With Kliff Kingsbury returning to Texas Tech take over at his alma mater, Texas A&M has an unexpected vacancy at offensive coordinator. There are a number of candidates whom head coach Kevin Sumlin could target from outside and a few he could choose to promote from within.
Whatever the case may be, whoever takes over will have plenty of new toys to play with, and the opening will assuredly be highly sought after.
Here's a short list of potential candidates that make sense:
• Noel Mazzone, UCLA -- Mazzone was on Sumlin's radar when he took the A&M job last December. The two have a good relationship. Mazzone took over at UCLA after Sumlin brought Kingsbury with him to College Station. He guided freshman quarterback Brett Hundley to a solid first season and led the Bruins to the 20th best offense in the land. He earned $350,000 in 2012, according to the Los Angeles Times.
• Jason Phillips, SMU -- Sumlin isn't looking for somebody who is going to overhaul the offense. Why fix what ain't broken? With Phillips, you'd get a seamless transition. He was the co-offensive coordinator alongside Kingsbury at Houston in 2011 and ran the SMU offense in 2012. It wouldn't be a big-splash hire as far as publicity, but it would make a lot of sense.
• David Beaty, A&M wide receivers coach -- Beaty makes the most sense. He has experience as an offensive coordinator, calling plays at both Kansas and Rice. There would be no adjustment period as the Aggies would then only need to hire a new quarterbacks coach. And you would be promoting the best recruiter you have on staff, for Beaty has been tremendous in garnering commitments in the Metroplex.
• Clarence McKinney, A&M running backs coach -- McKinney has also been a stud recruiter, getting big commitments out of the Houston area. He's been in charge of the running game and has been with Sumlin since 2008. The one knock on McKinney is that he's never been in charge of calling plays.
Though Johnny Manziel tweeted Tuesday about bringing Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris back to A&M -- his alma mater -- it would be incredibly costly for both Morris and the Aggies. Morris is making $1.3 million annually, the highest-paid assistant in all of college football. Also, if he were to leave for a coordinator position at another program, he'd owe Clemson a buyout of more than $6 million.