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Spitballing potential Texas A&M head coaching candidates

Time for some wild speculation

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Duke Jaylynn Nash-USA TODAY Sports

The college football world was greeted with the news that Texas A&M is reportedly parting ways with Head Football Coach Jimbo Fisher. At some point we’ll do a post-mortem on the Fisher era in Aggieland, but the most immediate question on the minds of Aggies is, who will be the next head coach?

To be clear, I have absolutely zero inside knowledge on this, so don’t think any of this is based on #sources. But it’s realistic to think that A&M will be an attractive destination for available head coaches this offseason, so let’s speculate wildly and put together a short list of potential head coaching candidates.

Dan Lanning (Oregon)

NCAA Football: Oregon at Utah Christopher Creveling-USA TODAY Sports

Lanning is the dream candidate. He has SEC experience after serving as the Defensive Coordinator at Georgia for three seasons, and Power 5 head coaching experience for the past two seasons at Oregon. In fact he has the Ducks in the thick of the College Football Playoff race in year two. The question with Lanning is whether or not he is gettable. He just agreed to a six-year, $45 million contract in July, and with the Ducks heading to the Big Ten, it’s very arguable whether A&M is a more attractive coaching destination. The Aggies would need to pay $20 million in buyout money to Oregon if Lanning did decide to make the jump. I don’t know the details of A&M’s financial situation, but after already paying Fisher’s buyout, this much money for a replacement head coach may be a bridge too far.

Dan Campbell (Detroit Lions)

Las Vegas Raiders v Detroit Lions Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

This is almost certainly a pipe dream, as you don’t see successful NFL head coaches leave to take college ones. But if there was one college job that could lure Campbell, it would be returning to his alma mater. Campbell’s hard-nosed, blue collar demeanor would be a perfect fit in Aggieland, and would also open up the Aggie homer dream scenario of him also bringing in former A&M QB Jerrod Johnson (currently the QB Coach for the Texans) as offensive coordinator.

However unlikely, this is a hire that would likely excite Aggie fans like no other.

Mike Elko (Duke)

NCAA Football: North Carolina State at Duke Jaylynn Nash-USA TODAY Sports

Elko may be the favorite among Aggie fans, having served as the Defensive Coordinator at A&M during Jimbo Fisher’s first four seasons. He took a Duke squad who went 3-9 in 2021 and led them to a 9-3 record in 2022. The Blue Devils are 6-4 this season, though threee of those losses have come since losing their starting QB for the season, and all have been against ranked opponents.

Just like Lanning, Elko just signed a contract extension this summer. While the financial details are not available (Duke is a private school so they don’t have to divulge it), his number is likely lower than Lanning’s, and you’d assume Elko has a built-in affection for the job given his four seasons in College Station.

Jeff Traylor (UTSA)

NCAA Football: Texas-San Antonio at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

If A&M wants to go more of the “up and comer” route, Traylor seems like the obvious choice. After leading the Roadrunners to back-to-back 11-win seasons and Conference USA titles in 2021 and 2022, Traylor has the team tied for the conference lead in their first year in the American Athletic Conference. After starting the season 1-3, they’ve rattled off six straight wins.

Just as important as Traylor’s W-L record are his Texas ties. He is a SFA grad who made a name for himself in the high school ranks at Gilmer before assistant coaching stints at Texas, SMU and Arkansas. Traylor would bring the Texas recruiting ties that could prove pivotal in this job, and A&M represents the big coaching step up Traylor has likely been looking for.

Glenn Schumann (Georgia DC)

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Texas Christian at Georgia Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Schumann has about as much SEC pedigree as you can get, graduating and serving as a GA at Alabama before becoming a ILB Coach and then Defensive Coordinator at Georgia. While he doesn’t have head coaching experience, there’s a long list of coaches who have successfully made the jump from elite coordinator to elite head coach. If offered the job, you have to think he’d jump at the chance.

Lance Leipold (Kansas)/Chris Klieman (Kansas State)/Matt Campbell (ISU)

NCAA Football: Kansas State at Kansas Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe it’s lazy to lump these two guys together, but a lot of the talking points are the same. Coaches who have overachieved in the Big 12 who may be looking to take the next step in their coaching career. Granted, all three of these guys would likely prefer the Michigan job if it came open, but any of them would be a rock solid (if not particularly sexy) hire for the Aggies.

Other potential names:

  • Kalen DeBoer (Washington)
  • Jedd Fisch (Arizona)
  • Sherrone Moore (Michigan OC)
  • Dan Quinn (Dallas Cowboys DC)
  • Brian Hartline (Ohio State OC)
  • Curt Cignetti (James Madison)


Who would you like to see as Texas A&M’s next head coach

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    Dan Lanning
    (1580 votes)
  • 23%
    Dan Campbell
    (1437 votes)
  • 20%
    Mike Elko
    (1266 votes)
  • 12%
    Jeff Traylor
    (745 votes)
  • 4%
    Glenn Schumann
    (256 votes)
  • 2%
    Lance Leipold
    (170 votes)
  • 1%
    Chris Klieman
    (72 votes)
  • 2%
    Matt Campbell
    (157 votes)
  • 7%
    Other (comment below)
    (480 votes)
6163 votes total Vote Now