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Where To Next

by Dan Gunderson

I have been hearing a lot of chatter about the future of North Dakota State University’s head football Craig Bohl. More chatter now than perhaps earlier in this unbelievable two plus season stretch.

The conversations have been related to where Bohl will be coaching next year. Now, his contract isn’t up but in the world of college football, that really doesn’t matter when a good job opens up. Or you screw up at said good job .

I think we might all agree that SOMEBODY will give NDSU Athletic Director Gene Taylor a call by the end of this season, regardless if the Bison win a third straight Football Championship Series national title. So, the question becomes, who will call?

I have come up with five schools that might make the call. I’ve listed them from least likely to most likely. I have also come up with why said school would make sense and why it wouldn’t.

Kansas State University Wildcats
Why It Makes Sense:
KSU is struggling out of the gates in their first season post-Collin Klein. Bill Snyder is 74 years old. A bad season that includes a loss to the Bison could be enough to prompt Wildcat fans and the powers that be to make a change at the helm. Don’t you think they would remember being out played by the Fighting Bohls of NDSU?

It is also a great situation for Bohl to step into. They expect to win and would give Bohl every chance to make his tenure in Manhattan a successful one. Bohl knows the area when it comes to recruiting and his style of coaching is similar to Snyder’s. I think K-State would get behind this guy.

Why It Makes No Sense:
There is a reason this is the first one I mentioned. It would take a disastrous season, and I do mean disastrous, to make those at Kansas State even consider removing Mr. Snyder. The guy is K-State football. Snyder leaves when Snyder wants to leave and you will be happy with it.

The only reason I see something like this happening is because of what happened at the University of Tennessee back in 2008. That season, Fulmer and the Volunteers went 5-7 and Fulmer was asked to step down. Fulmer won 152 games as the Volunteer head coach. So far, Snyder has 172 as the head coach at KSU. Hey. Crazier things have happened.

Iowa State University Cyclones
Why It Makes Sense:
Ames, Iowa is in an area that Bohl knows well and could recruit. The Cyclones play in a Big 12 that is wide open. The state is desperate for a relevant college football team. Give Bohl four or five years and he would start producing a team averaging seven to nine wins a season.

ISU head coach Paul Rhoads has not delivered on what seemed like so much promise at the beginning of the 2009 season. Yet to have a winning record since going 7-6 in ’09, Rhoads is feeling the heat after losing to the University of Northern Iowa this year. It might be time for a change in Ames.

Why It Makes No Sense:
It is Iowa State University. This is a project that could take a couple years to turn around. Would be a great situation for a coach in his early 40’s to sink his teeth into. Rhoads is 46, nearly a full decade younger than Bohl.

I don’t think Bohl wants to step into a situation that may take several years to turn around. He has been coaching for nearly 30 years himself. He is not young by head coaching standards and he has earned the right at this point in his coaching career to be somewhat picky.

University of Nebraska Cornhuskers
Why It Makes Sense:
Bohl is from Lincoln, Nebraska. He use to play for the Huskers and also was their defensive coordinator. Bohl is a student of Tom Osborne and how coached at Nebraska. If there is one thing people in that state love more than corn, it is Tom Osborne.

Bo Pelini is having a rough go of things for the university, between getting throttled by UCLA to cussing out fans. The Huskers have made a couple Big 10 championship games since moving to the conference but you don’t survive at Nebraska by just showing up. You last by winning conference titles and national championships. Pelini hasn’t and fans are growing anxious.

Why It Makes No Sense:
It is not exactly like Bohl and Nebraska ended on great terms. The University of Nebraska doesn’t hire FCS coaches either. They hire big time coaches. Despite his Lincoln ties, fans are not going to get excited over a guy who was successful in a lower division.

Your leash at Nebraska is much shorter, especially if you are Bohl. You don’t deliver in three years and the backlash to the hire will be very heavy. This job would indicate how much longer Bohl wants to be a coach. Be successful and you have found a job to run out your career with. Lose and that might be it for you as a head coach. This is too big of a risk for both parties.

University of Minnesota Golden Gophers
Why It Makes Sense:
The Golden Gophers and their fans know who Craig Bohl is and what he has done to the team in years past. He has out recruited them, out coached them and seen his teams out play them. The Gophers are desperate to have some kind of success in a relevant sport in the Big 10.

The health of Jerry Kill is starting to compromise his job. If he continues to miss games, you cannot justify him being the coach of the Gophers. There are also countless NDSU alumni down in the Twin Cities that would become de facto Gopher fans because of Bohl being the head coach. Seems like an easy decision for the Gophers.

Why It Makes No Sense:
The Golden Gophers fancy themselves as a real Big 10 school. This means that they believe they are the type of school that can attract the Urban Myers of the worlds. Craig Bohl, to them, is some lowly coach for a lowly school that plays in some rural town in a state they don’t care about.

If the Gophers are forced to make a change, they are not going to go four hours to the Northwest and ask Bohl. They will put on some national coaching search and end up going with their eighth choice for head coach, again proving the fact that they are a college team in a pro sports town. Until they realize this, they will not go after Bohl.

North Dakota State University Bison
Why It Makes Sense:
Didn’t see that one coming did you? When you start to think about it, how many situations could you find in college football that are better than what Bohl has going for him in Fargo? Nick Saban in Alabama might be the only one. Even Mack Brown, a guy who has won 153 games at Texas, is feeling the pressure of being forced out.

That type of pressure doesn’t exist at NDSU. So, why leave the type of comfort and control head coaches dream about for a rebuilding project? Who says that has to be the next step? Can’t he just be happy becoming possibly one of the greatest coaches in FCS history? I think Bison fans would just be fine with that.

Why It Makes No Sense:
He has never gotten a chance to be a head coach at the FBS level. If things hadn’t gone so wrong at Nebraska, I’m sure he would have been in consideration to take over that job. If Joe Maturi hadn’t been so Joe Maturi and hired Bohl instead of something called Tim Brewster, maybe the Gophers would actually be relevant.

He has nothing left to accomplish at this level. The next stop is FBS football. And, let us all remember, Bohl is 55. This might be his last shot at taking over an FBS program. The time is now for him.

You can follow Daniel "Pinto" Gunderson on Twitter at @pintoKFGO or friend him on Facebook. You can hear him on his weekly podcast show on kfgo.com, 740thefan.com or on iTunes called “The Pinto and White Shadow Show.” Pinto is a radio producer within the Midwest Communications-Fargo company.