The revolving door continues.
Come the fall of 2016, the Boise State Broncos will find themselves in what is becoming an all-too-familiar position: breaking in a new offensive coordinator.
Say good-bye to Eli Drinkwitz and his one-year stay as the Broncos offensive coordinator. Say hello to–well, that part is still to be determined.
On Monday it was announced that Drinkwitz had accepted an offer to be the offensive coordinator with the North Carolina State Wolfpack. N.C. State finished last season with a record of 7-6 and had an offense that averaged 33.7 points per game.
2016 could bring the Broncos their fifth offensive coordinator since current head coach Bryan Harsin left after the 2010 season. Over that span, only Robert Prince (2012, ’13) held the position of offensive coordinator for more than one season.
Normally, one could look at that amount of turnover and say, “What is going on with the Boise State program? Does no one want to coach the offense here?”
In fact, the answer is quite the opposite.
Stability at that position would be nice, but the Broncos constantly having to replace the offensive coordinator, in this case, is not a bad thing. The revolving door of offensive coordinators shows that Boise State has a solid system and program in place. A system that allows for an almost seamless transition when it comes to finding a replacement.
Discounting the drop-off of in points per game between Brent Pease’s last season (2011) to Prince’s first (44.2 to 30.2), the Broncos still score points in bunches. (And even that drop-off can be attributed to a certain man with the last name of Moore graduating.)
Offensive coordinators tend to rise up the ranks quicker when it comes to accepting head coaching positions. Moving to schools of the Power Conference variety to be an offensive coordinator speeds up that process. It worked for Harsin. It didn’t work out for Pease and for Mike Sanford, it is still up in there, though Notre Dame put up quite the offensive display this year. And for Prince, well, he wasn’t retained when Chris Petersen moved to Washington but landed on his feet as the receivers coach for the Detroit Lions.
Another factor can be that Harsin, and Petersen before him, appeared to be staying at Boise State for the long haul. If Pease, Sanford, and Drinkwitz had any designs on becoming a head coach, they knew there was a good chance that path was blocked at Boise State. Better to take a job as an offensive coordinator at a Power Five school and hope it was a quicker route to a head coaching position.
One can argue any of these coordinators could have done the same if they stuck it out at Boise State. Being in the upper tier of the Group of Five schools should allow for that to happen if a long enough tenure is put in. Sometimes, though, it is best to strike while the iron is hot, and if a school from a Power Five conference comes a calling, you answer.
Many fans have seem to taken the news of Drinkwitz’s exit rather well. They looked at him as a disappointment in his one season as offensive coordinator at Boise State.
There was some questionable playing calling in certain situations. Boise State converted only 41.2% of its third-down attempts and lost four games this past season.
Drinkwitz was also in charge of a unit that averaged 39.1 points and over 500 yards of total offense per game. He did so with a freshman quarterback, sophomore running back, and an underperforming offensive line. Drinkwitz deserves some credit and who knows what would have happened with a season under his belt. Now, he gets the true test as he gets to face teams like Florida State and Clemson.
Fans have already began to speculate on who might replace Drinkwitz as offensive coordinator. It has even been suggested that Harsin should just take over the play calling duties himself.
Bush Hamdan, former Boise State quarterback, is a name that has been brought up. Hamdan is currently on Coach Petersen’s staff at Washington, where he was recently hired as the Huskies wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator. Hamdan was co-offensive coordinator at Arkansas St. in 2013 under Harsin so it would be interesting to see where Hamdan’s loyalties lay if an offer to him was submitted.
The man Hamdan replaced at Washington, Pease, is another name that is being bantered about. Pease was at Florida before joining the Huskies staff, but is currently rumored to be the new offensive coordinator at UTEP.
The Broncos could always promote from within if Lee Marks or Junior Adams vied for the job. Marks currently coaches the running backs and Adams the wide receivers.
Or someone outside of the Boise State family could be hired, though I see that as the less likely of options given the way hires have gone over the years.
However it plays out, the same idea that goes for players will go for the new offensive coordinator: next man up.
Unless Harsin brings in an experienced coach that has no designs to move up in the coaching ranks, Bronco fans should get used to the idea of an offensive coordinator staying for only 1-2 years. As long as they’re doing well and the Broncos are winning, that’s a good thing. It means Boise State is staying on the national radar, right where they want to be.