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In this day and age of college football, assistant coaches take almost as much heat as the head coaches. With increased salaries comes increased responsibility and scrutiny. For every Manny Diaz (who got blown out as DC at Texas earlier this year) there is a Tim DeRuyter (who went from DC at Texas A&M to head coach at Fresno State where he is undefeated in 2013).
Here are six assistant coaches that in my opinion, should get a shot to be a head coach in 2014….
Cam Cameron, Offensive Coordinator, LSU
Cameron brings both NFL head coaching experience (Miami) and college head coaching (Indiana) experience to the table. He wasn't successful at either spot but after his startling turnaround of the LSU offense this season, I think somebody will be willing to give him another shot this off-season. The Tigers offense is scoring more than ten points per game over their 2012 average. Cameron is only making $600K this season but that moves up to $1.3 million in 2014 and $1.5 million in 2015 so it will take a high profile job to get Cameron away from Baton Rouge.
Bob Diaco, Defensive Coordinator, Notre Dame
Diaco was a bit of a journeyman, as are a lot of assistant coaches (who have to go place to place for promotions), before he settled at Notre Dame in 2010. In 2012, he won the Broyles award for the best assistant coach. Before Diaco's arrival, the Irish gave up 25.9 ppg in 2009. Under Diaco, in 2010 they gave up 20.2, in 2011 they gave up 20.7, in 2012 they gave up just 12.8 and this year they are giving up 23.2. Look for Diaco's name to pop up this off-season for any Big Ten openings.
Tom Herman, Offensive Coordinator, Ohio State
Herman has moved up the ranks step by step and is now at the top of the heap coaching under Urban Meyer at Ohio State. You can't argue with the success that the Buckeyes have had under Meyer's coaching staff as they don't have a loss on their record. The Buckeyes offense went from averaging 24.5 ppg in 2011 to a B1G leading 37.2 ppg last season and this year they are averaging a whopping 48.2 ppg. Maybe the most impressive accomplishment was when starting QB Braxton Miller got hurt for several games, the offense didn't miss a beat. Herman has been successful at every level and now it's time for him to prove if he can do it as a head coach.
Chad Morris, Offensive Coordinator, Clemson
Chad Morris's name comes up a lot when talking about head coaching openings. The big reason is the style of offense that he runs and how popular that offense is right now in college football. Morris worked under Gus Malzahn earlier in his career and you can bet some schools are going to want Morris to replicate what Malzahn is doing at Auburn this season. Last year, Morris interviewed for the Texas Tech job and I would expect him to get some good looks this off-season.
Pat Narduzzi, Defensive Coordinator, Michigan State
Narduzzi has been entrenched as the Michigan State DC since the 2007 season and his Spartans defense really started to turn some heads in 2011 when they allowed 18.4 ppg. In 2012, Narduzzi's troops increased their stinginess as they allowed just 16. 3 and this year they are allowing an eye-popping 11.6. Narduzzi's name was discussed last year for head coaching jobs and higher profile assistant jobs but he should be a hot commodity this off-season. Narduzzi currently makes $512K and is on record as saying that he wants to be a head coach but won't leave for "just any job".
Kirby Smart, Defensive Coordinator, Alabama
Kirby has been in Nick Saban's womb for long enough. He worked with Saban in 2004 at LSU and he worked with him from 2006 to the present in the NFL and in college at Alabama. Smart has learned all that he is going to learn from Saban and it's time for him to step out on his own. Kirby makes $1.2 million as an assistant coach at Alabama and that might be holding him back a bit in becoming a head coach because it's going to take a high profile job to get him out from under Nick's thumb.