10 possible candidates to replace Bryan Blitz, who's stepping down as Mizzou's soccer coach
For the first time, Missouri women's soccer is undergoing a coaching change.
The Tigers' longtime and inaugural women's soccer coach, Bryan Blitz, announced Sunday he was stepping away from the program after 25 seasons at the helm.
Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk says a national search for his replacement is underway.
So who could be the next to lead the Tigers?
Here are 10 names to keep an eye on for Missouri's next head soccer coach:
Credentials: Missouri associate head coach (2015-present), Colorado assistant coach (2012-14), Wyoming assistant coach (2011), Montana State University-Billings head coach (2002-10)
Eric's take: The easiest place to look for Blitz's successor is already in town in his top assistant, Trentham. The O'Fallon native has been with the Tigers for the past six years, primarily working with the Missouri defense. Trentham has never been a Division I head coach, but also represents the smoothest transition having already developed relationships with current players and recruits.
Credentials: Washington State head coach (2015-present), Texas Tech associate head coach (2013-14), Missouri assistant coach (2009-12), Clemson assistant coach (2007-08)
Eric's take: Is it easier to win in Columbia than Pullman, Washington? That's your pitch to the high-level Division I head coach with the most direct path to Missouri. Shulenberger was an assistant under Blitz for four seasons. Entering his sixth season guiding the Cougars, Shulenberger has accrued an overall record of 61-36-8, including winning a program-record 16 games in 2019.
Credentials: Georgia assistant coach (2015-present), Missouri assistant coach (2013-14), Duke assistant coach (2011-12), Syracuse assistant coach (2007-11)
Eric's take: Ely has primarily worked with goalkeepers throughout her career and has a track record of success on several staffs. While at Missouri, Ely mentored McKenzie Sauerwein to set a school record in saves in 2013. Sauerwein recorded six shutouts in 2014, helping the Tigers advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament and a 12-7-3 record. While Ely has never been a head coach, she's the only female member of Blitz's coaching tree on this list.
Credentials: Arkansas State head coach (2015-present), Missouri assistant coach (2013-14), Florida Atlantic head coach (1999-2012), Barry University head coach (1995-98)
Eric's take: Another Blitz assistant who has made his own path as a head coach before and after his stints in Columbia. He has more head coaching experience than any other former Missouri coach on this list, but has yet to lead a team at the high Division I level. The Red Wolves finished the 2020-21 season with an 11-5-1 record, falling in the Sun Belt Conference championship game.
Credentials: Vanderbilt assistant coach (2015-present), Penn assistant coach (2011-14), Monmouth assistant coach (2009-10)
Eric's take: Pulling from another Southeastern Conference program is a viable route for Missouri, so why not look at the defending conference champions? Masuhr helped the Commodores to four straight NCAA Tournaments. The 2020 fall season ended with another SEC trophy for Vanderbilt, and it also won the SEC East in 2019 and the SEC regular-season title in 2018.
Credentials: Rice head coach (2019-present), LSU head coach (2005-18), Furman head coach (1994-2004)
Eric's take: One thing Missouri wouldn't lose transitioning from Blitz to Lee would be head-coaching experience. Winning in the SEC is something Lee has already done consistently, leading LSU to six NCAA Tournament appearances, four SEC West Division titles and 143 wins in 10 seasons with the Bayou Bengals. Having only taken the Owls' helm two years ago, Lee could be hesitant to quickly make another move.
Credentials: Saint Louis head coach (2013-present), Saint Louis assistant coach (2012), Northwestern assistant coach (2010-11), Harvard assistant coach (2007-09)
Eric's take: Shields has built a national power in the state of Missouri, so why not take arguably the most prominent collegiate job in the state? Shields likely stays loyal to the Billikens this offseason, however, having led them to a 15-1 record and the No. 15 overall seed in the forthcoming NCAA Tournament. SLU has been to three straight NCAA tourneys, and Shields has strong recruiting connections in the Show-Me State.
Credentials: Campbell head coach (2017-present), Campbell assistant coach (2014-16), Anderson University head coach (2011-13), Presbyterian assistant coach (2010), Mercer assistant coach (2008-09)
Eric's take: Azem has led Campbell to this season's NCAA Tournament after a Big South Conference championship. The Camels are unbeaten in their last eight matches dating back to March 17. Azem is a Campbell alumna herself, which could be a roadblock in bringing her to the Midwest. Missouri is a step up in prominence from her current job, where Azem has had winning records in three of four seasons at the helm.
Credentials: South Florida head coach (2007-present), Virginia Commonwealth head coach (2000-06), UMBC head coach (1998-99)
Eric's take: Schilte-Brown has plenty of Division I experience and has led the Bulls to a winning record in every year since 2012 and an NCAA Tournament appearance every year except one since 2014. Schilte-Brown's husband, Chris Brown, has coached with her at every step. Bringing the duo to Columbia could lead to similar success to another coaching couple Missouri fans are familiar with, former Tiger volleyball coaches Wayne and Susan Kreklow.
Credentials: Washington Spirit assistant coach (2018-present), United States women's national team first-choice goalkeeper (1994-2008)
Eric's take: There had to be an out-of-the-box candidate on this list. Scurry has never coached at the college level, but is one of the most famed American soccer players of all-time. Her name attached to Missouri's program would bring instant legitimacy nationwide, and while there's other USWNT greats in the Division I ranks, Navy head coach Carin Gabarra and UCLA head coach Amanda Cromwell, it's hard to see either leaving their current gig.
Contact Eric Blum at email@example.com. Follow @ByEricBlum on Twitter.
Follow Mizzou athletics with the Tribune’s Tiger Extra newsletter. Sign up at columbiatribune.com/tigerextra for stories, galleries and podcasts in your inbox every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.