This is a bit dated, but I still find it interesting because even now it seems to run counter to what we think is the common way of doing business these days.
Mike Gundy has had a handful of offensive coordinators the past few years who haven’t stayed long because they’ve been successful and poached for head coaching jobs. Larry Fedora went to Southern Miss, Dana Holgorsen went to WVU and Todd Monken went to Southern Miss two years after Fedora went to North Carolina.
The Monken-Fedora thing is kind of interesting for the the purpose of this exercise. Fedora was the Golden Eagles coach from 2008-11 and his replacement, Ellis Johnson, was a disaster in 2012 and didn’t get a second season. Southern Miss sort of remembered how much fun Fedora was and hired Monken, trusting many of the veteran offensive players could quickly right themselves when Monken re-introduced Fedora’s stylings. (Johnson was 0-12 and Monken was 1-11 last season, so…)
Gundy gave the offense to Gunter Brewer and co-coordinator Trooper Taylor (!) in 2008 and then Brewer in 2009 when Taylor went to Auburn. Things weren’t going well and Gundy wanted to modernize his offense. He knew about what was happening at Houstson — it was impossible to ignore it — and called upon Holgorsen.
The 2010 season was wildly successful, of course, and Oliver Luck was no less naive than Gundy and hired Holgorsen to be WVU’s coach. Gundy then hired Monken from the NFL. He stayed two years. Gundy then hired Mike Yurcich from Shippensburg University. This is his second season.
That’s odd, right? A line of renowned coordinators and then two outliers?
But the Cowboys kept on ticking, even with the changing of the guard at the top of the offense. The success was the same because the offense was the same, even as the coordinators kept changing.
And going back to the top, that grabbed my attention.
We have approximately 35, 45 players or so that have played for our offense each year, each season, and when we’ve lost a coordinator to become a head coach, I felt like it was an advantage to continue to run the offense and keep our terminology. So we would bring in one new coach or two new coaches, and they would learn our system instead of 35 or 40 players trying to learn a new terminology or a new system from the outside.
For that reason, we’ve had success. So we don’t see any reason to change. Our players have also been recruited there, and we told them that this was the offense we were going to run. We would be up tempo. We would throw the ball. We’d run play action. We’d run the football. We want to be consistent in our recruiting.
So the players that are currently on our team will continue to recruit. They’ve always been the best for us, and I know that’s somewhat broad, but those are reasons for staying with the system. It’s difficult to bring a young man in that’s made a commitment to our program for certain reasons, and then a couple years later things change. It can certainly affect him. So we try to stay as consistent as possible in that area.
Think about that for a second. Think about how much ink we gave Lane Kiffin before the opener. Think about how many times a guy is hired to run an offense or a defense because of his particular scheme. Gundy didn’t and doesn’t hire offensive coordinators for what they do. He hires them to continue doing what he does, and the logic is perfectly acceptable. The exception to this practice is also the pioneer and likely drinking a can of Red Bull right now.
Full disclosure: I knew the answer to that question. Sometimes you need an answer to a question. And the answer was this: What you’ll see on offense today is what Dana Holgorsen delivered to the Big 12 in 2010. The Cowboys acquired it in 2010 and have kept it since. WVU coveted it and secured it a year later.
Who will pay today?