The Big 12 didn’t experience a ton of turnover in the coordinator ranks this offseason, but there were a few big changes to watch in 2017. Doug Meacham left behind his play-calling duties at TCU to coordinate the offense under coach David Beaty at Kansas. Meacham’s arrival should provide an instant spark for the Jayhawks’ attack. On defense, the addition of Todd Orlando as coordinator is a huge boost for a Texas unit that finished near the bottom of the conference in points allowed last year.
Which teams made the best coordinator hires in the Big 12 for 2017? Here are five names to know, followed by a handful of assistant coach hires to watch.
Big 12's Top Coordinator Hires for 2017
Sonny Cumbie, Co-Offensive Coordinator, TCU
With Doug Meacham’s decision to leave TCU for Kansas, Cumbie was promoted to play-caller, with Curtis Luper joining him as a co-offensive coordinator. Cumbie – a former Texas Tech quarterback – came to Fort Worth in 2014 and worked closely with Meacham to mold TCU’s offense into one of the Big 12’s best over the last three years. In addition to his role as the play-caller, the Texas native will also tutor the quarterbacks. What tweaks could Cumbie make to the TCU attack in 2017? Don’t expect major changes, but the Horned Frogs could lean on their ground attack a little more. And Cumbie and Luper have an additional voice to lean on, as former California coach Sonny Dykes is working with the team as an offensive analyst.
Related: College Football Top 25 for 2017
Doug Meacham, Offensive Coordinator, Kansas
After three seasons at TCU, Meacham is making a move north to Kansas. Under Meacham’s watch, the Horned Frogs showed marked improvement on offense. Meacham inherited a unit that averaged only 25.1 points per game in 2013 but improved to over 40 points per contest from 2014-15. TCU averaged 6.1 yards per play last season but slipped to eighth in the Big 12 in scoring last year. Prior to TCU, Meacham called the plays at Houston in 2013 and previously worked at Oklahoma State from 2005-12. Head coach David Beaty has Kansas moving in the right direction, and the addition of Meacham should instantly help an offense that ranked last in the Big 12 in scoring last fall.
Todd Orlando, Defensive Coordinator, Texas
Orlando worked under new Texas coach Tom Herman for the last two years at Houston and takes over a Longhorn defense that ranked eighth in the Big 12 by surrendering 31.5 points per game last fall. Orlando’s arrival should provide instant help for Texas, especially with a strong personnel foundation in place at each level. Under Orlando’s direction, Houston’s defense limited opponents to 20.7 points per game in 2015 and 23.5 per contest last year. The Cougars also led the nation in forced turnovers (35) in 2015 and generated 75 sacks over the last two seasons. Prior to Houston, Orlando called the defensive signals at Utah State (2013-15), FIU (2011-12) and UConn (2005-10). He’s a rising star and a future head coach at the FBS level.
Related: Big 12's 2017 All-Conference Team
Phil Snow, Defensive Coordinator, Baylor
Snow is a grizzled veteran in the assistant ranks. He started his coaching career in 1976 at Berkeley High School and followed with stops at Winters High School and Laney College (1979-81) before landing at Boise State in 1982. After five years with the Broncos, Snow spent time with California, Arizona State, UCLA, Washington, Eastern Michigan and in the NFL with the Lions before joining Matt Rhule’s staff at Temple in 2013. The California native engineered a defense that led the American Athletic Conference in scoring defense in 2014 and 2016. Additionally, the Owls allowed just under five yards per play (4.6 and 4.8) in those two seasons. The Bears have a few holes to fill on defense this offseason, but Snow should help this defense progress over the course of the 2017 campaign.
Jake Spavital, Offensive Coordinator, West Virginia
Spavital departed Morgantown after the 2012 season, but he’s returned to West Virginia to handle the play-calling duties for the Mountaineers in 2017. Coach Dana Holgorsen still has a large influence on the offense, but Spavital’s arrival should alleviate the workload. The Oklahoma native is only 32 years old and this will be his third stop as a coordinator at the Power 5 level. Spavital worked as the offensive coordinator at Texas A&M from 2013-15 and for one season at California (2016). Under Spavital’s direction, the Golden Bears ranked third in the Pac-12 by averaging 37.1 points per game. Even if Holgorsen still takes on a role in play-calling or building game plans, Spavital is a trusted (and valuable) voice to have on offense.
Other Key Assistant Hires
Oscar Giles, Defensive Line Coach, Texas
Josh Henson, Offensive Line Coach, Oklahoma State
Jabbar Juluke, Running Backs Coach, Texas Tech
Collin Klein, Quarterbacks Coach, Kansas State
Drew Mehringer, Wide Receivers Coach, Texas
Elijah Robinson, Defensive Line Coach, Baylor
Mike Siravo, Linebackers Coach, Baylor
Chris Thomsen, Offensive Line Coach, TCU
Doug Meacham photo by Jeff Jacobsen/Kansas Athletics, courtesy of www.kuathletics.com
Todd Orlando photo courtesy of www.texassports.com