John Fay: List to replace Tommy Tuberville likely starts with Kerry Coombs

But would it work out?
John Fay: List to replace Tommy Tuberville likely starts with Kerry Coombs
Posted at 1:01 PM, Dec 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-04 18:09:16-05

CINCINNATI -- My guess is the list of candidates to replace Tommy Tuberville begins with Kerry Coombs.

Tuberville resigned Sunday after going 4-8 in his fourth season at the University of Cincinnati.

Coombs, the current Ohio State special teams coordinator and corner back coach and former Colerain coach, brings enthusiasm by the barrel. But he’s 55; UC may lean toward an up-and-comer after the Tuberville failure.

That list would include anyone at a smaller program with recent success: Jeff Brohm from Western Kentucky, P.J. Fleck from Western Michigan, Neal Brown of Troy State come to mind.

Jeff Brohm of the Western Kentucky. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The only one that knows the real list is Mike Bohn, UC’s athletic director. Remember, UC is operating without a president.

But you’d think Bohn would at least look at Coombs, who started his college coaching career at UC. Coombs would sell the program like no one else.

He’s also a terrific recruiter. The downside is he’s never been a head coach or even offensive or defensive coordinator at the college level.

Another thing worth mentioning: His fiery demeanor is similar to Gerry Faust’s. Faust had unprecedented success at Moeller, but his act did not play at Notre Dame.

But Faust went straight from high school head coach to college head coach. Coombs spent three years on Brian Kelly’s staff at UC before being hired away by Ohio State.

He’s coached under Urban Meyer, unarguably one of the two top coaches in college football.

Coombs was at the Bengals game Sunday. His son, Brayden, is assistant special teams coach. Coombs would not say if UC has contracted him.

“I’m just worrying about beating Clemson,” he told “I know I’m getting a lot of phone calls. We’ll see."

Neal Brown of Troy State. Photo by Butch Dill/Getty Images

Brown, 36, was 9-2 at Troy State this year. He grew up in Danville, Kentucky, and played at Kentucky before transferring to UMass-Amherest.

Brohm, 45, is 30-10 at Western Kentucky. He played at Louisville and spent seven years as an NFL backup. He was an assistant at Louisville, Florida Atlantic, Illinois and UAB before becoming Western’s coach three years ago.

Fleck is only 36, but he’s 30-21 at Western Michigan -- that’s after going 1-11 in 2013 his first year. He has ties to the Midwest: He was an assistant at OSU, Rutgers and Northern Illinois.

P.J. Fleck of Western Michigan. Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

UC did well in hiring Kelly and Butch Jones out of the Mid-American Conference.

They also did well hiring Mark Dantonio, a Big Ten coordinator. Luke Fickell, OSU defensive coordinator, is a name to look at if they go that route. That’s the job Dantonio held when UC hired him.

I’m guessing UC would not go the retread route after Tuberville, but former LSU coach Les Miles and former Texas coach Charlie Strong are available.

The Bearcats are probably smart to act fast. Purdue, Oregon and Baylor have openings.

John Fay is a freelance sports columnist; this column represents his opinion. Contact him at