Les Miles will be the coach at LSU in 2016, but there is a strong chance he will make some changes to his staff.
One of the biggest recent complaints from LSU fans has been a lack of ingenuity on offense. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron just completed the final year of a three-year contract, and there has been no word on his future.
LSU has finished seventh, ninth and seventh in the SEC in total offense in Cameron’s three years. The past two have featured inconsistent quarterback play and Leonard Fournette. The first year featured an NFL quarterback (Zach Mettenberger), two NFL running backs (Jeremy Hill and Alfred Blue) and two NFL stars at wideout (Odell Beckham, Jr., and Jarvis Landry).
The Tigers’ lack of offense, given the skill position talent, is inexcusable. Something has to change in 2016. LSU either needs a new offensive guru or new ideas from the current group.
If Miles needs a nudge to make a change, he could look to the top of the College Football Playoff rankings and see Clemson (Jeff Scott), Alabama (Lane Kiffin) and Oklahoma (Lincoln Riley) for recently-hired offensive coordinators who are having great success.
The depth chart at quarterback for 2016 doesn’t inspire confidence unless Brandon Harris improves, because LSU didn’t take a quarterback in the 2015 class and elite 2016 prospect Feleipe Franks decommitted last week before committing to Florida.
It’s possible a new offensive coordinator could develop Harris or entice a graduate transfer to join the Tigers and compete for the starting job. With that in mind, here’s a look at some potential candidates to be the next LSU offensive coordinator.
Western Kentucky coach Jeff Brohm
Brohm’s offensive coordinator, Tyson Helton, reportedly could be in the mix for the offensive coordinator job at UGA with new coach Kirby Smart. Helton would also be an interesting name for LSU, but why not take a swing at landing Brohm?
The former Louisville quarterback is one of the top young coaches in the country, and he could be a candidate for a move up the proverbial head-coaching ladder. But if he doesn’t land another head coaching gig, what if LSU offered him a lot of money to be Miles’ offensive coordinator with the idea that he could eventually take over?
That worked pretty well for Florida State with Jimbo Fisher, though he hadn’t been a head coach at that point. Brohm’s salary was 91st in the country among head coaches in 2015, and LSU could double that.
Former Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton
Many LSU fans are clamoring for a “modern” offense, like the spread or someone from the Air Raid coaching family. When those fans watch the SEC Championship game Saturday, they won’t see Alabama and Florida running spread-based offenses. Schools like Stanford and Michigan are also proving teams don’t need four wideouts on every play to succeed.
Hamilton has been an offensive coordinator at Stanford and in the NFL. He could update LSU’s offense without overhauling it, and his work with Andrew Luck could help lure future 5-star quarterbacks to Baton Rouge.
North Carolina assistant head coach for offense Seth Littrell
If LSU does want someone to overhaul the offense, there are plenty of excellent candidates. Littrell might not be available in a few days, because he’s reportedly the favorite to land the North Texas head coaching job. He’s worked for one of the Air Raid gurus, Mike Leach, at Texas Tech, and he tutored Nick Foles at Arizona before helping North Carolina become one of this season’s surprises.
TCU co-offensive coordinators Sonny Cumbie and Doug Meacham
Remember when TCU was a defense-first team that struggled after moving up in competition to the Big 12? That was before Gary Patterson brought Cumbie and Meacham to town. Trevone Boykin finished ninth in the Big 12 in passing efficiency in 2013 but blossomed into a bona fide star in two years working with these two Leach disciples.
Both were reported to be in the mix for the North Texas job as well, but LSU fans could probably review some game tape of Boykin from 2013 and get pretty excited about the idea of one of these guys working with Harris in 2016.
Miami Hurricanes offensive coordinator James Coley
Before fans begin to protest, Coley was not the problem for the Hurricanes. He helped Brad Kaaya have a great freshman season in 2014, worked as a graduate assistant at LSU in 2003-04 (anyone remember who the head coach was then?) and spent five years on the staff at Florida State before moving to Miami in 2013.
He’s a Miami native who has proven he can recruit in Florida. If the first five names on this list are unattainable, Coley could be a great fallback option.
Washington State inside receivers coach David Yost
SEC fans might recall Yost, if for nothing else than his long, bright blond hair. Yost was the offensive coordinator at Missouri during Gary Pinkel’s peak years. Remember when Missouri was one win from the national championship game with Chase Daniel at quarterback in 2007? That was Yost’s offense.
He left Missouri because he was burned out from trying to be the offensive coordinator, recruiting coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Remember when Missouri landed the No. 1 recruit in the country, Dorial Green-Beckham, in 2012? That was Yost’s doing. He was going to take time off from coaching but quickly caught on with Leach at Washington State.
Is he ready to be an offensive coordinator again? It wouldn’t hurt to find out.
Interim Memphis coach Darrell Dickey
Dickey does not fit the mold of young, up-and-coming whiz kid. He’s 55, but he also has a long track record of working for successful offenses. Most recently, he has been the co-offensive coordinator under Justin Fuente at Memphis with future 2016 first-round pick Paxton Lynch at quarterback. He spent a year at Mississippi State (1990) and three years at LSU (1991-93), and he has a ton of experience working and recruiting in Texas. Some fans might see someone who is too much like Cameron here, but his track record in college suggests otherwise.
Former California coach Jeff Tedford
Tedford spent 2015 as head coach of the B.C. Lions in the CFL but resigned Wednesday to “pursue other opportunities in college football.” After being Cal’s head coach from 2002-12 with an 82-57 record and a shared 2006 Pac-10 title, Tedford presumably wants another head coaching job. If there isn’t one out there for him, well, he was one of the top offensive minds in college football for years at Fresno State, Oregon and Cal.
Maybe he, like a few other on this list, are long shots, but this is LSU and it should be considered one of the top assistant coaching positions in the country.