First off, congratulations to Coach Marcus Arroyo on becoming the new head coach of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Rebels. Coach Arroyo has been an important contributor to Oregon’s resurgence, and his place among FBS head coaches has truly been earned. Whoever becomes the Oregon Ducks’ new offensive coordinator will undoubtedly benefit from the solid foundation that Coach Arroyo has helped build.
My five candidates to become the next Ducks’ OC have the experience and ability to stack the hard-nosed ground game that Coach Mario Cristobal covets with another layer of creativity. Each of the candidates is innovative in their scheme.
1. Rich Rodriguez
Rich Rod is not being retained as the OC of the Ole Miss Rebels after the recent change at head coach. This could be the perfect time to bring him back to the West, an area he’s familiar with after coaching at the University of Arizona from 2012 to 2017.
In Oregon, Chip Kelly is the coach who comes to mind when the term “spread option” is mentioned, but Coach Rodriguez is where that all started. His story about how he accidentally stumbled upon the zone read is football gold. A lot of coaches talk about tailoring their offense to their QB, but few have done so as successfully as Coach Rodriguez. His creativity and innovation could help propel Oregon further towards the ultimate goal of a national championship.
The catch here is that Rodriguez might be a package deal with Coach Calvin Magee, with whom Rodriguez has worked since 2005. Coach Magee was Rodriguez’s OC at West Virginia, Michigan and Arizona. They most recently served together as co-OCs for Ole Miss.
2. Zak Hill
Coach Hill is currently the offensive coordinator for the Boise State Broncos. He employs a very physical offense that presents a multitude of looks. Before becoming the Broncos’ OC, Coach Hill helped engineer one of the best offenses at the FCS level for the Eastern Washington Eagles.
Not only did Coach Hill have a hand in one of the FCS’s most dominant offenses, but he also coached some its best quarterbacks. One of those quarterbacks happens to be Oregon fan-favorite Vernon Adams. Hill’s ability to coach QBs and coordinate an offense at a very high level makes him an intriguing possibility for the Ducks. Could Coach Cristobal strike gold with a Boise State coordinator two years in a row?
3. Joe Brady
Coach Brady is definitely the coaching darling of college football this season, and I would be remiss if I did not put him on this list. The LSU Tigers’ offense instantly improved when they lured Coach Brady away from the New Orleans Saints to serve as their passing game coordinator, and the progression of Heisman-favorite Joe Burrow has been one of the most impressive stories of the year.
Coach Brady may be attracted to Eugene based on the prospect of being the sole OC and play-caller for a program that is regaining its nationally elite status. He has not been a full time play-caller, but the word is that LSU has entrusted him to call their third down and redzone plays. If that’s correct, they have trusted his judgement in very important situations, and it has paid off for them in the form of the number-one seed in this year’s College Football Playoffs. Hill is a rising star in the coaching ranks, and the Ducks would make a big splash by pulling him away from the Tigers.
4. Cale Gundy
Coach Gundy is currently the offensive coordinator for the Oklahoma Sooners. The Sooners have finished as a top-five offense in each of Coach Gundy’s three seasons. In name, Coach Gundy’s offense is an air raid system, but in practice it utilizes an array of physical, gap-scheme runs, the kind of runs that are right up Coach Cristobal’s alley.
It’s widely known that the Oklahama offense is Coach Lincoln Riley’s and that Coach Riley calls the plays on game day. I do not believe this means Coach Gundy cannot be an effective play-caller; if I did, he wouldn’t be on this list. Coach Gundy is tasked with a huge role in helping devise game plans for opponents. When Coach Scott Frost was named OC at Oregon he had never called plays, but he was trusted to carry on the work of the offensive minds he worked under. The same role could be extended to Coach Gundy.
5. Chip Long
Coach Long is the offensive coordinator for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, where he orchestrated a top-15 offense this past season. Before his two-year stint for the Irish, he served as Coach Mike Norvell’s OC at Memphis and, prior to that, as an assistant for the Arizona State Sun Devils. As a former Coach Norvell assistant, Long branches off from the same coaching tree that produced Coach Chad Morris, recently snatched up by Gus Malzahn to be the Auburn Tigers’ OC.
Coach Long’s offense is an up-tempo scheme based heavily on a power run game. This is an offensive scheme that meshes well with the team identity Coach Cristobal has built in Eugene. As a young coordinator, Coach Long has proven himself at both of his stops. If he can be lured from a prestigious program like Notre Dame, he would certainly be a great hire.
These are my five possible candidates to replace Coach Arroyo as the new Oregon Ducks offensive coordinator. Like anyone on this list? Have an option of your own?
Coach Eric Boles
Newark, OhioTop Photo by Kevin Cline
Phil Anderson, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is a trial lawyer in Bend Oregon.
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