All right, let's make like Don Draper and look forward. That last guy tried to make us believe and then ditched us. Let's see who the next man up is gonna be. I'll give you five possible names from obvious to a little surprising.
1. Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Aranda
For continuity's sake, it absolutely makes sense. Outside of Melvin Gordon, Aranda was the best part of what the Badgers did most of the year. He's 36, and despite how the season ended, he's still universally beloved in Madison. Aranda is already a solid recruiter, having helped bring in five recruits for the class of 2015.
Of course, this would be Aranda's first head coaching job, and there would be a question of whether he's ready to be a head coach. But he replaced all seven starters of the Badgers' front last year, and they had a real strong season. You have to have him in consideration.
2. N.C. State head coach Dave Doeren
Gary Andersen Out
Gary Andersen Out
If you want the other probable local favorite, let's look at former Badger assistant Dave Doeren. N.C. State improved by four games from the season before. They have a bowl game with Central Florida. Offensively, it would likely bring back the immortal Matt Canada, though after the Andy Ludwig era, fans would be thrilled. Anyway, he's a 43-year-old head coach who knows how to recruit well in challenging circumstances and his only losing season was a year-zero situation. I'd be thrilled if they chose Doeren.
3. Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi
He's going to be the candidate for every open job in the Midwest and beyond until Mark Dantonio finally gets arrested for his spree killings or someone actually hires him. He's 48, and a defensive mastermind. Sure, the Badgers would have to double back toward more of a 4-3 defense, but Narduzzi's also a solid recruiter and knows how to make a spectacular defense. That said, he turned down Louisville when their job was open last season, and Michigan State had some rich benefactors help endow Narduzzi's salary so long as he stays at defensive coordinator.
4. Pittsburgh head coach Paul Chryst
Hey! He's still possible, and while he's been eminently mediocre at Pitt (19-19), he's still someone who knows how to build an offense. Joel Stave would absolutely have a shot at a spectacular senior season if the Badgers go bring the Madison native home. Truth be told, this is a name that's lost some luster after multiple seasons in the ACC where the Panthers have been on the treadmill to nowhere, but you will see his name called.
5. Marshall head coach Doc Holliday
The wizened veteran who might be looking for a last job. He made his bones as a recruiter in the Florida area for the Gators and the Mountaineers. He helped build Rakeem Cato into an offensive juggernaut. That said, he is 57 and there is nothing truly electrifying about hiring a 57-year-old, no matter how successful he's been.
Holliday did, however, get Marshall to an elite mid-major level. He'd definitely be worth a call for a team looking for that next step.