all time as a head coach, including a lone P5 stint at Cal that saw his teams go 19-30. I’m not sure

Billy Napier | Louisiana HC

Napier has interviewed with TCU, and is one of the hottest names in coaching right now. His desires to one day coach in the SEC are pretty well known. That being said, He’s turned Louisiana into a G5 powerhouse, taking them to a 36-12 record (including 8-1 this year).

Napier already turned down interviews with Auburn and South Carolina in the past, so why would TCU be different? At a non-SEC P5 school he’d be able to build a respectable winner, earn more recognition, and do so without losing favor (by beating them) with the people around the job it seems he wants: Alabama.

Pros: Napier has proven he can build a winner and recruit well, just look at Louisiana’s program historically before he got there.

Cons: If he builds a winner at TCU, how long will he stay? Is this even really a con? I’m not sure.

Tony Elliott | Clemson OC

Elliott interviewed with TCU last week, and it’s easy to see why TCU is interested. Elliott has had a hand in Clemson’s offense for the last decade, including as co-OC from 2015-19 and OC in 2020.

In 2021, Elliott was promoted to Assistant Head Coach along with his title of Offensive Coordinator.

Pros: Elliott has the offensive mind to lead a quality offense.

Cons: Elliott, a Clemson grad and native of California, doesn’t have ties to Texas, nor has he ever been a head coach.

Matt Campbell | Iowa State HC

Campbell is being reported as a candidate by both Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star Telegram. Would Campbell seriously leave Iowa State for TCU? Who knows, but what’s fact is how Campbell has elevated Iowa State into a national brand. And he’s done it while still not managing to win against key rivals or conference championships.

Pros: Has recruited well and elevated an Iowa State program that has always had the deck stacked against them.

Cons: No Texas ties- is a Midwesterner through and through. Has only finished with fewer than three losses in Big 12 play once.

Jay Norvell | Nevada HC

Norvell has been the head coach at Nevada since 2017, where he’s accumulated a 32-24 record. Prior to Nevada Norvell spent time as an assistant under Bob Stoops at Oklahoma, and one season at Texas as their WR coach (he also had play-calling duties for a portion of that season).

Pros: Has experience recruiting Texas, is an offensive-minded coach.

Cons: Has never managed to win the Mountain West, is just 3-5 against P5 schools.

Jamey Chadwell | Coastal Carolina HC

Chadwell has turned Coastal Carolina into a known commodity, which is an impressive feat in and of itself. He’s clearly got the coaching chops to turn lightly recruited prospects into on-field demons, which was a Gary Patterson staple in his two decades on campus.

Pros: Offensive minded, can develop talent.

Cons: No Texas ties, had to vacate wins at Charleston Southern.

Chris Petersen | Former Washington HC

Petersen is an interesting name, considering TCU fans knew him well when he was at Boise State. With an overall record (147-39) that rivals Patterson’s, Petersen knows what it takes to build a program into a lasting giant.

Pros: Recruited Texas moderately well when at BSU, has had success wherever he has coached. Offensively brilliant.

Cons: Has already retired once because he was physically and mentally exhausted.

Kellen Moore | Dallas Cowboys OC

Moore is a rising star in the coaching ranks, and it seems like he’ll be an NFL head coach before he’s a head coach in college. That being said, Moore seems to have a legitimate interest in TCU, and TCU in him, although the two parties actually getting together is a longshot.

Pros: Offensive genius.

Cons: Never been a HC, no Texas ties, unsure how he would handle NIL issues and recruiting.

Deion Sanders | Jackson State HC

Another candidate that’s a longshot, Coach Prime’s people reached out to TCU to express an interest in the job opening. There’s no doubt that hiring Deion Sanders would bring a lot of attention to the program.

Pros: He’s a head coach with Texas ties, can recruit on his name, understands NIL, and has had success in a short stint at Jackson State.

Cons: Would his brand outshine the programs? How do we process his history with things like Prime Prep as a part of his legacy?