It’s been two weeks now since former NC State Offensive Line Coach Dwayne Ledford left to take on a similar role (but with a slight promotion) at Louisville. In that time, former Offensive Coordinator Eli Drinkwitz has left to go be the new head coach at Appalachian State, Dave Doeren has promoted Running Backs Coach Des Kitchings and Wide Receivers Coach George McDonald to Co-Offensive Coordinators, and Doeren has hired Kurt Roper as the new Quarterbacks Coach to take over part of Drinkwitz’s previous responsibilities.
As evidenced by the quick moves following Drinkwitz’s departure, it wouldn’t seem that Doeren is one to be ill-prepared for changes within his coaching staff. And given that Ledford was such a well-respected and high performing coach, certainly Doeren had to anticipate his moving on as one of the more likely among his assistants. So why then has it taken so long (relatively, of course) for a new OL Coach hire to be made? Seems pretty simple: Doeren is waiting on the next Wolfpack OL Coach to finish out his current team’s bowl game before an announcement is made. Well, either that or Doeren’s just gonna save some cash and wing it without an actual OL coach going forward (the current guy on the staff roster does look pretty ferocious).
This isn’t uncommon. Coaches develop bonds with players and fellow coaches they work with, and leaving a team prior to the full completion of a season can seem less than appealing.
So who then could it be? I’m glad you asked.
Counting Saturday’s games (because one can assume a 24-hour delay before an announcement), there are 58 teams with bowl games remaining (57, not counting NC State). A bunch of potential candidates from those 58 teams can be eliminated immediately based on either being OL Coaches for option offenses or being in positions with schools where they’re already getting paid more than Ledford was getting paid at State ($450k/year).
Removing those, you end up with 31 potential coaches. Six of these we previously discussed in our POAPS OL Coach Series (Part I, Part II, Part III); those coaches are Brad Bedell (Boise State), Brad Davis (Missouri), Daryl Agpalsa (Buffalo), Nick Tabacca (Wake Forest), Randy Clements (Houston), and Tim Polasek (Iowa). There are reports, though, that Clements may be on the move to Florida State with current Houston OC Kendall Briles.
Will one of those six end up with the gig? Maybe. But that still leaves us with 25 other candidates, so for the sake of completeness let’s take a look at a few of those.
In Part I of the POAPS OL Coach Series, I listed a bunch of coaches that I did an initial evaluation of (even though not all of them ended up in one of those three posts) based on the three-year stats that their OL units put up. Interestingly enough, there were six coaches that appeared on that initial evaluation list but weren’t covered in one of the three POAPS OLC posts, and whose current teams still have a bowl game remaining. Those guys are:
- Allen Rudolph (Arkansas State)
- Brian Callahan (Minnesota)
- Ron Crook (Cincinnati)
- Glen Elarbee (Central Florida)
- Ryan Silverfield (Memphis)
- Dale Williams (Purdue)
Elarbee and Silverfield have been named finalists for the 2018 Offensive Line Coach of the Year by FootballScoop.com; a very prestigious honor, and an indication of their coaching abilities. Silverfield, who has a nice blend of college and NFL experience, probably has the inside track at being promoted to Memphis’s OC position, so he might be a bit of a long shot. Elarbee coached OLs at Missouri, Arkansas State, Houston, and Middle Tennessee previously. He was the Co-OC at Arkansas State in 2014 and 2015.
Of the other four guys mentioned above, Rudolph spent three years coaching in the Canadian Football League (eh), but his entire college coaching career has been in the Louisiana-Mississippi-Alabama area. Callahan has had an up-and-down career, with recent success being found as PJ Fleck’s OL Coach at Western Michigan and Minnesota, but he has no ties to southeast region. Crook has some good experience under his belt working for David Shaw at Stanford and Dana Holgorsen at West Viginia before currently helping Luke Fickell turn around Cincinnati’s program. Williams has been successful everywhere he’s been, including Western Kentucky and Florida Atlantic. He also has ties to the state, having previously coached at Gardner-Webb.
There are two other coaches worth mentioning:
- Marcus Johnson (Mississippi State)
- Matt Moore (Troy)
Johnson is a young coach with only eight years of experience (and only three as an OL Coach), but seven of those years came at Duke under Dave Cutcliffe and the other year came in the SEC. Granted, his 2018 Mississippi State OL was a drop off from those units of his predecessor there, but this MSU team is currently #8 in the Sagarin Ratings and Johnson could be a young up-and-comer in the coaching ranks.
Moore is Troy’s OC in addition to being their OL Coach. While it would be odd to see an FBS OC leave for a position coach job with fewer responsibilities, Moore is currently being paid $195k/year, and with his success as an OC at Troy, that experience may be something that Doeren values highly enough to bring him on board and give him a substantial raise. Of course, if Moore waits out one more year with the Trojans, he’ll probably be a P5 OC when current Troy HC Neal Brown gets a bigger gig.
Oh, yeah... There is one more OL Coach out there who’s still getting his current group of guys ready for their bowl game, who has ties to the area, and coaches with the intensity of a thousand fires...
Build that Bridge, Dave.