With 11 FBS programs in the market for new football coaches (thanks Mizzou & Louisiana- Monroe), and a few more soon to join, the list of potential candidates can get a little thin. Yes, everyone would love to lock up Tom Herman and might even be ok settling for Kirby Smart, but are there even enough of those guys to go around?
For some teams ,looking to hit a home run hire means looking at non-traditional candidates. Maybe even guys from FCS-level or below.
The risk/reward of these candidates is great. Jim Tressel will always hold a special place in the hearts of Ohio State fans, but Gerry Faust doesn't exactly generate pleasant memories for fans of Notre Dame.
Recently we've seen Buffalo, Virginia, Eastern Michigan, Wyoming and Georgia Southern dip into the FCS ranks to tab head coaches with mixed results. But it also wasn't too long ago that coaches like Brian Kelly and Paul Johnson commanded sidelines at the lower levels of college football.
Who might be ready to take the leap soon?
John Grass, Jacksonville State
You may best remember Grass and his Jacksonville State team for almost pulling off an upset of Auburn back in week two. Despite coming up just short against the SEC-Goliath, Jacksonville State has kept the momentum building, currently sitting at 8-1 on the year and ranked 1st in all of FCS.
Grass is only in his second year with the Gamecocks, but in his first and only other year as head coach, he successfully guided the team to a 10-2 record and the second round of the FCS playoffs.
Prior to his time at JSU, Grass led a number of high school programs throughout Alabama and had a stint as offensive coordinator at Hoover High School (shout out to MTV's Two-a-day's). He's developed the reputation of a keen offensive guru and at only 47 years old, it seems likely bigger programs may come calling soon.
Brock Spack, Illinois State
Spack, a Purdue alum, has been head coach of Illinois State since 2009 -- posting a 54-28 record including a trip to the FCS title game in 2014.
He was long figured to be Joe Tiller's replacement with the Boilermakers, but was passed over in favor of Danny Hope in 2009 due to Hope's edge in head coaching experience.
Spack is a traditional B1G defensive coach, and while he may not be considered innovative or hip, his approach is one of substance over style.
Can the 53 year old wait out Darrel Hazel at Purdue for another year? Keep in mind Purdue whiffed on another alum in Kevin Sumlin during their last coaching search. Maybe it's time to go back to the Tiller-coaching tree.
Joe Moglia, Coastal Carolina
The biggest strike here is that Moglia is 66 years old, however, he might be the most interesting man in all of college football.
Moglia gave up a promising, yet not so lucrative, coaching career in 1983 to concentrate on business. He spent 17 years at Merrill Lynch before taking over TDAmeritrade in 2001 -- growing the company into a financial behemoth.
But football has always been Moglia's passion, so in 2009 he gave up the business world for good and accepted a volunteer position at Nebraska under Bo Pelini. From there, he had a 1-year stint coaching the Omaha NightHawks of the UFL, including one Maurice Clarett, before getting the chance to run his own program at Coastal Carolina.
Moglia has been far from a novelty, taking the Chanticleer's to the playoffs in each of his 3 seasons at the helm. His team currently sits at 8-1 on the year and may be his best chance at a deep playoff run.
It might be a little late for Moglia to get his shot at FBS, but for a school looking to make a media splash and willing to take a gamble -- he offers an interesting experiment.
Bo Pelini, Youngstown State
Pelini is a bit of a wildcard here as he has years of FBS-level experience. And while the Youngstown native and former Ohio State captain isn't always great with the media and can be borderline unprofessional, he still won a ton of games at Nebraska.
Going 66-27 in 7 years with the Huskers should count for something, but it's very possible Pelini is finally comfortable with where's he at. For a guy who grew up in the Mahoning Valley, the opportunity to bring a championship back to his home town might be something he can't pass up.
Currently, his YSU Penguin team sits at 5-5 on the year.
Everett Withers, James Madison
The former Ohio State assistant has landed on his feet after taking the head job at James Madison.
Although Withers' first opportunity to run a program (with interim tag) at North Carolina didn't pan out, he's showed he can successfully head a team while directing James Madison to the playoffs in 2014 and a 7-2 record thus far this year.
Withers has a reputation as a fierce recruiter and given the number of openings in the talent-rich DMV region this year, it's almost certain he'll get looks at FBS openings soon. With several years experience at both the FBS and NFL level and a knack for PR, Withers may be the surest bet of any of the FCS candidates.
Beau Baldwin, Eastern Washington
The 43 year old Baldwin has spent his entire playing and coaching career split between Central and Eastern Washington -- not exactly the mecca of college football.
But it's his success at EWU that makes Baldwin impossible to ignore. In 7 years at Eastern Washington, Baldwin has gone 67-25, with 5 playoff appearance -- claiming the 2010 National Championship in the process.
During his time with the Eagles, Baldwin has also helped tutor Payton Award winning quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell and current Oregon starter Vernon Adams.
While he continues to build his program and profile, a Mountain West school may be the ideal landing spot should Baldwin look to move up a level in competition.
Tony Annese, Ferris State
The current coach of DII Ferris State, Annese made his name as a wildly successful high school coach in Michigan.
In 2009, he took over the program at Grand Rapid Community College - only to it fold in 2011. But in 3 years at GRCC, Annese posted a 30-4 record and was named NJCAA Regional Coach of the Year each season.
Annese took over a middling Ferris State program in 2012 and made it perhaps his best reclamation project. The Bulldogs recently posted this second straight undefeated regular season and earned the number 1 seed in Region Four of the Division II playoffs.
Known for his offensive system and no-nonsense style, Annese's name was rumored with the Central Michigan opening last year that ultimately went to Joe Bonamego. Still, he may be an ideal option at a place like Western Michigan should P.J. Fleck move on.
And while he's never followed the traditional path professionally, the opportunity to head a FBS program might be one Annese can't pass up.