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Five Possible Offensive Coordinator Candidates

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Some Christmas Eve light reading.

Mountain West Football Championship - Boise State v San Jose State Photo by David J. Becker/Getty Images

Auburn’s new head coach Bryan Harsin was formally introduced today marking the beginning of a new era for Auburn football. It also means it’s time to put the circus (mostly created by subscription sites and social media heroes) of a head coaching search behind us and pump sunshine about the future.

But before we can really start tallying up all those future national championships we need to have an idea of who else will be coaching the Tigers next season. Given the unpredictability of the head coach search it’s probably silly to try and guess who might be Auburn’s offensive or defensive coordinator in 2021. The internet though was made for silliness so I am going to take my best stab at who might be coordinating Auburn’s offense next fall.

Harsin is an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at heart. He’s also had tremendous success on that side of the ball throughout his career as his offensive numbers back up.

He will be looking to replicate that success on the Plains. Given the intricacies of his offensive philosophy, I think it’s fair to speculate that he will bring in someone already familiar with his system and who has coached with him before. Here’s a rundown on five names to keep an eye on in the coming weeks.


Zak Hill (Arizona Offensive Coordinator)

https://twitter.com/ZakHill10/media

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No one is more familiar with Harsin’s philosophy than Zak Hill. He served as Harsin’s offensive coordinator and QB coach for four seasons at Boise State. Following the 2019 season, he took a job at Arizona State replacing Rob Likens. His impact has been noticeable for the Sun Devils improving their yards per play from 5.5 to 7.1. He’s spent his career on the West Coast but I would imagine that the opportunity to coach in the SEC West would be alluring.


Mike Sanford Jr. (Minnesota Offensive Coordinator)

Florida International v Western Kentucky

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Sanford played QB for the Broncos while Harsin was on staff in the early 2000s. He spent three seasons at Stanford before getting the nod as Harsin’s offensive coordinator in 2014 when Auburn’s new head coach returned to Boise to take over for Chris Petersen. After putting together a high scoring attack, he headed east to join Brian Kelly’s staff at Notre Dame. Those two years were productive enough to earn him the head gig at Western Kentucky where things didn’t go great. He’s bounced around since being fired, most recently serving as offensive coordinator for P.J. Fleck at Minnesota. The last time Harsin took a head coaching job he called up Sanford. Might he do so again?


Eric Kiesau (Boise State Offensive Coordinator)

NCAA FOOTBALL: OCT 28 Air Force at Fresno State Photo by Rick Dodd/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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The easiest move might for Harsin might be to just bring his current offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau. Kiesau has been in Boise State’s program for four years now beginning as wide receiver’s coach before being promoted to co-offensive coordinator in 2019. The Broncos offense took a step back in 2020 but given the funkiness of this year it’s hard to be too critical. He previously served as OC for former Boise State coach Dan Hawkins in the twilight of his time at Colorado and later was apart of the Steve Sarkisian’s turnaround in Spokane.


Bush Hamdan (Missouri Wide Receivers & Quarterbacks Coach)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 29 BYU at Washington Photo by Jesse Beals/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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When Harsin took over for Gus Malzahn in 2013 at Arkansas State he named now Missouri head coach Eliah Drinkwitz and Bush Hamdan as his co-offensive coordinators. Hamdan played for Harsin back in the late 2000s before bouncing around as an analyst and position coach. Harsin gave him his first big gig in 2013 but did not bring Hamdan to Boise in 2014. Instead, Hamdan took an OC job at Davidson which didn’t go great before joining Petersen’s staff at Washington. He was the passing game coordinator for that incredible 2016 Huskies squad that went to the College Football Playoff. That success lead to a stint in the NFL before returning to Washington where he served as OC for 2 seasons. Last year he joined Drinkwitz staff at Missouri so he has a taste of what it’s like to coach in the SEC.


Jeff Grimes (BYU Offensive Coordinator)

BYU v Houston Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

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I strongly suspect that Auburn’s new offensive coordinator will be one of the four names listed above but if Harsin decides to go in a different direction and bring in someone with a stronger SEC pedigree, might former Auburn OL coach Jeff Grimes get the call? Grimes has spent most of his career as an OL coach at a number of programs including Auburn and LSU. He was on staff for Auburn’s national championship squad in 2010 and is an elite recruiter. Recently he’s emerged as one of the nation’s top offensive coordinators helping guide the Cougars to an 11-1 record.

War Eagle!