There are certainties in life, but rarely in coaching searches. They often take on a life of their own, especially in these times when information and misinformation can spread so quickly.
But for now, at least, two favorites have emerged as leading candidates to fill the head football coaching vacancy at N.C. State. Sonny Dykes has spent the past three seasons as the head coach at Louisiana Tech. And Chad Morris has spent the past two seasons as the offensive coordinator at Clemson.
Both are known as aggressive, successful recruiters. Both are known for their up-tempo, high-scoring offenses. Heres a look at how Dykes and Morris compare in a variety of categories, beginning and ending with their ability to recruit:
Debbie Yow, the N.C. State athletic director, has made it clear she wants to hire a coach who can recruit at the highest level. Dykes and Morris fit that description, said Mike Farrell, a national college football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com.
I dont think they can go wrong, Farrell said, speaking of Dykes and Morris recruiting ability.
Before becoming the head coach at Louisiana Tech, Dykes spent seven seasons at Texas Tech and three at Arizona. Hes familiar with recruiting the talent-rich state of Texas, and also has put together a talented roster in the heart of SEC country at Louisiana Tech.
Morris has far less college coaching experience, but excelled as a high school in Texas before becoming the offensive coordinator at Tulsa in 2010. His high-powered offense recruits itself, Farrell said.
Its one of the most dynamic offenses in college football, Farrell said. So kids are going to want to play for that guy.
Yow has said that lack of college head coaching experience wouldnt preclude a candidate from being considered. And good thing for Morris, given he has no college head coaching experience.
On paper, Dukes, 43, would appear the more desirable candidate. He has a wealth of experience as an assistant coach in college, and he took over a 4-8 Louisiana Tech team that he guided to five wins in 2010, eight in 2011 and nine this season.
Morris, who will turn 44 on Dec. 4, spent 16 years as a high school head coach in Texas. He won nearly 82 percent of his games during that span, and led Lake Travis High to back-to-back 16-0 state championship seasons. Overall, his teams won three state championships and he coached in the championship game six times.
In Morris first season at Clemson, the Tigers averaged 440.8 yards and 33.6 points per game. At Louisiana Tech, Dykes offense currently leads the nation in total offense (577.9 yards per game) and scoring offense (51.5 points per game).
When Larry Fedora became the head coach at North Carolina, he told those at his introductory press conference to buckle their seatbelts. He promised a wild ride and an up-tempo, relentless offense.
Since his earliest days as an offensive coordinator, Fedora has utilized the spread offense. So, too, do Dykes and Morris.
Dykes worked under Mike Leach, now the coach at Washington State, during his days at Texas Tech, and Dykes offense mirrors that old Red Raiders offense, which relied heavily on the passing game. During his years at Tech, Dykes coached quarterback Graham Harrell, who threw for 4,555 yards in 2006.
At Arizona, Dykes offenses set five single-season records.
Morris also utilizes the spread, but his body of work at least on the collegiate level consists of just two seasons, one of which is still ongoing. Still, what Morris has done at Clemson has been impressive. The Tigers ranked 88th in total offense in 2010 and improved to 26th in 2011 in Morris first season there.
Yows search is likely to begin and end with thoughts about which candidate be it Dykes, Morris or someone else can do the best job of luring talented players to N.C. State, which didnt recruit particularly well under former coach Tom OBrien.
Dykes has proven he can recruit and while Morris hasnt been at Clemson long, he served as the lead recruiter for quarterback Chad Kelly and running back Zac Brooks, both of whom were four-star prospects who signed with Clemson in February.
To get the offensive talent that theyre getting at Clemson, you have to have an offensive coordinator who can help close out kids not only on campus but on the road, said Farrell, the recruiting analyst.
Morris, in his limited time at Clemson, has proven he can do that.
Whomever becomes the next coach at N.C. State, though, will face a unique set of challenges in recruiting. Going head-to-head against Fedora and his young, aggressive staff at UNC will be one of those. But, Farrell said, I dont think Fedora is the problem. And thats nothing against him, because he is a strong recruiter. The problem is Georgia, Florida, Clemson all the schools down south that have traditionally raided that state and taken all the good players.
Thats what the real problem is. Its going to take something special to stop that.