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A Complete List of Florida Gators Offensive Coordinator Candidates PDF Print E-mail
Written by JB   
Wednesday, 18 December 2013

...And I'm guessing there's a better than 50% chance the ''real'' name isn't here. This is just a compilation of names I've seen other places, and few I found on my own based on arbitrary criteria. Because you can bet Will Muschamp is casting a wide net. So why shouldn't we?

I'll update this list as I gather more names.

The existing staff could also be shuffled and/or re-assigned, but Derek Lewis is really only a TE coach, Joker Phillips is really best suited as a WR coach, and Brian White also should probably not be coaching QBs or OL. I don't think this would have dragged on until now if White or Phillips were going to be promoted to OC, either. And for the record, I think this thing is so broken it needs new blood and new perspective and a fresh voice at the helm. I also think it's important for both new hires to be on the same page, and think that's most of the reason Tim Davis was let go, as well. The final requirement should be that the new hire has a proven record (could be a couple years or a decade or longer) of developing talent.

Remember, Dan Quinn was lauded as a great DC hire, for instance, because of his ability to teach fundamentals to DL. We need the offensive equivalent of that, because we have little problem getting highly rated prospects in-house, but the results are not seen on the field. I would eliminate Chris Leak as a candidate at this moment, for example, because one year of being a graduate assistant does not fill out the resume to the point that we need to fix this. It has been broken for so long that a more proven hire needs to be made.

I should also note that if the perception is that Muschamp is on his last year if the offense doesn't improve dramatically, that could drive some coaches away. Some may see it as more of a challenge. But it is a factor to weigh when considering who is a ''realistic'' candidate, because some guys won't want to leave a job and have to potentially look again next year. Some guys may be confident enough that they will just get another job easily enough even if that happened.

Finally, we'll dive into all the names, but first...

Relevant Statistics

4.8 - The University of Florida's offensive yards per play in 2013. Yuck. The truth is, since 2009-2008-2007, when the Gators were on a three-year run of 7.0-7.1-7.0 in this stat, the high point is 5.4, in 2011 with Charlie Weis. Urban Meyer limped out of town with 5.1 yards per play (lower than any Muschamp season, save injury-riddled 2013).

6.7 - Missouri's yards per play in 2013, good for SIXTH in the conference, but good enough to get them the Eastern Division title. Which should ALWAYS be a goal at UF.

0 - Approximate number of these lists (estimated) that had Charlie Weis and Frank Verducci (in late 2010) or Brent Pease and Tim Davis (in late 2011) on them.

1 - Number of Florida offensive coordinators since the HBC that Gator fans today will tell you they liked. His name is Dan Mullen, and he was running Urban Meyer's offense...

0 - Number of Florida offensive coordinators since the HBC that Gators fans have been happy with, prior to coaching the offense to a BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP AND THE QUARTERBACK TO A HEISMAN. Dan Mullen was widely criticized until these things occured. No offensive coordinator under Zook (Ed Zaunbrecher was eventually demoted, Larry Fedora didn't fare any better in fans' eyes) was ever embraced. So, yeah, this next hire better not have some deep-rooted need to be patted on the back by the average fan.

Names We've Already Told You About

Brian posted some names on our site earlier this month (click here).

Lane Kiffin, former USC, Tennessee, and Oakland Raiders HC - This seems to be just a creation of media/fans. Although Muschamp and Kiffin reportedly talked, it was likely about another candidate on this list, that recently worked for Muschamp. The Gainesville Sun's Robbie Andreu, at least, says to completely ignore this name.

Tony Franklin, Cal OC - At least has a connection to Muschamp and the SEC. Hasn't been on as many lists as some of these other names, but maybe that means he's more of a candidate than we realize. Unclear if he'd leave Cal after one year for a potential one-year gig in Gainesville.

Seth Littrell, Indiana OC - I have not heard this name as much, either, but personally, I like the idea, as it comes from the Bob Stoops-at-Oklahoma coaching tree. I have always liked the way that Stoops, as a defensive coach, has run some really talented offensive coaches through. Also the way he got it going and then has promoted a lot from within, but we are not there yet.

Phillip Montgomery, Baylor OC - With as hot as Art Briles name is (among fans, not sure ADs are rushing out to hire an up-and-coming 60+ year old, at least at jobs better than Baylor), Montgomery could do some good to break out from under his shadow. I still feel the move for him is to take a lower-level HC gig and prove himself that way, but hey, one can dream, right? One of only five FBS play-callers to have his teams exceed 6 yards per play the last 3 years. We'll refer to these guys as the Fantastic Five.

In addition, I began tweeting a few names out, during the season, based on what I thought Muschamp wanted in a coordinator (note: this was before the ''up-tempo'' offense buzz). Anyway, I don't think it completely rules out these other candidates, and even Pease was capable of running a more up-tempo thing, if that's what his head coach wants.

Eric Kiesau, most recently Washington OC - May be set to move with Steve Sarkisian to USC, or otherwise may not be looking to move. Mainly a name to watch because Alabama (and Nick Saban) recently hired a Washington OC (Nussmeier), and Muschamp would like to build this program in Alabama's image. Like a lot of these guys, a potential selling point is to improve their resume by showing they turned around our mess, and to succeed while not underneath an ''offensive'' head coach (our new OC would receive all the credit). Anyway, I don't think this one is likely, but Muschamp at the least should send out a lot of feelers. Has been more of a WR coach, so wouldn't appear to be a fit for QB or OL coach.

Matt Canada, NC State OC - A good candidate for someone to run what we formerly thought Muschamp wanted in an offense. Has had success in recent years at NIU and Wisconsin. Unclear if he'd make another move, and unclear (other than offensive style) what connection to this job he'd really have.

Mike Bloomgren, Stanford OC - I started talking him up during the Stanford/Oregon game. I think he perfectly represents the offense Muschamp has always wanted. How that blends with what he's told recruits he wants, now, I have no idea. He has Florida ties as he's from Tallahassee, and an FSU guy. Anyway, I think he could want to move to add experience that he is not a ''product of the system'', piggy-backing off the run of success they've had beginning with Harbaugh. I just don't think this is the move that he'd make. He is another OC/OL coach-type candidate, and most people seem to think we're looking for an OC/QB coach. Has experience in the NFL and in the SEC (Bama), though mostly in the NFL and at Stanford. Finally, I realize the Stanford OC is technically the ''Andrew Luck Director of Offense''... but F that.

Brian Schottenheimer, St. Louis Rams OC and mid-90s Gator QB - He played QB for the Gators before! That's the main qualification anyone needs, right? Anyway, the Rams (as someone who casually follows the NFL mainly via dominating a fantasy league) have been really schizophrenic this season. They've also lost their starting QB. So it's unclear if he'd be available for a position like this. Schottenheimer hasn't been the NFL's best coordinator, but he's had some success, and gotten sniffs of NFL head coaching candidacy. Maybe he can return to his alma mater (where he learned under Stephen Orr Spurrier, mind you) and turn this thing around enough to add another bullet to that head coaching resume. For what it's worth, I called him a ''wildcard'' on twitter over a month ago, and haven't heard his name come up much. I don't think he's a serious candidate, but what do we really know?

Herb Hand, Vanderbilt OL coach and College Football Twitter Celebrity - The twitter part of it doesn't really play into it. Although it'd be fun to have someone like that associated with our team. He's spent time working for good offenses, and considering the way he has to find talent that Vanderbilt can recruit, and then develop them into a line for successful teams, I think he's great. The main question is fit, only because I'm not sure he leaves to be an OL coach again, and I think Muschamp needs to hire someone who has more experience as an OC to be his next OC. If James Franklin moves to a higher-profile job, maybe Hand doesn't follow, and maybe he doesn't get a better job. Or maybe Muschamp would throw out a OL coach / Running Game Coordinator title. I think he's fantastic, and worthy of this list, but I don't know how he fits.

The Widely Discussed Candidates

Clay Helton, USC Interim-Interim-HC - Hey his dad (Kim Helton) played at Florida! It's unclear what other ties he has to the staff. I didn't check the timelines, but there's a chance he was in Houston the same time Brent Pease was backing up Warren Moon. OK, so that's not a positive. Anyway, if Lane Kiffin and other offensive-minded coaches seem to think he's an up-and-comer, then maybe we should be excited. I'd like one of these other guys that REALLY lit up the scoreboard, lately, but I don't know how likely they are to take the plunge and take our job at this point. USC appears to have gotten better once he took over, but how much was Coach O lightening the mood, and how much was it due to whatever differences there could be in his play-calling? Because news has broken that we should expect an OC hire ''after bowl season'', he seems likely with the interim-HC tag, as he'd probably want to get through his game. Even more recent twitter activity has suggested a hire could come next week (USC's bowl game is this Saturday...), so he seems to be the odds-on favorite at this point. For what it's worth, I like how he's portrayed in this article.

Blake Anderson, UNC OC - Uh, he works for Larry Fedora, who didn't exactly light up the scoreboard when he worked for Florida as OC? I'm actually not sure of the connection. But he has been good, so why not? How good? He's a member of the Fantastic Five (see Montgomery, above)!

Dave Christensen, former Wyoming HC, former Mizzou OC - Chase Daniel!!!11 I actually like this one a lot, to the point that it inspired me to look up all those QB coaches. Because Christensen would fit into the OC/OL category. He had good offenses at Wyoming, and at least a couple reports were that his resignation from that head coaching position was somewhat mutual, as Christensen thought he could land a big-time coordinator position. Well, this would qualify.

Mike Norvell, Arizona State OC - Seems like an awesome candidate, and he pretty much operates as HC/offense under a defensive coach already. However, it's unclear if he's really a candidate, or just someone the message boards and twitter discuss quite a bit. Arizona State media has begun releasing statements that Norvell isn't going anywhere, but I'm not sure if we should believe those.

Derek Dooley, Dallas Cowboys Asst., former Vols HC - A connection to Muschamp through Saban. Has never been a coordinator, actually. Also duplicates as a position coach the positions we already have a coach for.

Jake Spavital, Texas A&M co-OC - Might want to break from the ''product of the system'' label, but... not likely, IMO. He is young, and while he's worked with some good guys, he isn't proven enough for Muschamp to go out on a limb for, and he probably would rather have jumped to work with Muschamp if he was in his first year, not in his third year in a ''win-or-get-fired'' situation.

Noel Mazzone, UCLA OC - There was rumored contact between him and Muschamp. He is a member of the Fantastic Five! Would seem to be a great hire, but probably isn't likely.

Robert Anae, BYU OC - While certainly an up-tempo choice, I'm not really seeing the connection here. He seems to be a candidate primarily because of several Florida-centric media members tweeting that he is. But hey, maybe the fact no one is focusing on him makes him a more likely candidate.

Major Applewhite, former Texas co-OC and QB coach - It's unclear if Muschamp enjoyed anything about his time at Texas, considering some of the stories that came out after he left. At best he didn't have a great relationship with the offensive staff. But every other time this opening has come up, Applewhite's name has surfaced. And at the least, now, he may be looking for work. I'm not sure this really excites me, but I'm open to anyone until it's proven on the field that they, too, will be running a sub-par offense at Florida. One can either argue Muschamp passed on Applewhite twice, or Applewhite passed on Florida twice. Either way, Mack Brown's departure changes the equation, a little, and makes this one more likely.

Dave Schramm, Fresno State OC - Although he has experience in pro-style and spread offenses, the Gainesville Sun's Robbie Andreu nixed this idea, and everyone else seems to take his word. I'll do the same.

Mike Mularkey, former NFL OC - And a GATOR, mind you. While that's the only qualification some fans need... no.

Jedd Fisch, Jaguars OC - Also in the ''not happening'' category.

Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia HC - I'd love it, but not happening. He has a head coaching gig! Please stop.

Dan Mullen, Mississippi State HC - You guys, just stop.

Bobby Petrino, Western Kentucky HC - OMG, STOP.

James Coley, Miami OC - Muschamp probably was not impressed by his showing against us. We need a teacher, not a recruiter.

Dameyune Craig, Auburn Asst. - We don't need a recruiter. I still hold a grudge for his comments when he was the Auburn QB, even though we beat that idea out of him pretty well.

Good Play-Callers

Charlie Taafe, UCF OC - Hey, he's connected to the state of Florida! He is a member of the Fantastic Five! I don't know why, but I like that he has CFL experience. Maybe it's because it makes me think he'll think outside the box, but who knows if that's really true.

Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech HC - Not happening, because of the offense he runs (triple-option) and his current job. But he is the final member of the Fantastic Five! So he must be included in this list.

 

Names of Position Coaches

Because we technically need an offensive line coach, a quarterback coach, and an offensive coordinator (filled with 2 bodies).

Neil Callaway, Western Kentucky OL coach - The former UAB coach, UGA and Bama OC was one of the first OL names to surface. I like the idea of getting someone with a proven record of coaching technique to what will be a very young group at OL. Whether Callaway is that guy or not, and whether he fits with the other hire, remains to be seen. One potential connection: he coached with Clay Helton's father at Houston.

Joe Wickline, Oklahoma St OL coach, former UF OL coach - Gator fans are almost as obsessed with getting the band back together as USC Athletic Directors appear to be. At least one prominent Gator media member thinks there is no chance of this one.

James Cregg, former USC OT/TE coach - Followed Lane Kiffin around for a while, he's one of several USC assistants now looking for a job. Articles about him going to USC pumped him up, but at some point last year he became the ''much-maligned James Cregg'', so I am not sure how to take it. He was initially just the OL coach, but in February of 2013 he was assigned to the tackles and ends. I am not familiar enough to know if USC's program had some OL issues, and then if those issues were related to a lack of depth (scholarship restrictions) or this man's coaching. Anyway, as a guy currently looking for a job, he seems likely, and with some SEC experience, NFL experience, and ties to other candidates on this list (Clay Helton and Lane Kiffin, notably), he should at least be on this list.

Mike Summers, former USC OL coach and Running Game Coordinator - Also a former Joker Phillips staff member at Kentucky, and before that was a Bobby Petrino assistant going back to Louisville and the Atlanta Falcons. Has experience at multiple SEC schools (UK, TAMU, and Arkansas), the NFL (Falcons), and has been an offensive coordinator in the past (NIU, Oregon State). Ties to current Florida staff members and potential future additions really makes him a name to watch, here.

Kerwin Bell, JU Head Coach, Former Florida QB - I stuck him here, because honestly this is the only position he is remotely qualifed for. And I'm not sure if he has the proven record of coaching up QBs we need. It's apparent that a large portion of Gator fans think playing for us at one time is the only requisite to being the OC (and effectively, Muschamp needs a Head Coach of the Offense), but his record isn't impressive, and if he were any good, someone else would have hired him at some point already. Anyway, I'm fine with him on the staff if he is here as a QB coach. He's been DQ'ed by media members ''in the know'' for the OC position, so it feels better to stick him here.

Tom Elrod, Wake Forest QB Coach - He's from Winter Park, and Jim Grobe left so he probably doesn't have a job. I threw this one out, and made it up entirely. I started googling guys at staffs that were experiencing some turnover. It seems to be most likely that Muschamp will hire an OC/QB coach and an OL coach, but I wanted to at least have one out-there QB coach on my list, and maybe I'll be the lucky one who called it.

Mike Sanford, Stanford QBs, WRs, and Recruiting Coordinator - An interesting name to lump into a staff. Though Muschamp is once-bitten by hiring from the Boise State tree. I think all of the more likely scenarios are OC/QB coach hires, but still, we're running through some potential QB coaches.

Charlie Fisher, former Penn State QB coach - During the course of my compiling this list, he was let go by Bill O'Brien. The exact reason is unclear, and in a best-case way of looking at it: he's available. Anyway, Matt McGloin's improvement to eventual NFL starter (albeit by injury fill-in) alone has to make anyone respect the Bill O'Brien coaching tree, even if it's unclear how much Fisher contributed, and how much O'Brien himself did. Still, there's something to be said for being selected for the position by someone who knows offense as well as O'Brien. Except he was let go. Maybe it's because he's already secretly been hired to work for Florida, and Muschamp is waiting to announce an OC/OL coach at the same time as his new man, Charlie Fisher, QB coach. Let's move on.

George Whitfield, QB Guru - He's tutored Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, etc. to get them ready for the NFL draft. I like the idea that our QBs really need to be coached up on fundamentals, and if one of the OC/OL hires happens, something like this would be really interesting to me. Whitfield, I feel, is the most likely of a number of these guys to fit here, because he's young enough he may be interested in diverting his career path into being part of a coaching staff at a major college and/or eventually in the NFL. It's unclear to me at this point if anything could be worked out where he still did his other business to prepare guys for the draft. On the one hand, he could easily find time around the limited practice interaction college coaches get with their players, but on the other, Muschamp will also want him on the road recruiting.

Steve Clarkson, QB Guru - I found his name after starting to think about Whitfield. Worked with Matt Leinart, Matt Barkley, Jimmy Clausen, etc. Is older than Whitfield and probably more inclined to stay on his current career path.

Tom House, QB Guru - Found his name after researching above candidates. The least likely one of these independent QB coaches, IMO, because he's older and also works as a pitching coach. Worked with Terelle Pryor, Nolan Ryan, and a bunch of other guys. Anyway, I think the QB-tutor-turned-actual-college-coach is an interesting concept for here, because Driskel really needs to be developed in a way we haven't seen yet. There are probably more candidates in this vein, and maybe some of them make sense because of some connection to Muschamp or to our eventual offensive coordinator. I think this idea only works for a position coach, a play-caller needs to have been calling plays on a big stage fairly recently, in my opinion.

 

The Most Likely Choice

It's clear the guy who's getting the most buzz- as a realistic possibility- is Clay Helton. And I think this means that Mike Summers is the pick for OL coach, but that hasn't been covered as extensively. My ''dream'' pick (barring a Chip Kelly or Mark Helfrich-type Oregon candidate) would probably be Phillip Montgomery, with Herb Hand as OL coach. A more realistic choice, but my preference from this list, would be Mike Bloomgren or Dave Christensen, and a QB coach like George Whitfield, because I think it'd be interesting, tie-in somewhat with Muschamp's former love of pro-style, and accomplish what should be his goal in getting new eyes onto the offensive talent we've assembled.

The outlook with almost anyone on this list for next year is improvement. Just by assuming better health, some further development of the WRs by a second year under The Joker, and a healthy/improved Driskel. He may have been improved last year, we never got to see him really get off the ground. Anyway, I think even if we ran back Pease we should've been 6-6 next year, at the worst (having Bama rotate on hurts), with 9-3 type realistic upside (and 12-0 upside if you really squint through those orange and blue glasses, but anyone could see a scenario where they become a candidate for the playoff).

The realistic expectation is for the offense to become decent, not instantly great. And for some weapons to emerge. If that happens, with what should again be a nasty defense, they could compete to get to Atlanta. But at first I'll just take snapping a losing streak that at this point comes damn close to dating back to September!

 

 

Last Updated ( Thursday, 19 December 2013 )
 
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