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College Football's Top 35 Coordinator Hires for 2019

College Football's Top 35 Coordinator Hires for 2019

College Football's Top 35 Coordinator Hires for 2019

Whether it was head coaches, coordinators or position coaches, college football's coaching carousel was especially active this offseason. In addition to the 27 changes among head coaches, there were numerous and important hires for coordinators. Oklahoma's Alex Grinch takes the top spot as the No. 1 coordinator hire for 2019, followed by three offensive play-callers in Ole Miss' Rich Rodriguez, Florida State's Kendal Briles, and Miami's Dan Enos. Of the top 10 hires by Athlon Sports, seven were on the offensive side of things. 

Which teams made the best coordinator hires in college football for 2019? Here are 35 hires at offensive or defensive coordinator from all 130 FBS teams ranked based on impact for 2019.

College Football's Top 35 Coordinator Hires for 2019

35. Bob Stitt, Offensive Coordinator, Texas State

Texas State’s offense won’t lack for entertainment value or offensive acumen with Stitt and coach Jake Spavital teaming up in San Marcos. In addition to a 129-76 record in two stints as a head coach at Colorado Mines (2000-14) and Montana (2015-17), Stitt also spent time as an assistant at Harvard (1999) and in an off-field role at Oklahoma State (2018). During Stitt’s tenure at Montana, the Grizzlies posted back-to-back finishes inside the top 12 in FCS in scoring offense (2017-18). Stitt is known for his creativity and innovation on offense, especially when it relates to the fly sweep touch pass.

College Football Rankings: Texas State

34. Joe Cauthen, Co-Defensive Coordinator, Houston

Cauthen returned to his home state of Texas after spending the last five years working as the defensive coordinator at Arkansas State. Under Cauthen’s watch, the Red Wolves finished second in the Sun Belt in scoring defense in 2016 and consistently ranked near the top of the league in sacks generated and turnovers forced. Cauthen will share the co-defensive title with Doug Belk.

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33. Derrick Ansley, Co-Defensive Coordinator, Tennessee

Jim Chaney wasn’t the only big-time addition to Tennessee’s staff this offseason. Ansley arrives in Knoxville after a one-year stint with the Raiders. In addition his recruiting prowess, Ansley has established an impressive resume with stops as an assistant at Tennessee (2012), Kentucky (2013-15) and Alabama (2016-17). As evidenced by coach Jeremy Pruitt’s decision to hand play-calling duties to Ansley, he has a lot of confidence in the Alabama native to help develop this unit in 2019 and beyond. Ansley will share the coordinator title with Chris Rumph.

Tennessee Football Schedule

32. Mike Sanford, Offensive Coordinator, Utah State

Sanford’s tenure as WKU’s head coach ended after only two seasons, but he’s a big-time pickup for Utah State coach Gary Andersen. The former Boise State quarterback has worked as an assistant at Yale, WKU, Stanford, Boise State, and Notre Dame. In Sanford’s only year as Boise State’s offensive coordinator (2014), the Broncos led the Mountain West by averaging 39.7 points a game. Sanford’s experience working with quarterbacks should be a valuable asset for Utah State signal-caller Jordan Love.

College Football Rankings: Utah State

31. Bodie Reeder, Co-Offensive Coordinator, North Texas

With Mason Fine back at quarterback and a deep group of skill players in place, Reeder is stepping into one of the best situations for any new coordinator. The former Eastern Illinois quarterback worked at Oklahoma State from 2014-16 before calling the plays at Eastern Washington for the last two seasons. Under Reeder’s direction, the Eagles averaged 34.5 points a game in 2017 and 43.1 in ’18. At just 32 years old, he’s a rising star to monitor on Seth Littrell’s staff in Denton. Tommy Mainord will share the co-offensive coordinator title with Reeder.

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30. Andy Avalos, Co-Defensive Coordinator, Oregon

Oregon coach Mario Cristobal continued to put his stamp on the program by luring Avalos away from his alma mater (Boise State) to call the defensive signals in Eugene. The California native spent the last seven years working with the Broncos, including the final three as defensive coordinator. Under Avalos’ direction, Boise State never finished below fourth in the Mountain West in scoring defense and held teams to 4.83 yards a play in 2017. Ace recruiter and safeties coach Keith Heyward will share the co-defensive coordinator title with Avalos.

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Oregon

29. Glenn Spencer, Defensive Coordinator, FAU

After watching his defense give up 31.8 points a game last season, FAU coach Lane Kiffin is turning to Spencer to get the Owls back on track. And if last season was any indication, Spencer is certainly up to the task of generating improvement in one year. The Georgia native worked from 2008-17 at Oklahoma State and held the coordinator title from 2011-17. He took over as Charlotte’s defensive coordinator prior to 2018 and helped the 49ers limit teams to 26.6 points a game (down from 32.8 in ’17) and 5.78 yards a play (vs. 6.2). His experience and familiarity with the division from last season at Charlotte should pay dividends for FAU in 2019.

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28. Brian Newberry, Co-Defensive Coordinator, Navy

Newberry arrives in Annapolis after spending the last four years working as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach at Kennesaw State. Under Newberry’s watch, the Owls finished 26th or lower in the FCS in scoring defense in all four seasons and ranked seventh (2017-18) in back-to-back years. He will share the defensive coordinator title with veteran assistant Brian Norwood.

College football rankings: NAVY

27. Brad Lambert, Volunteer Defensive Assistant, Marshall

Despite the unusual title (volunteer defensive assistant), Lambert is expected to call the defensive signals for Marshall in 2019. This will be Lambert’s second stint with the Thundering Herd, as he worked under Jim Donnan from 1990-95. The Kansas native also has stops on his resume from stints at Georgia and Wake Forest and went 22-24 as Charlotte's head coach from 2011-18 (49ers didn't start play until 2013). Lambert’s familiarity with the conference and experience should help keep Marshall’s defense near the top of Conference USA.

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26. Kerwin Bell, Offensive Coordinator, USF

Bell arrives in Tampa after guiding Valdosta State to the 2018 Division II national title and a 27-7 record from 2016-18. The former Florida quarterback also went 66-35 as Jacksonville’s head coach from 2007-15. Bell’s offenses at Valdosta State averaged over 30 points a game from 2016-17 but exploded in ’18. The Blazers used a balanced attack to average 52 points a contest and 7.9 yards a play. Bell inherits plenty of talented pieces and should help fix a USF offense that failed to score more than 25 points in each of its last five contests.

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25. Adam Fuller, Defensive Coordinator, Memphis

Memphis coach Mike Norvell has had to deal with a lot of turnover among his assistants over the last two offseasons, but he consistently hires good coaches to restock his staff. Fuller is one of those hires, as he arrives in Memphis after spending 2013-18 at Marshall, including the last season as defensive coordinator. The Thundering Herd allowed only 21.8 points a game, 4.82 yards a play, ranked second in C-USA versus the run, and gave up just four plays of 50 yards or more last fall.

College Football Rankings: Memphis Football

24. Bryan Brown, Co-Defensive Coordinator, Louisville

Brown has been on a fast rise through the assistant ranks since his playing career ended in 2006 at Ole Miss. The Mississippi native spent time working in graduate assistant or in off-field roles at Rutgers, Delta State and Ole Miss before landing at Appalachian State in 2012. He worked with the secondary from 2012-17 before taking over as the team’s play-caller in 2018. The Mountaineers had a standout defense in 2017 but were even stingier with Brown calling the plays. Appalachian State limited teams to 15.5 points a game, 4.4 yards a play and allowed just one play of 50 or more yards. Brown will share the defensive coordinator title with Cort Dennison.

College football rankings: Louisville

23. Steve Sarkisian, Offensive Coordinator, Alabama

Sarkisian will be the fourth different full-time offensive coordinator over the last four years for the Crimson Tide. The former BYU quarterback spent time in Tuscaloosa in an off-field role in 2016 and was elevated to offensive coordinator prior to the '17 national championship-winning campaign. Sarkisian left that offseason to call the plays for the Falcons and directed an offense that finished 10th in the NFL in scoring in 2018. He also went 46-35 as a head coach in stops at Washington and USC. The California native has a wealth of experience working with quarterbacks and should be a valuable sounding board for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa this fall.

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Alabama

22. Will Hall, Offensive Coordinator, Tulane

Tulane is coming off its best season (7-6) under Willie Fritz’s watch but the fourth-year coach isn’t sitting idle this offseason. Instead, Fritz hired Hall to coordinate the offense and help spark a unit that has not finished higher than eighth in the AAC in scoring over the last three years. Hall’s usage of tempo should provide a boost to an offense that features an experienced quarterback in Justin McMillan and plenty of talent at the skill positions. Hall spent the 2018 season as an assistant at Memphis and called the plays at Louisiana (28.2 ppg) in ’17. The Mississippi native also went 25-11 as West Alabama’s head coach (2011-13) and 31-9 at West Georgia (2014-16).

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21. David Yost, Offensive Coordinator, Texas Tech

In addition to his terrific hair, Yost has worked as a coordinator or assistant on some prolific offenses. The Ohio native worked from 2001-12 at Missouri and later spent three years (2013-15) on Mike Leach’s staff at Washington State. Yost worked at Oregon in 2016 before joining Matt Wells at Utah State. The Aggies averaged 30.2 points a game in 2017 (up from 23.9 in ’16) and led the Mountain West in scoring (47.5) in ’18. Yost also has a strong track record of developing quarterbacks, which should be crucial to helping Alan Bowman take a step forward as a sophomore.

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20. Mike MacIntyre, Defensive Coordinator, Ole Miss

Ole Miss has finished 13th or worse in scoring defense in the SEC over the last three years, so MacIntyre’s arrival is a critical move for Matt Luke’s tenure in Oxford. MacIntyre has spent the last nine years as a head coach, going 16-21 at San Jose State from 2010-12 and 30-44 at Colorado (2013-18). The Florida native brings NFL experience (2003-06 with Cowboys and ’07 with Jets) to Oxford and also called the plays at Duke from 2008-09. MacIntyre previously coached at Ole Miss as an assistant from 1999-2002.

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19. Greg Mattison/Jeff Hafley, Co-Defensive Coordinator, Ohio State

New coach Ryan Day is banking on Mattison and Hafley combining forces to get Ohio State’s defense back on track after an uncharacteristic 2018 season. Mattison has a wealth of experience on this side of the ball, including stops at Texas A&M, Michigan, Notre Dame, Florida and in the NFL with the Ravens. Mattison developed Michigan’s defensive line over the last four years, and this unit played a key role in the Wolverines recording at least 88 tackles for a loss every year in that span. While Mattison is known for his experience working with the defensive front, Hafley has spent most of his career coaching in the secondary. The New Jersey native arrived in Columbus after working with the Buccaneers (2012-13), Browns (2014-15) and 49ers (2016-18) and has previous collegiate experience at Pitt (2006-10) and Rutgers (2011).

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Ohio State
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18. Dwayne Ledford, Offensive Coordinator, Louisville

New Louisville coach Scott Satterfield is likely to play a significant role in the play-calling duties, but Ledford makes this list due to his ability to develop talent in the trenches. The North Carolina native landed his first coaching gig at Tennessee State in 2010 and spent one season at Gardner-Webb (’11) before joining the staff at Appalachian State. Ledford worked four years as the Mountaineers’ offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator, with the last three under Satterfield. He worked for the last two years at NC State, helping the Wolfpack own one of the ACC’s top lines. Ledford’s group allowed only 24 sacks and produced four all-conference performers from 2016-17.

College football rankings: Louisville