While the circumstances that led to it are still unbelievable, FAU will indeed have a coaching vacancy at the end of the season.
FAU Athletic Director Pat Chun said Wednesday that the search for FAU's next head coach has already started, but acknowledged that he's not actively pursuing a coach right now. That did not change after 24 hours.
Chun didn't hire Pelini, but he didn't expect to hire his replacement this soon either. Chun might not have anything more than a brainstorming list, but there are candidates that you can expect to be present when Chun's search goes active:
- Luke Fickell — defensive coordinator — Ohio State: Chun is a buckeye though and through. He was raised in Cleveland, went to Ohio State, worked in that athletic department his entire career, eventually getting up to No. 2 before leaving to take the top job at FAU. Fickell took over for Jim Tressel when the former Ohio State coach resigned. [Tressel, with two years of a show-cause remaining, will not be considered for this job. FAU can't take the PR hit.] When Urban Meyer came on, Fickell was maintained as his defensive coordinator. Fickell has said he's content in his current position, but a head coaching job like FAU could intrigue him. This is likely Chun's first call.
- Charlie Partridge — assistant head coach — Arkansas: The other theme of this list is "South Florida Recruiters" and in my opinion, Partridge is as good a South Florida recruiter as there is. He's a Plantation native, and a high-character guy who would bring immediate legitimacy to a program that has failed to endear itself to local high school coaches since 2011.
- Eddie Gran — offensive coordinator — Cincinnati: If anyone is better at recruiting South Florida than Partridge, it's Gran. Everywhere he's went, he's cultivated talent from this part of the country, and he's just missed out on a head coaching job for the past three offseasons. FAU could have had him in 2011. They might right the wrong in 2013.
- Brian Jenkins — head coach — Bethune Cookman: You might not have noticed, but Bethune Cookman is one of the better 1-AA [fine, FCS] programs in the nation, and the credit should go to Jenkins. He's a Dillard grad and someone who FAU assistants know well — he's convinced a few FAU targets to play for him in a lower division. He'll be building a FBS program soon — FAU can get ahead of the curve.
- Geoff Collins — defensive coordinator — Mississippi State: Another coach who has an excellent recruiting track record, Collins was previously UCF's recruiting coordinator. He's not a South Florida native, and he doesn't have ties to Ohio or Chun, but he's a relentless self-promoter and nearly landed himself the FIU job with his persistence (you can see why he's a good recruiter.) He'll be a factor.
- James Coley — offensive coordinator — Miami: Coley has South Florida ties and wanted the FIU job bad. He'll throw his name into the hat for the FAU job.
- Tim Brewster — recruiting coordinator — Florida State: This is a wildcard selection, but Brewster established a better-than-expected program at Minnesota before getting the boot. He's a program builder and has an energy that can spark a dormant flame. Not certain he's resigned to a fate of being an assistant.
- Roger Harriott — head coach — University School (Davie): Harriott has been on the college coaching radar for years, going as far to accept an assistant's job at Syracuse before changing his mind and returning to U-School in 2010. He built U-School from nothing and has a preternatural understanding of South Florida talent. His charm has never come across as disengenuous, and he can both fundraise and coach. It would be a bold hire, but Harriott is qualified to make the high school to FBS jump.