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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Offensive coordinator guide

For the better part of this decade, Arizona football sported one of the weakest offensive attacks in the country. Over the course of the last three seasons, offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes transformed the attack into a consistent producer in the Pacific 10 Conference.

Dykes has been rewarded for his hard work by becoming the head coach at Louisiana Tech, but, while he enjoys life as a head honcho, he leaves a Wildcat offense that is suddenly at a crossroads.

There is a lot of pressure on head coach Mike Stoops to maintain the offensive prowess that Dykes installed during his reign. There hasn’t been much news on whom Stoops will hire since the remaining staff is focused on the final leg of the recruiting marathon, but he has made one move.

Just like he did at defensive coordinator, Stoops promoted offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh to co-offensive coordinator. Bedenbaugh has proven to be an extremely successful coach for Arizona, constantly churning out a productive offensive line despite consistent injuries. He spent last season as the running-game coordinator, so it’s safe to assume that Bedenbaugh will handle all things on the ground this season.

So, with Bedenbaugh in charge of the running game and likely having a strong hand in instillation, what’s left for the other co-coordinator, and what will he need to do in that role? Let’s take a look at some options.

Qualifications

Play calling: The new coach will likely be the guy calling plays, so he must have a philosophy that matches, or at least comes close to matching, Stoops’ philosophy. Arizona will stay with the spread offense, but the new offensive coordinator must maintain a rushing presence to play into Stoops’ defensively strong, ball-controlling, offensive team.

Quarterbacks coach: Dykes was in charge of grooming the quarterbacks, so the new coach will have to do the same. Whoever it is, he will be given a nice welcoming gift in budding star Nick Foles. That will make the life of a new coordinator a lot easier, but it also means that he will have to specialize in pocket passers rather than spread-option quarterbacks.

Recruiting influence: Dykes opened recruiting doors to Texas, a move which has undoubtedly been a driving factor in Arizona’s resurgence over the years. Stoops could look to the Texas or Oklahoma region again, or he could maintain that pipeline with current assistants and then open a new pipeline elsewhere by hiring a coach from somewhere like California or Florida.

An ideal candidate would be a quarterbacks coach with a strong recruiting background and ties to a prospect-rich state like the three mentioned above.

Early candidates

Dave NicholArizona outside receivers coach

Nichol makes a lot of sense. He’s been with Dykes for most of his career — he played receiver for Texas Tech and then coached there before coming to Arizona with Dykes — and he was the coach in the sideline relaying Dykes’ play calls and messages from up in the press box to the quarterback. He isn’t a headline grabber, but he’s the safest bet at this point.

Josh HeupelOklahoma quarterbacks coach

This would be a huge hire for Stoops. The ties are all there — he played at Oklahoma while Mike Stoops was a coach there and is currently working for Stoops’ brother Bob, he’s also the National Championship-winning quarterback in 2000 and Heisman trophy runner-up that year — and he’s an up-and-coming star in coaching circles. If Stoops can pry Heupel away from his brother by offering him a larger role, then it would go a long way in helping the Wildcats.

Mike Leach former Texas Tech head coach

Fans have been calling for it, but let’s be real — there is no chance this will happen. Leach would undoubtedly give Arizona instant media coverage, but it isn’t likely that Leach would go from one of the brightest head coaches in the country to a co-offensive coordinator gig. Plus, his basically pass-only offense wouldn’t work well with what Stoops wants from his offense. With all that being said, there’s no denying that this would be a fun hire.

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