SEC Network's Gene Chizik ranks top coordinator hires, says one hire 'has to work'
More than half of the coordinators in the SEC are in their first season at their current post.
SEC Network analyst Gene Chizik weighed in on the moves and recently ranked the most impactful coordinator hires of the offseason. Host Dari Nowkhah added, “Know the names, if you don’t by now, you will over the next few months.”
South Carolina offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon, who received a promotion after a positive bowl game performance, brings a faster-paced attack which Chizik said fits quarterback Jake Bentley, “perfectly.”
“Jake will tell you the same thing,” said the former Auburn coach, who ranked McClendon fifth on the list. “The other thing I like about this is he doesn’t have to completely re-invent the wheel.”
Missouri offensive coordinator Derek Dooley will be watched for how he blends pro-style concepts with the spread attack that the Tigers have been so successful with recently. Chizik said Dooley finding a balance between adding what he learned in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys and what Missouri’s done best in recent years will be his most important job.
Perhaps the most interesting hire in Chizik’s mind was Steve Ensminger, the offensive coordinator at LSU, who has a history with coach Ed Orgeron.
“Ed O. took all his chips and pushed them all in because this hire has to work, there’s no question,” Chizik said. “And there are so many question marks with what’s going on at LSU, starting with the quarterbacks. Steve’s going to have to create an offense that’s efficient and doesn’t turn the ball over for that thing to work.”
Former Notre Dame assistant Mike Elko now runs the defense at Texas A&M, and Chizik praised him for always having a fundamentally sound defense that’s coached well and always in the right place.
But the No. 1 coordinator hire of the offseason was Todd Grantham, who came with Dan Mullen from Mississippi State to Florida. The former Louisville and Georgia coordinator certainly has a reputation across the league, but drew praise for his defense’s performance last season.
“He’s at a place right now where they expect to play great defense,” Chizik said. “The thing I like about Todd is even though he’s going from a 4-3 to a 3-4, we saw him in one year in 2017, turn around Mississippi State’s defense and put them really in a position to be one of the best in the country.”