Hello. My alma mater, Kennesaw State University, needs to hire its first head football coach. It'll hire one within a month. So I've written some things about this in my free time. I have nowhere else to write about this, as SB Nation does not yet have an Owls blog.
Let us disregard the obvious names, which include former Tennessee defensive coordinator Derek Dooley (his pops, Vince Dooley, is the godfather of Owls football, but he's already got a bigger job as Cowboys receivers coach making about what he'd make at KSU anyway) and Brian VanGorder, who's almost literally worked for every team within the state, so long as we count Auburn as part of Georgia (it is). If you're just now joining us, you can imagine the other names that have also been hurled around. JIM TRESSEL!
Working from a list of actually attainable* coaches, here are the first five I'd pursue if given charge of the search at the moment. I have no interest in bringing on splash names to build buzz and would instead look for coaches with loads of in-state experience.
5. Tommy Spangler, Presbyterian defensive coordinator
Spangler's general resume looks great -- a decade in-state (at alma mater UGA and Georgia Southern), head coaching experience (one of the best bosses in mighty Presbyterian Blue Hose history), significant FBS experience (defensive coordinator at [/mumbles and coughs] Louisiana Tech) -- and I'd be okay with his hire, but mainly I'd just have a great time trying to explain away the 2012 LA Tech defense.
The job he did in Ruston was great until last year! No, wait, come back! That "2012 LA Tech defense" thing exemplifies why I'll never be an athletic director.
4. Mac McWhorter, Penn State offensive line coach
Absolutely nobody would be fired up, but there's more to life than being fired up.
Native Atlantan, multiple stints at both Georgia and Georgia Tech, playing experience at Tech, Atlanta high school coaching experience, a year as head coach at West Georgia, gigs elsewhere in the Southeast, and a bowl game fill-in job for George O'Leary noteworthy for his taking the reins off his coordinators and getting a win. I think he'd be fine, but everybody tells me this is the most boring thing that could possibly happen.
SO LET'S GO AIR RAID
3. Chris Hatcher, Murray State head coach
Hatcher is a former Division II national champion who was born in Georgia and whose coaching experience hasn't taken him beyond Kentucky or Florida. Football Scoop's Scott Roussel says Hatcher is highly thought of by his big-name Air Raid contemporaries and has excellent rapport with his players.
I'd be worried, though, about the fact that he's yet to replicate his Valdosta State success elsewhere, being fired by Georgia Southern and posting an identical record so far at Murray State. He'd be a good choice, but that lingering note of previous in-state FCS shortcoming would nag until shaken.
2. Ralph Friedgen, free-ass man
There are about two realistically attainable names I'd be unequivocally excited about.
Here we have a former FBS coach of the year whose two stints as Georgia Tech offensive coordinator coincided with a national championship and Joe Hamilton's Heisman run. Since being fired by the Terps, he's claimed to have burned his Maryland diploma and he's been connected to both the Georgia and Georgia Tech offensive line jobs at one point or another.
Atlanta has claimed this man, and while I'd take his recruiting-related hires very seriously given the way his Terps lagged in talent acquisition, he's a proven coach who's beloved by his players and very well might still have a chip on his considerable shoulder.
1. David Dean, Valdosta State head coach
A very serious candidate, I've been told, as have Roussel and the Owl Howl, though the Valdosta Daily Times isn't hearing the same thing. I'll be a liiittle disappointed if we hire anybody else, short of pulling off some kind of major surprise.
A two-time Division II national champion who's upheld the Blazers' winning tradition, Dean's coaching travels are as follows: two years in Atlanta, eight years an hour west of Atlanta, and 17 years in Valdosta. Nothing outside of state. Perfect.
Pick a metro Atlanta county, and he's got at least a handful of former players on high school staffs throughout. Dean put himself in charge of recruiting Gwinnett County on short notice after a coach left following VSU's 2012 title and walked away with three signees.
And the Valdosta thing. Will Muschamp, Mike Leach, Kirby Smart, Dana Holgorsen and many others have passed through Title Town on the way to more exposed things, so we're talking about a proven development ground. Hatcher's actually one of the few who didn't quite match his heights once he left Valdosta -- he posted a 76-12 record with Dean as his offensive coordinator and a 36-30 otherwise.
Dean runs a versatile spread attack incorporating lots of play action, along with screens and a quarterback run threat. It has alternately ranked very well in either rushing or passing, but not really both at once. It wouldn't be hard to recruit for in metro Atlanta, is the main thing.
* I'll note that this does appear to be a higher-interest FCS job, based on the names actually being mentioned as serious candidates, which include former BCS head coaches and current FBS assistants. Here we have north metro Atlanta's elite recruiting grounds with no nearby competition (with Georgia State taking on the Sun Belt, the nearest current FCS school looks to be Jacksonville State, almost two hours away), a booming campus and student body, and a new stadium good enough for NCAA soccer championships. There's a shedload of work to be done, as the fanbase is little more than a blank state at this point, but the opportunity is clear.