News broke early afternoon yesterday that now former outside linebackers coach Cort Dennison is returning to Louisville where he developed as a coach and an ace recruiter.
Who might be on the short list of candidates to replace him on Coach Mario Cristobal’s staff?
1. Donte Williams (Oregon cornerbacks coach)
- Williams cut his teeth in the coaching ranks as a linebackers coach at the FBS level at Nevada before heading to Washington in 2011 as cornerbacks / linebackers coach. He does have experience coaching the linebackers so it’s not like he’s brand new to the position. Known as an elite recruiter that has landed a majority of his targets in the pivotal battleground state of California. Moving Williams down a level to the linebackers will open up a spot in the secondary where there’s serious talent in coaching.
2. Keith Heyward (Oregon safeties coach)
- Well, he has experience coaching linebackers at Cal Poly so there’s that. An unlikely move that would necessitate a lot of moving around on staff on such short notice. It’s not a move Coach MC would make, probably.
1. Johnny Nansen (Assistant HC / Linebackers / Recruiting Coordinator)
- Nansen played linebacker for Washington State before starting his coaching career at the Cali high school level. He’s coached at the FCS level for a number of years before spending five years coaching in a variety of roles for that purple wearing school residing in Seattle. He started at USC as a RB coach before moving to linebackers the past three seasons. He’s an ideal candidate due to his extensive Pac-12 experience (which this staff heavily favors) and relatively recent trend of excellent player development on both sides of the ball. Great recruiter. Also brings recruiting coordinator experience.
2. Vernon Hargreaves (Missouri inside linebackers coach)
- Hargreaves has multiple ties to the current Ducks staff as he’s crossed paths with Coach Cristobal when he was a GA for the Hurricanes. He just missed Jim Leavitt at USF by a year. He’s a Miami coaching legend with extensive ties to the talent rich South Florida region because he spent a majority of his tenure in the area. Was the Canes’ LB coach during the dominant run in the early 2000s. Seriously, go look up the linebacker talent that the Canes had in that era. It’s insane. If he can be pried from Missouri, he would be my selection due to ties to the current staff and coaching talent.
3. Brian Polian (Notre Dame special teams coordinator)
- The son of long time NFL executive Bill Polian is carving his own path as a coach instead of a league executive like his father. Well regarded by the Notre Dame folks. Primarily a special teams guy throughout his career before and after his stint as Nevada head coach. Has Pac-12 experience with Stanford. Has coached at every level of the defense as well. If he were to be hired by Oregon, he would be an asset to assist Bobby Williams on special teams. Played linebacker for John Carroll.
4. Christian Robinson (Florida Assistant HC / Linebackers coach)
- He’s a Georgia native that graduated from UGA. Has ascended to linebackers coach for Florida in just five short years after spending most of his time in the state of Mississippi on both sides of the Egg Bowl as a GA. He’s a former linebacker. A rising star in the industry. He might not leave the comforts of the SEC, however.
5. Chris Marve (Vanderbilt Inside Linebackers coach)
- Vanderbilt alum who joined the coaching staff as a QC person in 2014. Promoted to ILB coach before the 2016 season. He was a standout linebacker for the Commodores. Helped coach two of the most talented linebackers in program history in Oren Burks and Zach Cunningham. I doubt that he leaves the comforts of “home” after such a hot start to his coaching career. He has made the list of 247 Sports’ 30 under 30 assistants list in consecutive years.
6. Glenn Schumann (Georgia inside linebackers coach)
- Schumann has ties to Mario Cristobal due to crossing paths while at Alabama. Graduated from Alabama. The current position at Georgia is his first on field role. He first started as one of the army of analysts at Bama before transitioning to an off field role in player personnel and recruiting. While he has connections to Coach MC, I think he stays with Georgia for a bit longer due to the success they are having and it’s close to home.
7. Randall Joyner (SMU DE coach)
- A well traveled SMU alum who started his coaching career at Hawaii and Ohio State before coming back to Dallas as the DE coach. Played linebacker. Made the list of 247 Sports’ 30 under 30 assistants. Has no ties to the staff but has a pretty solid resume for an assistant of his age.
8. Bojay Filimoeatu (Utah State OLB coach)
- Has connections to the Ducks staff via sharing SJSU experiences with OC Marcus Arroyo (different time periods but still same program) and coaching linebackers for rival Oregon State under former Beavers HC / USU HC Gary Andersen. Graduated from Utah State. Coached linebackers for SJSU as recently as the 2018 season when they played the Ducks so there’s another connection. If he were to be hired, he would strengthen the Polynesian pipeline alongside Coach Big Joe. I’m not sure he leaves after coming home so soon though.
Note: All info was pulled from the coaches’ respective school websites.