Now that the dust is settling over the firing of Utah football Coach Jim Fassel, his possible successors are already lining up, each hoping to be chosen to bring the Utes out of the wilderness.
Although Athletic Director Chris Hill says he will not release the names of candidates, a number of them aren't bashful about indicating their interest. Here is a look at some who have shown, or will likely show, interest in the job:The Locals
Jack Reilly - The Utah offensive coordinator has been a large part of the spectacular attack the Utes have had for the past five years, and Reilly has indicated he would like to be the head coach. Though he is from the old Jim Fassel regime - which may hurt his chances - Reilly's ace in the hole is that if he becomes the head coach, he may be able to keep quarterback Scott Mitchell in Utah for his senior season.
Another possible scenario is that the new coach may keep Reilly on to lead the offense. His talents are still extremely marketable because offense was never the Utes' problem.
Ron McBride - McBride finished second to Chuck Stobart in 1981 for the coaching job, and he knows the particulars of Utah well. McBride was an assistant under Wayne Howard, Stobart and Fassel.
McBride's stock has gone up dramatically since he left Utah the last time. He has spent time at Wisconsin and is now the assistant head coach at Arizona under Dick Tomey. His name is already out as a candidate for the vacant Wisconsin head coaching position, and he was been named in one publication as one of five assistant coaches likely to get a head job this year.
An important consideration is that McBride developed excellent offensive lines at Utah - an area in which the Utes have been weak. With McBride there would also be little transition involved. "I've always thought Utah was a great situation," says McBride, who has talked already with Hill about the job.
McBride is convinced defense is where he would start his work.
Lastly, McBride thinks he can bring some pride in the Ute program that has been missing for decades. "There are some things that can be done that people don't think are capable of being done at Utah," he says. "I've always believed Utah was a great job and it could be one of the best, if not the best, program in the conference."
Pokey Allen - The former Ute quarterback has a decent following in Salt Lake. Perhaps that is because he was quarterback on the last Ute team to go to a bowl game - the '64 Liberty Bowl club.
Allen isn't short on credentials. He has coached in the Canadian Football League, been head coach at Simon Fraser and a defensive coordinator at Montana, Eastern Washington, and with the L.A. Express and the Portland Breakers of the old USFL. He was also defensive backfield coach at Cal-Berkeley. For the past four years he has been busy at NCAA Division II Portland State as head coach, where he built a 37-14-2 record.
"I'd be interested," says Allen. "I said from day one at Portland State that there's not a lot of jobs I really wanted, but Utah would definitely be a school I'd be interested in. I went to Utah, and I've kept track of it."
John Pease - Another ex-Ute assistant, Pease's name shows up every time there's a job opening at Utah. A defensive line coach for the New Orleans Saints, the 46-year-old Pease was a wingback for the Utes in 1963-64. He was also a Ute assistant in 1977 and has spent time on the sidelines at Fullerton J.C., Long Beach State, Washington and in the USFL.
Chuck Banker - A special teams coach for the Washington Redskins last year, Banker was a Ute assistant twice - in 1966-67 and 1974-75. He also coached two years at Westminster and Boise State.
Ted Tollner - The former USC head coach is now the assistant head coach for the San Diego Chargers.
Tollner's name came up in connection with the Colorado State job last year.
Besides having head coaching experience, Tollner was a quarterbacks coach at BYU and might provide the Utes with some valuable information on how to beat their arch-rival.
Keith Gilbertson - The former Utah State assistant coach has shown he can coach winning football. He went from USU, where he worked under Chris Pella and Bruce Snyder, to an assistant's job at Idaho. Then he became head coach, and the Vandals continued to be the class of the Big Sky under his direction. Last year Gilbertson resigned and moved on to Washington as an assistant. He has reportedly made phone calls to friends inquiring about the Utah job and, over the years, indicated the Ute position is one he would covet.
Dave Kragthorpe - The Oregon State head coach's name came up in a Portland newspaper this week in connection with the vacant Ute post. Kragthorpe, who was an assistant at BYU and led Idaho State to a I-AA national championship, is another high-tech passing enthusiast.
Kragthorpe has two years remaining on his contract at OSU, and says he's talked to nobody at Utah. He declined to comment on whether he would be interested in the Utah job.
The Best of the Rest
Jim Colletto - Ohio State's offensive coordinator, Colletto has been around the block a few times in 20 years of coaching: UCLA, Purdue, Ohio State, Arizona State, Cal State Fullerton (head coach).
Besides an impressive resume - which he has already mailed off to Hill - and a reputation as a good recruiter, Colletto seems to know how to build good, physical teams. "To be real good in any league, you've got to be a good defensive team," he says.
Colletto continues, "At some point in the program, when it comes down to the nitty gritty, you've got to get tough and play football."
Jerry Pettibone - As Northern Illinois' head coach, Pettibone took the Huskies to a 9-2 record this year.
Pettibone has a reputation as a tremendous recruiter. He has been credited with bringing Mike Rozier to Nebraska and Leroy Selmon to Oklahoma. In 1984 he was labeled by one publication as the best recruiter in America.
Pettibone, whose name is also being considered at Wisconsin, has an impressive list of stops as an assistant: Texas A&M, Nebraska, SMU, Oklahoma. He also says he would be interested in the Ute job.
Pettibone was an assistant at Nebraska nine years ago when he applied for the Utah job that was taken by Chuck Stobart.
There's one hitch: He loves the wishbone, and says that's what he'd want to run at Utah. Chances of keeping Mitchell at Utah if Pettibone got the job? Slim and none.
Gene Murphy - The Cal State Fullerton head coach was a hot item six years ago when he reportedly turned down the Ute job. Today he's still in Fullerton, and said to be interested in Utah. However, Utah may not be as interested in him. The Titans have fallen on hard times and the program isn't nearly as strong as it was back when Utah came courting the first time.