10 New College Football Offensive Coordinators Under Most Pressure

    With all the new coaching changes, which new offensive coordinators are going to be under the most pressure? Some of the future superstars come from this group, but others will be blamed if they don’t rock right out of the gate.

    January 21, 2016


    With all the new coaching changes, which new offensive coordinators are going to be under the most pressure? Some of the future superstars come from this group, but others will be blamed if they don’t rock right out of the gate.


    E-mail Rich Cirminiello | Follow me … @RichCirminiello

    As the weathered axiom goes, you can’t fire the team. You can, however, make wholesale staff changes to redirect a program’s course. It happens at the end of every season, and not just with the men in charge.

    Somewhat lost in all of the hoopla surrounding Miami’s hiring of Mark Richt and the retirement of Frank Beamer are the arrivals of a new class of offensive coordinators from coast-to-coast sharing a familiar goal—start quickly and be an instigator of change.

    Each promoted coach has been tasked with adjusting to new personnel and responsibilities, and improving a challenging situation. Their predecessors have been canned, not retained, or promoted to another job. For the new coordinators, there’s a huge opportunity to bolster their resume and make the new boss look positively brilliant. Miss the mark, though, and there’ll be no place to hide at these high-profile positions.

    Top 10 New Offensive Coordinators Under Most Pressure

    10. Thomas Brown, Miami

    Last Gig: Running backs coach at Georgia
    He’s here because … new Cane coach Mark Richt feels he’s a rapid riser in the coaching ranks. Not yet 30, Brown is quickly climbing the ranks, tutoring Richt’s running backs a year ago. Richt plans to call plays in his debut at his alma mater, but Brown, who once played for his boss, is going to be impactful in numerous ways. He’ll not only mentor Joseph Yearby and Mark Walton, but also contribute as a talented recruiter in South Florida.

    9. Brad Cornelsen, Virginia Tech

    Last Gig: Co-coordinator at Memphis
    He’s here because … he was one of the key members of Justin Fuente’s staff with the Tigers over the past four seasons. While Fuente was justifiably getting most of the credit for Memphis’ rise from the ashes, Cornelsen was quietly directing a high-powered attack and developing a potential first-round quarterback, Paxton Lynch. Fuente has complete faith and comfort in his assistant. Plus, with the points-hungry Hokies, the young and anonymous Cornelsen is going to get an opportunity to earn a healthy dose of national exposure.

    8. Kennedy Polamalu, UCLA

    Last Gig: Running backs coach at UCLA
    He’s here because … the Bruins were ready for a staff shakeup on offense, with Polamalu serving as the new offensive centerpiece. He’s ready to install a far more multidimensional attack that supports the maturation of QB Josh Rosen. UCLA had become unmistakably stale under Noel Mazzone, who left for the same job at Texas A&M. Polamalu has spent the last six seasons in Los Angeles, first at USC and then with the Bruins, so he ensures continuity and familiarity, especially in the minds of local recruits.

    7. Josh Heupel, Missouri

    Last Gig: Coordinator at Utah State
    He’s here because … Mizzou is absolutely pining for an innovator who can light a spark beneath one of last year’s feeblest offenses. Despite being just 37, Heupel already has extensive big-game experience after serving on Bob Stoops’ Oklahoma staff for almost a decade. He inherits a dreadful Tiger offense that posted its lowest output since 1971. On the directive of new head coach Barry Odom, who witnessed the futility firsthand last fall, Heupel is going to move up-tempo and fast-paced as soon as he has the right personnel.

    6. Jim Chaney, Georgia

    Last Gig: Coordinator at Pittsburgh
    He’s here because … he brings a wealth of experience to a staff being helmed by a first-time head coach. Kirby Smart, a defensive guy, wanted someone he could turn loose without much supervision or oversight. In Chaney, the Bulldogs hired a flexible and seasoned coach who’s already been a coordinator at four different stops, including twice in the SEC with Tennessee and Arkansas. He’ll build his offense around the backs, but will need to develop the quarterbacks after Georgia ranked 104th nationally in passing offense.

    5. Noel Mazzone, Texas A&M

    Last Gig: Coordinator at UCLA
    He’s here because … he’s entering his second decade as a coordinator and play-caller. While Mazzone’s results have been mixed, he’s seen and done it all as the head of six different offenses since 1995. After the rocky tenure of Jake Spavital, Sumlin sought out Mazzone for the stability and the relative simplicity he’ll bring to College Station. Mazzone wants to play fast, yet employ a lean playbook that can be digested by the next generation of Aggie quarterbacks hoping to replace recent transfers Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray.

    4. Tee Martin, USC

    Last Gig: Wide receivers coach at USC
    He’s here because … he’d already done a great job with the Trojan receivers the past three seasons, and new head coach Clay Helton felt a promotion was in order. Martin has proven himself as an assistant and as a top-flight recruiter. Plus, he’s respected and well-liked by the holdovers, which will help the next couple of teams. However, this is a weighty, high-profile promotion for Martin, who’ll have plenty to prove in his debut season as a college offensive coordinator.

    3. Matt Lubick, Oregon

    Last Gig: Wide receivers coach at Oregon
    He’s here because … head coach Mark Helfrich was seeking continuity and a tireless successor after Scott Frost took the head gig at UCF. Lubick fit the job description swimmingly, having already succeeded in Eugene as a recruiter and a wide receivers coach the past three seasons. He’s very sharp, and he now knows the Duck personnel and offensive philosophy intimately well. However, his first coordinator assignment—ever—will be at Oregon, so he better adapt quickly at a school accustomed to fireworks.

    2. Joe Moorhead, Penn State

    Last Gig: Head coach at Fordham
    He’s here because … he’s extremely well-respected in coaching circles, both as a play-caller and as a developer of quarterbacks. And the Lions are in dire need of both skills after once again sputtering badly with the ball. James Franklin aced this hire at a most opportune time, as he enters his third season in Happy Valley. Sure, the depth chart won’t be loaded in 2016, and a new quarterback will be starting, but the attack will look distinctly more prepared and efficient now that Moorhead is in charge.

    1. Sterlin Gilbert, Texas

    Last Gig: Coordinator at Tulsa
    He’s here because …if someone doesn’t repair the offense in Austin, Charlie Strong will be jobless by mid-December. The third-year head coach is pinning his tenuous future on Gilbert, the 37-year-old offensive repairman who’s on his fourth makeover project in the past five years. Under Gilbert, the Horns will be balanced and up-tempo, though scheme will matter little if the new hire can’t get quarterbacks Tyrone Swoopes and Jerrod Heard to complement what should be a formidable ground game.

    MORE: Top 10 New Defensive Coordinators Under Most Pressure

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