(CBS) After firing Ron Zook Sunday, the Illini have started searching for their next head coach.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi is the favorite, while Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano and Toledo head coach Tim Beckham are also being considered.
Narduzzi has done an incredible job with the Spartans’ defense this season. Despite losing several key players from last season, the Michigan State defense is tops in the Big Ten and ranks third overall in the country behind only Alabama and LSU. Narduzzi also has a history with Illinois Athletic Director Mike Thomas as the two overlapped at Cincinnati in 2005 and 2006.
Schiano is another interesting candidate. He has been at Rutgers since 2001 and has turned a lowly program into one that regularly appears in bowl games.
Meanwhile, Beckham has overhauled a Toledo program, leading to bowl-eligibility the last two seasons.
Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst also figures to be a serious candidate. He’s widely considered as one of the top assistants in the country and has previously been considered for head coaching jobs at Purdue and Pittsburgh. Last year, Texas courted him hard to become the Longhorns’ offensive coordinator, but Chryst chose to stay in Madison.