247Sports is pleased to announce five finalists for the 2013 247Sports Offensive Coordinator of the Year Award, which will be given annually to the nation’s best. It was certainly a year for explosiveness as scoring and yards were way up across college football, even in leagues that traditionally have deep defensive talent like the Southeastern Conference and Big Ten.
Clemson’s Chad Morris, Georgia’s Mike Bobo, Auburn’s Rhett Lashlee, Ohio State’s Tom Herman and Fresno State’s Dave Schramm are finalists for the 2013 247Sports Offensive Coordinator of the Year Award.
Fans, boosters, and recruits love offense (and thus athletics directors do, too, because that equals enthusiasm, which equals donations and ticket sale increases). It’s sexy and exciting. When coveted head coaching jobs open, the tendency is for at least one or two of these offensive innovators to be on the short list (though there’s no correlation that former offensive or defensive coordinators are any more successful as head coaches). So these are the folks that could be leading your football program in the near future.
Among the five finalists are two from the SEC (which experienced a offensive bonanza by that league’s standards this season) and one each from the Atlantic Coast and Big Ten conferences. There’s also a rising star from the Mountain West. There were plenty of candidates this season, so this list did not come easy.
The 2013 247Sports Offensive Coordinator of the Year Award will be announced Thursday, along with the 2013 247Sports Defensive Coordinator of the Year Award. The 247Sports National Recruiter of the Year will be announced Feb. 5, which is National Signing Day for college football.
Mike Bobo, Georgia
Georgia suffered tons of personnel losses because of injury this season, including star running back Todd Gurley for a spell, fellow running back Keith Marshall for the season at mid-year, receiver Malcolm Mitchell in the preseason and then some, including star senior quarterback Aaron Murray in the second-to-last game of the season to a torn ACL. Still, the Bulldogs finished 8-4, rallied to beat Georgia Tech, 41-34, in the season finale without Murray (after being behind 17-0 early- and the Jackets had a top 20-ranked defense this season) and finished No. 17 nationally in total offense, averaging 489.8 points per game. When fully healthy, this was one of the best offenses in college football - as South Carolina and LSU - both top 10 opponents - found out in September - surrendering 41 and 44 points and more than 500 yards to the Dawgs. The resolve in Bobo’s unit and his ability to orchestrate a comeback (Tech and also they were behind 37-17 to Auburn with 12:39 to play, rallied to take the lead 38-37 before falling, 43-38 on the miracle 75-yard touchdown catch by Ricardo Louis) cemented his status as one of the top offensive minds in college football.
Tom Herman, Ohio State
Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer knew what he was doing when he hired Herman away from Iowa State to run his offense in Columbus. Herman coordinated a unit that averaged 518.5 yards per game, good for No. 7 nationally, and was fourth in scoring offense at 46.3 points per game. Star quarterback Braxton Miller was banged up and missed time as did running back Carlos Hyde. Ohio State finished 11-1 and will play in the Orange Bowl this season, but since Herman and Meyer’s arrival, the Buckeyes have won 24 of 25 games. Meyer noted when he hired the 38-year-old that he felt he was “one of the brightest young offensive minds” in college football. Based on his two-year resume of work, particularly this season, Meyer was spot on. Even in a 34-24 loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game, the Buckeyes managed 374 yards of total offense, the second-highest total that the nation’s top-ranked defense gave up this season. Miller was a first-team All-Big Ten selection this season, one of two Buckeyes to make the team.
Rhett Lashlee, Auburn
There is little doubt that Auburn head coach Gus Malzhan is the one running the Tigers‘ offense, but Lashlee is heavily involved and shares the play-calling duties with the head coach. The Tigers will play for the second BCS National Championship in four seasons on Jan. 6 against Florida State in Pasadena, Calif., won the SEC Championship and completed (win or lose against the Noles) the best one-season turnaround in college football history (Auburn was 3-9 and winless in the SEC a season ago). In large part, this was due to an offense that lead the nation in rushing at 335.7 yards-per-game, set a school record for rushing touchdowns in a season with 45 and piled up 677 yards of offense (school record vs. SEC competition) in a 59-42 win against Missouri in the SEC Championship Game. Additionally, Auburn ranked No. 11 nationally in total offense and running back Tre Mason was a Heisman Trophy finalist and the SEC Offensive Player of the Year. Lashlee is an Arkansas graduate who was a record-breaking high school quarterback at Shiloh Christian in Springdale, Ark., and was a back-up quarterback for the Razorbacks from 2002-04.
Chad Morris, Clemson
Morris is one of the highest-paid assistants in college football ($1.3 million per year annually) and under his direction, the Tigers offense has set numerous school records. This season, while posting a 10-2 mark, which will include an Orange Bowl against Ohio State, Clemson finished No. 13 nationally in total offense, averaging 502 yards per game and No. 11 in scoring offense, averaging 40.2 points per game. Quarterback Tajh Boyd has nine of the top single-game passing performances in Tigers‘ history under the direction of Morris. Since his arrival in 2011, Clemson is 31-8 and won the program’s first ACC Championship since 1991 in 2011. Had there been more FBS-level openings this offseason, Morris‘ name surely would have been hot. He was in the mix at North Carolina State and Texas Tech (he’s a native of the Lone Star State) last offseason.
Dave Schramm, Fresno State
The Bulldogs had one of the most explosive offenses in the country under the direction of Schramm, a rising star among offensive coordinators, averaging 572.4 yards per game (No. 3 nationally in total offense) and 45.3 points per game (No. 5 nationally in scoring offense). Quarterback Derek Carr (younger brother of David Carr) led the nation in passing yards with 4,866 yards and has developed into a future pro under the direction of Schramm and his staff. Schramm was hired prior to 2012 to implement a fast-paced spread attack for head coach Tim DeRuyter, who has turned Fresno around dramatically in two seasons, but has a defensive background. Schramm also is well-regarded as a recruiter and should be an assistant coach that BCS-level programs with offensive coordinator openings have on their short list.
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