Fresno State coaching candidates and potential replacements for Tim DeRuyter, who was fired by the Bulldogs on Sunday.
The days of Derek Carr and Davante Adams seem long gone now that Fresno State has started 1-7 and subsequently fired head coach Tim DeRuyter.
The Bulldogs have sputtered through the first half of this season, and sport the No. 111 ranking in total offense (350.4 yards/game) and a No. 121 ranking in scoring offense (20.5 points/game). Fresno State’s only win this season came in Week 2 against Sacramento State, 31-3.
The Bulldogs are only three years removed from a Mountain West title and were ranked as high as No. 15 in the AP Top 25 during that 2013 season, which was the first time they had been ranked since the 2008 season.
Athletic director Jim Bartko will need to analyze the rest of this season carefully to make sure he picks the best man for the job, but here are few candidates the program could be looking at while making a decision.
Doug Nussmeier – Florida Gators Offensive Coordinator
The move makes sense for Doug Nussmeier. He’s been working as an offensive coordinator since 2008 when he was with — guess who — Fresno State. He’s racked up plenty of Power Five experience with Washington, Alabama, Michigan and currently Florida.
He turned down the Southern Miss job this past offseason, but if he gets offered the Fresno State job, it’s difficult to see him turning that down as well. He knows the program and can shift the focus back toward quarterback play, which the Bulldogs desperately need. Is he the best man for the job? No. The Florida offense isn’t exactly shining right now, but the Gators have made strides with Nussmeier. Although, that says more about where Florida was before he got there than it does about him as an offensive coordinator. Still, he has the championship experience from his time with the Crimson Tide to sell recruits on.
Jeff Tedford – Washington Huskies Offensive Consultant
He hasn’t been a college head coach since 2012, but Jeff Tedford put in work when he held the job at Cal from 2002 to 2012. Tedford finished his time with the Golden Bears with an 82-57 record, including a 5-3 bowl record. He led Cal to the Pac-10 title in 2006, and he was named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year twice in 2002 and 2004.
There’s a connection between Fresno State and Tedford, though. He played quarterback for the Bulldogs for two seasons in 1981 and 1982. He’d surely love to return to his alma mater and right the ship. Tedford has been on the Fresno State staff before. He coached the quarterbacks in 1992 under former head coach Jim Sweeney. He also served as the Bulldogs’ offensive coordinator from 1993 to 1997.
He’s also working as an offensive consultant for Chris Petersen’s Huskies right now, and sophomore Jake Browning has been, arguably, the best quarterback in the country, having made huge strides from his freshman campaign in 2015.
Jake Spavital – Cal Offensive Coordinator
This is the guy Fresno State needs to target. He has Cal ranked as the No. 6 offense in the nation right now with 545.3 yards per game, and he’s helped boost Davis Webb’s game tremendously. Jake Spavital could walk into the job with the Bulldogs and immediately raise them up offensively.
He’s worked with Johnny Manziel, Kenny Hill, Geno Smith and Brandon Weeden. And NFL resumes aside, Manziel, Smith and Weeden all put up huge numbers in the college game. Spavital was also the most important cog in getting 5-star quarterback Tate Martell to commit to Texas A&M. Spav left, and Martell eventually decommitted. We know Spavital would not only air the ball out with the Bulldogs, but he’d recruit like a madman, too.
Noel Mazzone – Texas A&M Offensive Coordinator
Regardless of the fact Martell decommitted when Noel Mazzone took the job at Texas A&M, the current offensive coordinator for the Aggies has done a fine job. He has Texas A&M ranked No. 17 in total offense with 496.4 yards per game and No. 27 in scoring offense with 36.4 points per game.
He oversaw Josh Rosen’s highly successful freshman season last year, and worked wonders with Brett Hundley before that. Mazzone also helped mold Brock Osweiler, who’s now starting for the Houston Texans, and worked with Philip Rivers at NC State, Derek Anderson at Oregon State, and both Chad Pennington and Brett Favre with the New York Jets. Plus, Mazzone was the offensive coordinator at Auburn when the Tigers’ backfield featured both Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams. That’s a long resume and a lot of NFL talent to hang his hat on.
Major Applewhite – Houston Offensive Coordinator
After one season under Nick Saban at Alabama and six years at Texas under Mack Brown, Major Applewhite has spent the last two seasons under the hottest head coaching name in all of college football: Tom Herman. Herman is the one who gets all the credit, and it’ll be Herman who gets a big-time Power Five job, but Applewhite can brag about the work he’s done with Greg Ward Jr. He also worked as a graduate assistant with the Longhorns when Vince Young and Cedric Benson were at Texas.
Houston is ranked No. 20 in scoring offense (39.4 points/game) and No. 32 in total offense (479. yards/game). So, he’s done a solid job with the Cougars, but anyone who’s watched Ward run that offense could have figured that out. Applewhite has the experience and will have to take the leap at a head coaching gig at some point. With Herman likely on the way out, it makes sense for him to take a flier out on Fresno State and vice versa.