Akron is the only FBS program without a head coach at the moment, and the Zips' search for Terry Bowden's replacement continues to develop.
Akron is an interesting job in that the plusses and minuses are evident. The program doesn't have the winning tradition of neighbors like Toledo and Bowling Green -- the Zips have enjoyed just one winning season since 2006 -- but it does reside in a football-mad state just south of the Cleveland metro area, and it does enjoy the distinction of being the last available chair before the music stops on the 2018-19 head coaching carousel.
Sources indicated Chattanooga head coach Tom Arth is a candidate for the job, and media reports have placed him as the leading candidate.
A Cleveland area native, Arth played at John Carroll College in Cleveland before crafting a career as a quarterback in the NFL, NFL Europe, Canada and the arena league. He returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach in 2010, then ascended to head coach in 2013, where he led the Blue Streaks to a 40-8 mark in four seasons. His 2016 team reached the Division III semifinals, snapped Mount Union's streak of 24 consecutive Ohio Athletic Conference championships and also knocked off perennial Division III power Wisconsin-Whitewater.
That success led him to Chattanooga, where went 3-8 in 2017 and then jumped to 6-5 this fall. Arth's Chattanooga buyout sits at $370,000 presently, but is set to drop after the new year.
Another candidate that has drawn interest from Akron is Indianapolis Colts tight ends coach Tom Manning. Like Toledo head coach Jason Candle and Manning's former boss Matt Campbell, Manning is a Mount Union graduate. An Ohio native and a former Ohio high school assistant coach, Manning served as his alma mater's assistant line coach in 2011, deposited multiple stints at Toledo as a graduate assistant, director of football operations and offensive line coach before following Campbell to Iowa State, where he coached the offensive line and coordinated the offense in 2016-17 before joining Frank Reich's staff in Indianapolis.
Speaking of Mount Union, a source said the school has reached out to Purple Raiders head coach Vince Kehres. The son of program patriarch Larry Kehres, the younger Kehres won two Division III national titles as a player and has won 10 (and counting) as a coach, the last two as head coach. After taking over for his father in 2013, Kehres is 84-4 with five OAC championships, six Division III semifinals trips, five Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl appearances and two national championships.
Mount Union will play for another national championship -- its third under Kehres and 14th overall, all since 1993 -- tonight against Mary Hardin-Baylor (7 p.m. ET, ESPNU).
Another coach that has drawn interest from Akron, according to sources, is Texas associate head coach/run game coordinator/running backs coach Stan Drayton. Drayton is a Cleveland native who spent 2011-14 as an assistant at Ohio State. Money could be a factor here; Drayton makes $525,000, while Akron paid Bowden only $412,500. However, Drayton's ultimate goal is to become a head coach, and sometimes in life the heart wants what the heart wants.
In that same vein, another name that makes sense is Ohio State running backs coach Tony Alford. An Akron native, Alford has coached running backs at Mount Union, Kent State, Notre Dame and, since Drayton's departure, at Ohio State for the past four years.
Bruce Feldman reported earlier this week that Penn State assistant head coach/run game coordinator Charles Huff interviewed for the job. Huff isn't leaving Mississippi State for the Akron job.
Another candidate that sources say Akron has inquired about is Los Angeles Chargers wide receivers coach Phil McGeoghan. McGeoghan was a FootballScoop Wide Receivers Coach of the Year finalist in his one season at East Carolina in 2016. However, it's hard to see a deal coming together here -- McGeoghan has no connection to the program or the state of Ohio, he's worked in college football for just one of the past seven seasons, and the Chargers' impending playoff run makes the timing difficult, if not impossible.
Presumably more will be clear very soon. As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.