More Than a Dozen Offensive Coordinator Candidates for Texas Tech
With David Yost officially out at Texas Tech, the search for a new offensive coordinator is officially underway.
Head coach Matt Wells will speak to the media about his plan on signing day, Wednesday, December 16th, but for now, all fans have to go on is Texas Tech Athletics Director Kirby Hocutt saying he wants to get back to the aggressive, throw-it-down-the-field offense that Texas Tech is known for.
There are obviously some names that jump right off the page and will get to those, but I want to dispel one before we start the list: Art Briles. There's a less than zero percent chance that Wells would make the decision to bring Briles onto the Texas Tech coaching staff as the offensive coordinator. Leave his baggage at the door; Wells wouldn't invite the clown show that the scenario would create into his program.
I get that he wants to win and Briles certainly has the aggressive offense they're looking for, but would Wells really feel in charge if Briles came in and the Red Raiders started winning? Would the power structure shift and make Wells expendable? It just doesn't make logical sense that Wells would hire Briles.
If Briles does end up as the OC at Texas Tech, I don't think Wells made the hire, and that creates a brand new set of problems for the head coach and his hold on the program.
Alright, onto the myriad of candidates broken into a few different groups:
Group 1: The Texas Tech Guys
If there is a candidate out there to reunite the fanbase a la Kliff Kingsbury in 2013, I guess that guy is Harrell. Looking at his offense at North Texas, he resurrected an impotent offense from 15 points per game to 35 in just two seasons. In his current role at USC, Harrell boosted production from 26 points per game to 33 in a single season, all while playing multiple quarterbacks. His pandemic-riddled Pac 12 2020 season has seen the Trojans score 35 points per game.
Here's the thing: I don't think Graham Harrell would take the Texas Tech offensive coordinator job. Don't rule out an eventual return to Lubbock, though.
I'm only putting Cumbie on this list so I don't get fined.
Since this is my list, I hesitated to even include Kittley. I think he's a great coach, but he's only been calling plays for 16 games. The Houston Baptist offense hasn't looked incredible, the Texas Tech game notwithstanding.
I think the votes of confidence from both Patrick Mahomes and Kliff Kingsbury should raise eyebrows in a good way, but as a fan of Kittley, I'd rather him ply his trade at Western Kentucky instead of being thrown into the situation at Texas Tech.
Is Garrett Riley really a Texas Tech guy? Not in the sense that the first three names are. He hasn't been a coordinator or a star player for the Red Raiders, but he did start his career in Lubbock before transferring out. His brother is Lincoln Riley. Does that help?
This is Riley's first season at SMU and first as an offensive coordinator, but he's been coaching at the D1 level since 2013 with stints at ECU, Kansas, Appalachian State and currently SMU. Riley and SMU recruited Behren Morton heavily. It's incredibly short-sighted to hire an offensive coordinator for a single recruit, but that's where we are with Texas Tech football.
I have E-Mo on the list because he's been prevalent on other lists, but he's another guy I just don't see returning to Lubbock right now. He's warming up for his FCS fall season, anyway.
Honorable mention for Texas Tech-related candidates: Seth Doege, Emmett Jones
Group 2: The Briles Tree
Briles is making seven-figures at Arkansas, so I don't think he's walking away without an equal check, but his resume speaks for itself. Does it reek of hypocrisy that I decried Art Briles 600 words ago, and now I'm giving a vote of confidence to his son? Maybe, but this Briles is 30-ish years younger and won't be in NCAA hearings for the next two weeks.
Obviously, the younger Briles cut his teeth at Baylor, but since then has been making a name for himself in various stops around the country. He's had four different jobs in the previous four seasons. In 2017, he went to Florida Atlantic to coach under Lane Kiffin. Their styles meshed perfectly, leading FAU to a massive improvement: 40 points per game with 4,000 yards rushing, 3,000 yards passing with more than 12 yards per completion. In 2018, he took Houston from 28 points per game in the prior year to 44 points per game. In 2019, his Florida State offense outscored the 2018 predecessor by 8 points.
His current job at Arkansas has been his toughest yet, but again, after two straight seasons of scoring 21 points per game without Briles, he comes in and leads them to 25 points per game after installing the offense in a pandemic-riddled offseason.
This is my personal favorite. In 2017, Lebby led the Southeastern University offense to 55 points per game. He used a heavy rushing attack and supplemented it with a vertical passing game, much like Baylor when they were at the top of the Big 12 mountain. Coincidentally, Lebby was at Baylor from 2008-2016 working his way up through the program.
In 2018 and 2019, he worked with Josh Heupel at UCF where the offense rolled on, scoring 40-plus points per game. The running game spiked during Lebby's tenure. This past season, Lebby has been at Ole Miss coaching under Lane Kiffin as the offensive coordinator.
Could you pry him away from Ole Miss? I don't think so. He's making $100,000 more a year than Yost was, and the SEC West is football Mecca, right? Lebby is a Big 12 guy though, having gone to Oklahoma and being a student assistant from 2002-2006 after an injury derailed his playing career.
If you can't afford the first two, how about Kent State's offensive coordinator? I bet you can pull him. In his first year as offensive coordinator at Kent State, Sowder saw an increase of 11 points per game from the previous season and a massive jump of 108.4 yards per game. In 2020, the MAC school played four games and scored 27, 62 and 69 in three wins. They scored 41 in their only loss.
There's more. Sowder is a Shallowater native and played at Baylor before getting into coaching. He's made his way through smaller schools beyond being a student assistant for Baylor and a quality control coach with Texas in 2016. In 2017, he was the OC at San Jose State. He's also held jobs at Bowling Green and Eastern Illinois with Dino Babers.
Group 3: The Others
This is an intriguing name. Denbrock. Not only is it fun to say, but he's also stretched his success from nine different universities in the last 30 years. Currently, Denbrock is the OC at Cincinnati and was a long time assistant at Notre Dame before that. This is the kind of OC I wish Kliff Kingsbury had hired back in 2013. Maybe he'd provide the same kind of know-how to the current staff.
Take all the shine of Cincinnati's offense, but say it's not the old guy that's responsible and take the passing game coordinator. It's a thin resume, and Guidugli has zero ties to Texas or the Big 12. Maybe that doesn't matter, but it certainly puts him behind in recruiting, and this isn't a situation where you want to start from behind.
This is another name I'm adding here only because it's a name I've seen linked to the job. McGiven was Matt Wells' first offensive coordinator at Utah State. Since then, McGiven has most notably been at Oregon State and San Jose State. No thank you.
I'm just kicking tires here. There's a pedigree; he's Jim's son and he's at Michigan. He's never been an offensive coordinator before, but he's a Harbaugh. Just thinking out-loud.
Charlie Weiss, Jr.
Another name people might scoff at, but much more serious as a candidate compared to Harbaugh's offspring. The elder Weiss wasn't great as a head coach, but his resume as an OC is undeniable at the NFL and collegiate levels. The younger Weiss might only be sniffing 30, but's already worked with the Patriots, Alabama, FAU and is currently the OC at South Florida with Jeff Scott.
That's rubbing your shoulders with a lot of quality coaches. Surely some of it rubbed off.
OK. This is the last one. Hartline played WR at Ohio State and in the NFL. He's currently the WR coach at Ohio State and is one of the best recruiters in the country.
Sure, it could be that Hartline is just using his Ohio connections to his favor, but I have a feeling that he's more than that. It's only a matter of time before he is elevated to a coordinator role somewhere, might as well be in Lubbock. The playcalling and game-planning skill is unknown, but the recruiting benefits would be incredible. It'd be like Texas Tech hiring Wes Welker as the OC.
Wait a second...new final name.
Why not? He could recruit. He's been around some of the best football minds in the history of football minds. Nobody hates Wes Welker.
Honorable Mentions: Nick Sheridan Indiana OC, A Clemson underling like JP Losman or Cam Aiken.
12 Random Masked Rider Facts