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Top College Football Coaching Candidates

Odds are if Washington loses to BYU this weekend enough dominoes are going to fall in place that it is going to be extremely doubtful that Ty Willingham returns for a fifth year.

With fan favorite Jim Mora Jr out of the picture who will Washington turn too?

Mike Riley - Oregon State

No one in the Pac-10 gets more overlooked than Riley, who has quietly been outstanding in his second tour of Corvallis. He doesn’t get elite recruits to Oregon State, yet his teams are always well-prepared, winning 39 games and four bowl games over the last five seasons.

He was Washington's first choice when Hedges fired Jim Lambright and will be the first choice this time if interested. The immediate benefit of hiring an in conference head coach is that you get a jump on recruiting.

Chris Petersen - Boise State

One of the bright young offensive minds in the game, he’s already 23-3 with the Broncos, including the one-for-the-ages upset of Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. The former Duck assistant has been mentioned as a possible succesor to Mike Bellotti.

Would he be interested in Washington or is he content to raise his family in Boise for  few more years?

Lane Kiffen - Oakland Raiders

Lane Kiffin is in his second year as head coach of The Oakland Raiders. Before that Kiffin presided over the vaunted offensive attack at the University of Southern California under Pete Carroll for six years. At 33 he is the youngest head coach in the history of the NFL.

Anyone who works for Al Davis is always available.

Chip Kelly - Oregon OC

44 year old Chip Kelly engineered prolific offensive attacks at the University of New Hampshire for eight seasons before becoming the OC at Oregon. He was named the College Assistant Coach of the Year by the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston following the 2005 season in addition to selected as "one of college football’s hottest coaches" by American Football Monthly.

He would be my number two if Riley isn't interested.

Pat Hill - Fresno State

His teams are always tough, physical, and built on a solid running game. The Bulldogs have been to eight bowl games in nine years, but a WAC title has escaped them since Boise State joined the league.

Hill would jump at the Washington job. A change of scenery would do him good.

Randy Edsall - UConn

Edsall has been a borderline miracle worker at U-Conn transforming this basketball school into a legitimate threat in the Big East. His teams may not be that sexy, but they’re always well coached, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

Emmert is very well aquainted with Edsall from his time as chancellor at UConn.

Brian Kelly - Cincinnati

Kelly simply wins wherever he goes. At Grand Valley State, he was the undisputed star of the Division II coaching ranks. It took three short years before he turned Central Michigan into a MAC champion. And in just over a year at Cincinnati, he’s already 11-3 with two bowl wins.

I can see him stepping into the Big Ten after this season.

Bronco Mendenhall - BYU

In successive seasons, the Cougars have swept the Mountain West and finished ranked in the polls. If Mendenhall keeps this up, his name will replace Lavell Edwards’ outside the stadium.

There is a good chance that Bronco will be at BYU a very long time if he doesn't jump after this season.

Todd Graham - Tulsa

It’s been two years on the sidelines and two very successful seasons for Graham in Conference USA. In 2006, he led Rice to its first bowl game in 46 years. He guided Tulsa to 11 wins in 2007.

Gary Patterson - TCU

One of the biggest surprises about Patterson is that the Horned Frogs have been able to retain him for so long. He’s 62-25 over the last eight years, winning three league titles, playing in seven bowl games, and finishing ranked five times. He’s just 48 and poised for a big promotion.

Steve Sarkisian - USC OC

Steve Sarkisian is in his fourth stop at USC as an assistant coach or athlete. He returned to the Trojan staff in February of 2005 as the assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach. He added the offensive coordinator role in 2007.

If you are going the USC route I would much rather take Lane Kiffin.