Paul Haynes was fired as Kent State’s head coach on Nov. 22. It’s now Dec. 13 and all but two FBS head coaching jobs have been filled — one of them being Kent State. So, what’s going on?
Well, before explaining this year’s search, we remind you that Kent State AD Joel Nielsen shopped the job to a number of coaches last year; but ultimately could not find any takers and brought Paul Haynes back for another season. So, heading into this offseason surely he had someone ready to go, right?
Well, by all indications, the answer to that is yes. This search unquestionably was focused on South Dakota head coach Bob Nielson. The 58-year-old has been the head coach at six schools since 1989, including a very successful run at Division II Minnesota Duluth, and took the Coyotes to the FCS playoffs this season after a 4-7 debut. Alas, sources tell FootballScoop Nielson turned down the opportunity to lead Kent State, and has since publicly confirmed he intends to remain at South Dakota.
Once Bob Nielson decided to stay at South Dakota, this one got weird.
Athletic director Joel Nielsen focused the search on successful FCS, Division II & III head coaches, speaking with dozens and meeting with quite a few. One source told FootballScoop, “Whether technically offered or not, at least 15 coaches have turned this one down.”
Throughout this search, sources told FootballScoop that Ed Warinner has remained the one Power 5 assistant that has shown true interest. We’re told the veteran Power 5 assistant and current Minnesota run game coordinator has the support of Nick Saban, Urban Meyer and P.J. Fleck for the job. And yet, somehow, Warinner has not been offered the job.
There has been some chatter about Mount Union head coach Vince Kehres being a candidate once his season is complete. The Purple Raiders will play for their 13th national championship against Mary Hardin-Baylor on Friday night. At this time we’re told there has not been contact (which is surprising given the number of coaches who have been contacted) but we also hear that Kehres would listen if contacted after the season.
Now, here is a curveball that we weren’t expecting when checking up on this search today. Within the last week, Nielsen interviewed Garrett Riley, the younger brother of Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley. Riley graduated from college in 2012 and recently completed his first season as an on-the-field FBS coach, working as Kansas’s quarterbacks coach. Although we understand Nielsen is interviewing another lower level head coach today, sources tell us Riley remains a candidate for the job.
With National Signing Day just a week away, it would be extremely beneficial to the Flashes to have their coach on board as soon as possible. We’ll keep you updated as the search develops.
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.