When we sat around to discuss possible coaching vacancies during the preseason, Iowa State was not even considered. After all, the Cyclones had experienced yet another 3-9 season under then first year head coach Matt Campbell. Nobody expects a 3-9 head coach to suddenly be poached by another school.
However, Iowa State is already 5-2 with a win over Oklahoma in Norman on their resume, and a dominate win against Texas Tech this past Saturday. The Cyclones two losses aren’t too bad, either. They came against rival Iowa and a tough loss to a surging Texas. Nobody knows who is ever going to win a rivalry game, and as much as Iowa State has improved, nobody expects them to win every toss up game.
Their success this season has caused some to take notice, like ESPN’s College GameDay analyst and game announcer Kirk Herbstreit.
Dear AD’s thinking of making a new hire I’ll save you your coaching search firm fee-go DIRECTLY to Ames, IA and get Matty Campbell FAST!!
— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) October 21, 2017
Could Campbell be about to be poached at the end of the year?
Well first, it’s unlikely Campbell goes to any school which is not a top-tier program with history…and lots and lots of money. It would not make much sense to make a lateral move as he seems pretty happy in Ames.
The buy out is also a major factor. It would be over $9 million after this season. That alone is probably too big a hurdle for anyone to over come. Especially any school interested will likely be looking at a buyout for the former coach as well. Most schools will try to find better value elsewhere, which suits Cyclone’s fans just fine.
However, is there anyone out there desperate enough to make a run at Campbell? The top two candidates are Nebraska and Tennessee.
Nebraska fans have their hearts set on current UCF head coach and former Nebraska player, Scot Frost. However, should Frost turn them down or it just not work out, the administration could look at Campbell. Campbell is a Big Ten country guy and deep down, wants to be in the Big Ten Conference. He would prefer a Great Lakes school, but the history and resources of Nebraska would be hard to pass up. Plus, no Great Lakes school is looking to replace their coach right now.
Of course, this is assuming that Tennessee does not already have Campbell locked up by that time. It became fairly obvious early in the season that Butch Jones will not be back to coach Tennessee in 2018. At least if he is, we will be very surprised. John Currie, Tennessee’s Athletic Director, came from Kansas State this past spring. He has seen what Campbell has done up close. He has also had to plan for Bill Snyder’s eventual retirement, meaning he has been watching up-and-coming coaches for a while. If and when Butch Jones is fired, Currie could be ready to announce a new coach the minute the final whistle blows to bring an end to the Volunteer’s misery this season.
The current favorite for that spot may just be Matt Campbell. And, as more spots open up, expect Campbell’s name to be at the top of those lists. The only question will be is whether or not they can afford him.