Pretty much everybody paying attention to the Utah State football coaching vacancy knows about the supposed leading candidates to replace outgoing Brent Guy.
There’s John L. Smith, who told the Deseret News over the air during his Louisville radio show he is interested, who has been associated with the job on Internet rumors since the last season ended.
There’s Kent Baer, a Cache Valley native and USU graduate who has had 30-plus years of coaching experience at some of the biggest and most impressive football schools in the country.
There is also Utah defensive coordinator Gary Anderson. The Utes have had a little something going on this week, so Anderson has deflected all questions about his interest in the job until that little something wraps up. But many associated with the Utes say Anderson is more than just a little intrigued by the opening.
And there’s Michael ‘Chico’ Caneles. He is a former USU quarterback who was a finalist for the position the last time it opened up. He’s had several stops as an assistant coach and is now helping the South Florida football team rise to prominance.
But there are also a few other names popping up that will surprise people.
UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker is very interested in the job. A source close to the Aggies told me the ex-USU and BYU assistant coach would enjoy a return to Logan — even if it was a short-term, stepping-stone job — and has already had a hand in steering a few recruits to Logan when the Bruins didn’t have room for them.
And, finally — for this blog at least — there is Steve Sarkisian.
That’s right — USC assistant head coach, former BYU quarterback and one-time Oakland Raiders coaching candidate Steve Sarkisian.
My source at USU told me there hasn’t been anything formal and that though Sarkisian is certainly a possibility at bigger programs such as Washington, San Diego State and even Tennessee, his ‘people’ have contacted USU’s ‘people’ to get a little info about the opening.
So, little Utah State — the supposed wasteland of college football with a program so bad no one of repute could possibly be interested in it — will have no shortage of quality applicants for the football coaching job.
The difference this time, as opposed to four years ago, can be summed up with two items.
1: USU now has four seasons in the WAC to legitimize the program in the eyes of coaches and recruits.
2: The new football locker room and training complex is as fine as any in the country. It’s state of the art, is wired to the gills and has coaches around the country envious.
What remains to be seen, however, is if USU administration will find the guy — the right guy instead of the wrong Guy — to take USU to the next level.
That level being a bowl game.