New coach in place soon

It’s been less than two weeks since Brent Guy was fired by Utah State.

His replacement might be in place and digging in with a plan to turn the win-starved program around in less than a week. But as the whirl-wind search has centered in on a handful of candidates — each with a unique connection to USU or the state — we’re seeing an interesting flurry of action and reaction from Aggie fans and those following the program.

It seems few have an absence of an opinion and most are more than happy to share it.

I’ve received plenty of emails and a few phone calls from Aggie fans about the candidates as they’ve surfaced. Many appear to have a favorite picked out and have their very distinct reasons for wanting that guy as the next head coach at Utah State.

John L. Smith made a lot of friends in Logan during his first stint with the Ags. He also made his share of bad impressions with his gruff manner and less-than-smooth exit from Logan after accepting the job at Louisville.

Still, he remains the last USU coach to have a winning season and had ton of success at Louisville and modest success in the highly-competitive Big Ten with Michigan State.

He is the only candidate of note with any real head coaching experience.

Defensive gurus DeWayne Walker, Kent Baer and Paul Rhodes are also near the top of the list of potential hires. But the last two times USU went with a defensive guy as its football coach — Guy and Mick Dennehey — things didn’t turn out so well.

Aside from Smith, the other offensive mind chasing the job is Michael ‘Chico’ Canales. He’s been an offensive coordinator in the Pac-10 and will still have plenty of recruiting contacts in talent-rich California, Arizona and even in Utah where he has coached at Snow, BYU and played for the Aggies.

The candidates each bring a unique twist to the position. What is unknown, though, is how those coaches — especially those who have never been a head coach — are at leading, motivating and inspiring college athletes.

And that is the biggest challenge athletic director Scott Barnes will face.

There are plenty of qualified candidates when all you have to look at is a resume and a coaching timeline.

Finding a leader is what Barnes must do.

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