TONY LEVINE

Currently: Purdue University Assistant Coach

Levine has been busy this year at Purdue, serving as the special teams coordinator and co-offensive coordinator. He filled the same position at Western Kentucky University, a member of Conference USA, in 2016. Before coming to WKU, he was at the University of Houston for seven years and served as head coach from 2011 to 2014. The search committee will likely value his vast experience recruiting in the Houston area and coaching in C-USA.

LANCE ANDERSON

Currently: Stanford University Defensive Coordinator

Anderson is in his 11th season at Stanford and his fourth as defensive coordinator. Stanford’s defenses have been among the best in the nation during his tenure, ranking 18th in the country in points against in 2016, 33rd in 2015 and second in 2014. He is the program’s liaison to the admissions office, so he has worked to admit qualified athletes at a top academic university. His coaching ability and experience at an elite academic institution should make him attractive to Rice.

MIKE BLOOMGREN

Currently: Stanford Offensive Coordinator

Now in his seventh season at Stanford, Bloomgren is both offensive coordinator and associate head coach alongside head coach David Shaw. He also coaches the offensive line, which has helped clear the way for star running backs Christian McCaffrey and Bryce Love over recent years. Like Anderson, his experience at a top academic institution and his coaching success will be his strongest attributes if he chooses to apply for the job.

KURT ROPER

Currently: University of South Carolina Co-Offensive Coordinator

Roper is a Rice alum who played quarterback for the Owls in the 1990s. Since then, he has coached in FBS football for 20 years. Most of his time has been spent as a quarterbacks coach or offensive coordinator in the Southeastern Conference and the Atlantic Coast Conference, both of which are Power 5 conferences. He also had a brief stint as an offensive assistant for the Cleveland Browns in 2015. Although his offenses at South Carolina have struggled over the past two years, he has a great deal of experience in college coaching and has been at Rice before, so he should be a serious candidate.

WILD CARD

One other possibility would be for Rice to hire a coach who runs the triple option. Army, Navy and Georgia Tech have used this offense for years. The system relies almost exclusively on run plays and seeks to wear a defense down with repeated small gains on the ground. It does not require star quarterbacks because there is little passing. It also keeps the other team’s offense off the field because it runs the clock. The system typically works well at schools like Rice because it relies on speed and decision making rather than sheer athleticism. Employing a triple option system could help Rice compete despite its difficult position in recruiting.