The Bearkats of Sam Houston State made a great hire in Willie Fritz a few years ago, two finals appearances later, Fritz is heading to Georgia to take over the newly elevated Georgia Southern Eagles. Sam has moved on as well, Coaching Scoop is reporting that Mel Tjeerdsma (pronounced "Tjeerdsma") is new man in Huntsville with an announcement coming today.
Tjeerdsma is one of five finalist for the job along with former Delaware Head Coach K. C. Keeler, former Rice Assistant Scott Wachenheim, UNT Offensive Coordinator Mike Canales and former UT assistant Darrell Wyatt.
Tjeerdsma is an interesting choice if only because at 67 he's the oldest of the five candidates. He'll be 68 in may. You can't really argue with his success. Tjeerdsam led Northwest Missouri State to three national titles and several other deep playoff runs. Tjeerdsma retired in 2010 then unretired to take over the Athletic Director position at Northwest Missouri State.
Tjeerdsma has some Texas roots after his run at Austin College in the 80's. He also interviewed for the UTSA job back in 2009. Apparently he's got grandkids in Texas, he retired to spend more time with them. I assume he's spent time with them and has decided to un-retire.
If Tjeerdsma's the guy, best of luck old sport, Willie Fritz has the ground work laid and whoever comes in will find talent in Huntsville.
So...nothing happened on Wednesday. Despite news outlets across the mid and southwest reporting it, as of this morning (Thursday) Mel Tjeerdsma is not officially the head coach at SHSU.
While we're here, why don't we rank the 5 finalists. That seems real sportsy.
1. Mike Canales OC UNT, I've always liked Canales. He was the interim coach at North Texas when the great Todd Dodge experiment went off the rails. Rather, he was the interim coach at North Texas after the great Todd Dodge experiment had been off the rails for a while.
2. Mel Tjeerdsma, he'd be number one if it wasn't for his age. I don't think you want to be looking for a new guy in 3 years. He's the most proven winner on this list.
3. Scott Wachenheim, O-Line coach Virginia, Wachenheim has big Texas ties thanks to his time at Rice. He has the most diverse experience of the group without being a head coach. He's coached in the NFL as well as all over the FBS at a number of positions, including coordinator at Rice.
4. Darrell Wyatt, this one is hard to figure, his experience is impressive, but they throw titles around like crazy at UT. Officially he was the Co-Offensive Coordinator/Wide Receivers coach. Now did he call plays? I doubt it. I'd be hesitant to hire someone who hasn't at least been a coordinator.
5. K.C. Keeler, Keeler had a decent run at Delaware, and he's been mentioned for other head coaching jobs. He won at Delaware but he never captured the hearts and minds of the Blue Hen faithful. He comes across as a bit of a prick. Plus his ties to the state are minimal.