FARGO — At least ESPN thinks highly enough of North Dakota State head football coach Matt Entz that the national network put him on a short list for the vacancy at Vanderbilt University on Monday. The school fired Derek Mason after the Commodores fell to 0-8 on Saturday.
ESPN, in its online edition, put Entz as a "potential target" along with several other notable names like former Tennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher and Indiana head coach Tom Allen. Bison fans may recognize Coastal Carolina head coach Jamey Chadwell, who brought his Charleston Southern team to Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome in 2016; Tulane head coach Willie Fritz, who was the head coach at Sam Houston when the Bison beat the Bearkats twice in FCS national title games and Army head coach Jeff Monken, who was the head coach at Georgia Southern when the Eagles came to Fargo for playoff games in 2011 and 2012.
Other coaches ESPN identified are Buffalo head coach Lance Liepold, Notre Dame defensive coordinator Clark Lea, Louisiana Tech head coach Skip Holtz, Charlotte head coach Will Healy and Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo. CBS Sports named James Madison head coach Curt Cignetti as a possible successor.
The attraction of Vanderbilt is it plays in the SEC and accordingly is a highly-paid position. The last published salary for Mason (Vanderbilt is a private institution) was $2.8 million per year in 2016. The downside is winning in the SEC is a tough proposition for a school with low esteem on the tradition scale. CBS national football writer Dennis Dodd called it a "bottomless pit" of college football jobs.
Entz, considering he's been a head coach for just one year at an FCS school, would seemingly be a longshot. It's also debatable if he would even want it considering the dead-end nature of Vanderbilt football in recent years, but James Franklin also parlayed the job into the head coaching position at Penn State after the 2013 season.