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NY Jets: 3 college head coaches to target in the offseason

NY Jets (Photo by David K Purdy/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by David K Purdy/Getty Images)
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NY Jets
NY Jets

NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Brian Powers-USA TODAY Sports

The NY Jets could target these three college coaches to replace Adam Gase.

The NY Jets are set to embark on one of the most important coaching searches in franchise history this offseason. Adam Gase will inevitably be fired, likely as soon as the Monday following the last game of the season.

That much is certain. But who the Jets will ultimately target to replace Gase remains a hot topic of discussion.

After completely and utterly failing with the Gase hire, the Jets can ill-afford to make a similar mistake this time around — especially with a new young quarterback likely joining the fray.

There will be plenty of options to choose from, all from varying backgrounds. But one coaching pipeline that has received a lot more love in recent years is the college ranks.

In the past, hiring college coaches was seen as more of a risk — and with good reason. After all, the college game was a very different one from the pros and, needless to say, what worked in the NCAA wouldn’t always work in the NFL.

However, times have changed and the NFL game closely resembles its college counterpart now. No longer are college coaches “risky” hires. Instead, we’re likely to see more and more teams go this route in the coming years.

With that in mind, which college coaches could the Jets look to hire this offseason? We take a look at three very appealing options.

Next: 3. Pat Fitzgerald

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NY Jets

NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

3. The NY Jets could hire Northwestern HC Pat Fitzgerald

The Jets were connected to Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald earlier in the year with rumors that the team was already “doing research on” the long-tenured Wildcats coach.

And given his success in Evanston, that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.

Fitzgerald has been with Northwestern since 2006 and is more or less an icon there. The school has had its down years under his tutelage — after all, it’s still Northwestern — but he might be putting together the best year of his career this season.

The 46-year-old has the Wildcats ranked as the No. 14 team in the nation and they’ll be taking on Justin Fields and Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship.

Fitzgerald has drawn interest from NFL programs in the past with both the Carolina Panthers and Green Bay Packers requesting interviews with him last offseason — both of which he declined.

But perhaps no team has been connected to him more than his hometown Chicago Bears. If Fitzgerald ever were to leave his alma mater, it would likely be for the Bears.

However, if the Jets can find a way to snag a highly-touted program-builder like Fitzgerald, it would certainly be a worthwhile hire.

Next: 2. David Shaw

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NY Jets

NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

2. The NY Jets could hire Stanford HC David Shaw

Another long-tenured college coach, David Shaw has been the head coach at Stanford since 2011 and has been with the program in some capacity since 2007. He, much like Fitzgerald, is more or less royalty in Palo Alto.

But there are reasons to believe that he’d be more willing to leave his job than Fitzgerald.

For starters, while he’s insisted in the past that he sees his Stanford job as more than just a stepping stone, it’s hard to argue that he hasn’t already done it all with the Cardinal.

A three-time Pac-12 champion, two-time Rose Bowl victor, and four-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year, Shaw has put together a decorated career at Stanford. But the program has lost some of its luster in recent years and he may feel that his career has plateaued.

If the right NFL team comes calling, perhaps he could be convinced to leave. And that team might be the Jets.

Shaw actually crossed paths with Jets’ general manager Joe Douglas in Baltimore while the former was working as the team’s quarterbacks coach back in the mid-2000s. That connection could be the selling point the Jets need to bring Shaw to Florham Park.

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With a background as a quarterbacks coach, Shaw might love the opportunity to work with a new young quarterback such as, say, Trevor Lawrence.

In fact, the last quarterback prospect that received as much hype as Lawrence was developed by Shaw himself at Stanford, Andrew Luck.

Perhaps Shaw could work to develop two once-in-a-generation quarterback prospects in his lifetime.

Next: 1. Matt Campbell

NY Jets
NY Jets

NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Brian Powers-USA TODAY Sports

1. The NY Jets could hire Iowa State HC Matt Campbell

Matt Cambell has risen through the ranks of the coaching world and is currently considered by many to be one of the hottest NFL head coach candidates in the country.

Whether that means he lands a high-profile college job such as at Texas or Michigan or it means he looks to the NFL, Campbell is due for a promotion after the work he’s done at both Toledo and now Iowa State.

The 41-year-old Ohio native has managed to turn a perennial losing program based out of Ames, Iowa into a regular eight-win school despite an overwhelming lack of talent. And for that reason — and a host of other reasons — few candidates are more appealing than Campbell.

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Under Campbell’s guidance, not only as Iowa State regular competed with Big 12 powerhouses such as Oklahoma and TCU, but they’ve beaten them on multiple occasions. It’s why Campbell is a two-time Big 12 Coach of the Year and seems poised to win the award for a third time this year.

The Jets need to hire a proven leader who is more than just an “offensive mind.” Which, don’t get me wrong, Campbell is as well. But he’s so much more than that.

He’s a culture changer, a program builder, and a leader of men. Excuse the coaching cliches for a moment, but they’re all the truth.

NY Jets: 3 coaching candidates the team must stay away from. Next

Matt Campbell should be at the top of the Jets’ target list this offseason. Not just in reference to college coaches either, but all potential candidates.

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