Will UNLV or San Jose State hire a Pac-10 assistant?

November, 18, 2009
11/18/09
7:59
PM ET
Most assistant coaches want to be head coaches, but it's hard to make that jump because there are only 120 FBS jobs and only 66 of them are in BCS conferences (and Notre Dame).

And only half of those BCS posts are any good.

So when head coaching jobs open up, even for perennial losers, most assistant coaches will raise an interested eyebrow.

That's why the openings at UNLV and San Jose State may cost a Pac-10 team an assistant.

UNLV fired Mike Sanford this week, and California offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig and Washington defensive coordinator Nick Holt are potential candidates, according to this article.

Serious candidates? Probably not. But still.

Here's a guess that San Jose State, which just accepted the resignation of Dick Tomey, also might vet a few Pac-10 assistants.

The problem for Ludwig or Holt -- or Arizona's Sonny Dykes or Oregon State's Mark Banker -- is knowing when to pull the trigger.

If you wait too long, you might never get a shot -- "old" assistants struggle to get respect from programs looking for "hot, young, up-and-comers." But if you jump at a bad job, it may ruin your reputation when you inevitably fail.

Bob Stoops was so highly thought of as a defensive coordinator at Florida that he was able too wait around for programs like Iowa and Oklahoma to fight over him.

Urban Meyer did the steady climb -- Notre Dame assistant, Bowling Green head coach, Utah head coach, multiple national title winner at Florida.

Former UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker was so convinced that he had bucked the "great coordinator but not head coach material" label that he took the top spot at New Mexico State, which is like betting you can survive a tumble into a black hole.

Of course, I thought the same when former Washington State defensive coordinator Robb Akey was hired at Idaho, but Akey's Vandals are 7-4 and likely headed to a bowl game.

That surprising success might get some bigger-name programs to take a look at Akey.

So succeeding in a supposed black hole could lead to a big opportunity later.

Or it can lead to your disappearance from head coaching candidate lists for the rest of your career.

Stay tuned, because there are sure to be other openings -- and other rumors. And possibly a hiring.

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