posted on December 06, 2012 10:37
While Missouri's final push to signing day is just heating up, the Tigers' search for a new offensive coordinator is beginning as well. The timing is indicative of what Missouri needs in the next point-man for its offense:
It needs a fantastic recruiter.
Missouri has some ace recruiters on the staff, led by receivers coach Andy Hill, who is also a candidate for the offensive coordinator position. But, with the exception of co-offensive line coach Josh Henson, it lacks an ace closer with deep ties to the Deep South. After the move to the SEC, Gary Pinkel's staff immediately (and, perhaps regrettably) shifted some of their recruiting trails from Texas to Georgia and the Southeast.
This season, the payoff hasn't been great. Missouri landed high-profile quarterback Eddie Printz from Marietta, Ga., but that's only because UCLA backed off their verbal commitment in September. The Tigers also received an early pledge from Hampton, Ga., athlete Donovahn Jones, who is explosive and athletic, but is of the same under-the-radar mold that Missouri would sign from Texas.
Other than those two, the Southeast hasn't been very kind. Meanwhile, Missouri only has one commitment from Texas, although a few more Lone-Star state stars are scheduled to visit Columbia before signing day.
The 2012 offense was the bane of most Missouri fans' existence, and for good reason. It struggled for three quarters of the year, and when it finally found some semblance of explosiveness, it was too late to salvage the season. But this season showed that what Missouri needs more than a brilliant mind is a brilliant mouth.
The injuries showed Missouri had little to no depth, especially at offensive line. Missouri's presason starting 22 could have competed well in the SEC, but players 23-44 couldn't help much in extended duty. If the preseason starting offensive line was the same as the postseason starting offensive line, we're arguing about how Missouri got shafted in the bowl selection process, instead of the Tigers staying home for the holidays. If James Franklin stays healthy all season, Missouri is looking like a sleeper for the 2013 season.
Xs and Os mattered because Missouri's depth of talent was not there. When the starters are gone, it's about strategy, and Missouri didn't have it this year. Now that David Yost has resigned, Missouri needs to fix either one or the other. At this point, I'm inclined to believe that the most pressing need for the Tigers is a coffee-is-for-closers recruiter.
My suggestion won't be met with much excitement, I understand. But, Pinkel has already told recruits that he's not looking to change much with the offense -- it will remain a spread, perhaps with tweaks. If that's the case, don't waste money. Promote from within. Promote Hill or co-offensive line coach Josh Henson to become the offensive coordinator. Hill is universally well-liked by players, but perhaps Henson would be the better choice, as he wouldn't have to shirk many duties because Bruce Walker remains the other offensive line coach.
In Yost's absence, hire a young, energetic, connected coach to take over with the quarterbacks. His role, however, should almost entirely rest on the recruiting trail. In the SEC, the BEST recruiters are rarely coordinators. Trooper Taylor, for all the rumors, was a fantastic recruiter as a receivers coach, and he was almost single-handedly bringing top-ten classes to Auburn before Gene Chizik was fired.
(I'm not saying Missouri should hire Taylor. Far from it. But, his role at Auburn illustrates a point.)
The current top name for offensive coordinator, in the minds of many Missouri fans, is Tennessee's Jim Chaney. And, he's a great coach. But as a recruiter? He's ho-hum. That's what happens when you have to coordinate an offense. It takes you off the recruiting trail -- or, if it doesn't, it burns you out (see Yost, David).
Promoting Henson or Hill won't be popular outside the program. But coupling an in-house promotion with a connected, energetic closer of a coach in the SEC? That would solve Missouri's most immediate problem.
It's depth, not design, that Missouri lacks.