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Offensive Coordinator Hot Board: Casting a wide net

(Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

(Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

After a solid five year run in Lexington, Eddie Gran and Darin Hinshaw were released of their duties by Mark Stoops today and that means some major changes are coming to the football program. For the fourth time in nine seasons under Stoops, UK will have a new offensive coordinator in 2021 and this feels like a major moment for the program.

Due to recent comments from the head coach and some of the results we’ve seen in the last two recruiting classes, it is clear that Stoops wants to get the pass game up and running. UK is fresh off consecutive seasons of having the worst pass offense in the SEC while football is transforming into more spread and space with multiple offenses trying to attack you vertically down the field. It is happening in the SEC and for UK to keep up they had to make a change.

Unlike the last three play-caller hires, there isn’t an obvious choice for the head football coach in Lexington. We all knew it would be Neal Brown when Stoops was first hired and Lincoln Riley was the heavy candidate after 2014. After Bob Stoops convinced him to come to Oklahoma, it wasn’t long before Shannon Dawson popped up, allowing Stoops to stick with Air Raid. A year later, it was clear that Eddie Gran was the top candidate and it did not take long to get him moved from Cincinnati to Lexington. This season there are a lot more unknowns.

After doing some digging, we’ve put together a list of candidates where Stoops could pull from. There are current offensive coordinators, former offensive coordinators, non play-callers, NFL assistants and high school connections on the list. It should be an interesting week or so as this search develops. This is a monumental hire and Kentucky has to find the right guy.

Tim Beck (NC State OC)

  • Went to high school with Stoops and worked with Vince Marrow at Nebraska
  • Called plays at Nebraska, Ohio State, Texas, NC State
  • Has been heavily micromanaged and forced to share play-calling duties
  • Heavy inside zone, RPO offense with outside zone mixed in
  • Makes $700,000 at NC State

Kevin Johns (Memphis OC)

  • Offensive coordinator title only at Indiana, Western Michigan, Texas Tech, Memphis
  • First season calling plays
  • Pat Fitzgerald and Kevin Wilson ties
  • Worked for Kliff Kingsbury at Texas Tech
  • Tempo-based offense
  • Modern pass game

Cale Gundy (Oklahoma OC)

  • Has never called plays
  • Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy’s brother
  • Assistant at Oklahoma since 1999
  • Served under Mike Leach, Mark Mangino, Kevin Wilson, Josh Heupel and Lincoln Riley in Norman
  • Strong recruiting reputation

James Coley (Texas A&M TE)

  • Worked with Stoops at Florida State
  • Called plays at Miami (2013-15) and Georgia (2019)
  • Solid recruiting reputation

Kevin Wilson (Ohio State OC)

  • Called plays at Oklahoma 2006-10
  • Indiana head coach 2011-16
  • Fired for player abuse
  • Doesn’t call plays at Ohio State

Mike Bobo (South Carolina OC)

  • UGA assistant 2001-14
  • UGA offensive coordinator 2007-14
  • Called plays for Mark Richt and Will Muschamp
  • Colorado State head coach 2015-19
  • Pro-style, under center
  • Proven recruiter

Jedd Fisch (Patriots QB)

  • Called plays at Michigan and UCLA from 2015-17
  • NFL coordinator experience
  • Worked for Sean McVay and Josh McDaniels the last three seasons in the NFL

Noel Mazzone (Arizona OC)

  • College football play-caller since 2010 (Arizona State, UCLA, Texas A&M, Arizona)
  • Worked with Eddie Gran at Ole Miss and Auburn

Pep Hamilton (Chargers QB)

  • Offensive coordinator for Jim Harbaugh at Stanford and Michigan
  • Colts offensive coordinator while Brad White was on staff
  • XFL head coach

Matt Canada (Steelers QB)

  • Offensive coordinator from 2007-18 (Indiana, Northern Illinois, Wisconsin, NC State, Pittsburgh, LSU, Maryland)
  • Interim head coach at Maryland in 2018
  • Unique run game under center that utilizes a heavy amount of motion
  • Fired by Ed Orgeron after just one season at LSU

Garrett Riley (SMU OC)

  • Lincoln Riley’s little brother
  • First-year offensive coordinator and QB coach for SMU’s top 15 pass offense
  • Previously coached running backs and served as offensive coordinator at Appalachian State
  • Considered a top candidate for the OC position at South Carolina

Mike Denbrock (Cincinnati OC)

  • Play-caller at Notre Dame under Brian Kelly and at Cincinnati under Luke Fickell
  • Run heavy approach
  • Has really developed Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder who will be an NFL Draft pick
  • Would not be a QB coach most likely

This is a very fluid situation that could see many ebbs and flows. We aren’t really sure who the top candidates will be for Stoops and there will most certainly be some surprise candidates that emerge. It’s a big hire that Kentucky really needs to nail and we’ll be here every step of the way to keep you updated at KSR.

Article written by Adam Luckett

Twitter: @AdamLuckettKSR

41 Comments for Offensive Coordinator Hot Board: Casting a wide net

  1. Dave C
    12:56 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

    Beck is likely going to be the Head Football Coach at South Carolina

    • nocode96
      12:58 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

      Didn’t they hire that Beamer guy?

    • ukflyguy
      1:10 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink


  2. Dave C
    1:00 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

    Did they? Well…if thats the case….Forget what I said. lol

  3. Hi Im Reality
    1:01 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

    Gimme a break with these names.

    • 2andToodleLoo
      3:47 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

      Nothing like 100% speculation to get the conversation started

  4. UKinIN
    1:02 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

    After the Shannon Dawson Experience Stoops should stay away from anyone that hasn’t called plays. Plus, how do you replace a veteran OC like Gran with a guy that’s never run his own offense?

  5. blueballs80
    1:12 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

    Get Garret Riley from SMU. He has a tempo offense and also has a run game as well

  6. BigBogee
    1:13 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink


    • damage_control
      2:13 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

      More like Gumby- never called plays so he can F off as far as I’m concerned

  7. ukflyguy
    1:14 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

    Whomever they hire its needs to be a balanced offense with RPO. Those are the most successful offenses. I just hope we don’t go pure Air Raid. This is about beating Georgia and Florida and the Air Raid won’t get it done.

    • ArmyCatFan
      1:20 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

      I agree man. I secretly made a list this past week discussing with a friend. Denbrock, Cooley and Kevin John’s were all on that list. Tim Beck I have not heard before now but would make some sense. I can’t help but also wonder if he will consider offering the job to his boy Beliema. Would suit the O line and offense expertise needed and could allow play calling for one of these other guys knowing he’d be preparing to take another job in a couple years then promote within at transition. ?????

    • TBW3011
      2:46 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

      Stoops isn’t going Air Raid. Lol. Guy hates the forward pass.

    • wildcatdon
      4:13 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

      Riley or Bobo would be the way to go.

  8. dcforuk
    1:22 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

    Bob Stoops’ name was missing

  9. mothandras
    1:27 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

    Joker Phillips anyone?!?

  10. gacat123
    1:29 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

    None of these get me excited

    • ArmyCatFan
      1:35 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

      Denbrock should for sure. That’d be a home run hire.

    • wildcatdon
      2:00 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

      Bono or Riley .

    • FinnaGoHAM
      3:43 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

      Bono? The guy from U2? ?

    • chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door
      7:16 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

      Sonny Bono

  11. bigbowdennation
    1:35 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

    I think we should go after Mike bobo. He’s produced nfl caliber receivers at CSU, so there’s no reason he shouldn’t be able to do it here (unless stoops really is calling the shots behind the scenes)

  12. eb4ukcats
    1:38 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

    If, that is our only options, then I would take Gundy.

  13. Cmart0907
    1:41 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

    Who is the QB coach for Alabama?? Bama QBs have been on fire. Cheap smart hire under Saban.

    • damage_control
      2:14 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

      Yea let’s go get Bama’s QB coach lol. So stupid it has to be satire. Bravo

    • BigBogee
      2:49 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

      So your slamming me and this guy but you aren’t offering a suggestion. Do you think a established and successful OC from a good team will come here? Your the stupid one. We have to pick a small school established OC or get a big time scholl assistant. That common sense which you obviously don’t have.

    • chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door
      10:14 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

      I believe that would be Sarkisian, so it would be a dead end.

  14. VinDatuk
    2:12 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

    Please for the love of God do not go anywhere near Tim Beck. He makes Gran look like Bill Walsh.

  15. Kentucky Packrat
    2:38 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

    The question for any candidate: was the problem Eddie Gran or was the problem Mark Stoops? If the problem is Eddie Gran, then take the job and all is good. If the problem is Mark Stoops, then Stoops won’t be able to fix the problem with a new OC.

    Either way, you have to have an OC who can call his own plays. Stoops can’t call the offense.

  16. CJKAssassin123
    2:38 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

    Vince is probably going to get promoted to OC and they are going to get a big name QB guru to me the Passing game Coordinator/PC.

  17. CJKAssassin123
    2:39 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

    I meant to say **to be** not **to me**.

  18. bbn606
    2:39 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

    Looking at that list, I’m saying it will be Beck or Riley.

    • CJKAssassin123
      2:44 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

      If Kentucky hires anyone off of that list it’s likely going to be either James Coley. I want John’s from Memphis.

    • CJKAssassin123
      2:48 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

      Sorry I meant to say have UK work to hire anybody off of the list from this article it would most likely be James Coley. However I have a strong sneaky suspicion that Vince Meniord is going to get promoted to OC& Senior Recruiting Coordinator

    • Keets
      2:57 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

      No chance Marrow gets the OC title. If Stoops wants to infuriate the fan base and hold a flame to his own seat, that’s the move he’d make.

    • chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door
      11:13 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

      I agree Keets.

  19. blueballs80
    3:33 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

    Not sold on Beck. He was demoted from his OC position in texas.

  20. jmcatt
    3:38 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

    Stoops is looking at several make or break coaching hires; OC,QB,OL and Special teams.

    He has been on the job 8 years and getting his 4th OC, if the offense next season does not improve than Stoops seat starts to get very warm as the issues will obviously be on him and not his previous OC’s.

    Stoops needs to be less stubborn and let his coaches coach and do what they were hired to do.

    • chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door
      10:15 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

      I can’t disagree.

  21. east-ky-boy
    5:45 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

    Whether or not the guy is on this list, stoops needs to make sure he’s THE guy. The fan base has been heated over the last 2 OC’s. He needs to be well balanced in his approach by mixing passes and runs, needs to be a great recruiter and lastly (my opinion) never run the wildcat lol

  22. Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
    7:03 pm December 6, 2020 Permalink

    Why would anyone on this list risk being fired in a few years along with Stoops and being made to look like such a horrible oc that no one will hire him.