In college football, the offense gets all the publicity, but assembling a list of the top offensive coordinators is a little more difficult than you’d expect. Basically, from one OC to another, there is not one fixed collection of obligations. They just do things a little differently. With a few exceptions, we try as much as possible to keep away from the co-offensive coordinator titles. This is a normal thing in college football, but since it’s one person running the show, it’s easier to pin down anything. Furthermore, the hard thing about listing offensive coordinators is that, in reality, not many head coaches occupy the position. In certain cases, while OCs draw up game plans, the head coach will call the plays.
Anyway, we have listed some of the best offensive coordinators in the game that are worth mentioning. You may read on to know more about these coaches.
Kendall Briles, Florida State
The debut season of Lane Kiffin at FAU drew plenty of national coverage, but the head coach was swift to laud Briles for the offensive performance of the team that season. After just one season, Briles left FAU and soon converted Houston into a top 5 scoring offense after the Cougars finished No. 65 the previous season. This offseason, Willie Taggart turned over the control to Briles to FSU’s offense after Tennessee expressed interest in the former Houston OC.
Jim Chaney, Tennessee
One of the nation’s most experienced play-callers is back for his second Rocky Top stint and his hiring may be the one that makes the hire of Jeremy Pruitt in Knoxville a positive. He’s able to adjust to the team, something many coaches fail to do, the strongest part of Chaney’s offensive scheme. With the return of veteran QB Jarrett Guarantano and all of his main targets, Tennessee could be a pass-heavy offense, then easily turn into a run-heavy squad the following season, based on who returns. If Pruitt trusts Chaney enough to turn over his play-offensive caller’s system, the results should pay off for the Vols immediately.
Tony Elliott, Clemson
On Dabo Swinney’s staff, there’s plenty of coaching expertise and Clemson’s offensive play-caller sits at the top of the list. The schemes built during the new College Football Playoff deserve respect and Elliott deserves credit for engineering an offensive success not seen since his arrival in Tuscaloosa against a Nick Saban defense. Elliott will potentially get his pick of jobs next offseason if Clemson continues to do it again next season.
Dan Enos, Miami
There’s an explanation why Nick Saban chose Enos this offseason to replace Mike Locksley because both Jim Harbaugh and the Alabama coach recruited the former Arkansas OC after the Fayetteville shooting of Bret Bielema. As one of the best play-callers in the game, Enos is valued in coaching circles. Outside of Razorbacks supporters, few would remember how badly Brandon Allen was seen before Enos took the OC job in Arkansas, but after an impressive senior season, the QB quit the school and parlayed it into an NFL future. Before injuries ruined his senior season, Enos then helped Austin Allen achieve equal success.
David Yost, Texas Tech
This may not be a name people are familiar with, but after leading Utah State to the No. 2 scoring offense last season in the country, he’s one to watch going forward (47.5 points per game). Yost accompanied Matt Wells to Texas Tech and we’ll soon find out how the wide-open Big 12 converts to his system.
Andy Ludwig, Utah
Ludwig left for greener pastures out West, arguably the SEC’s most overlooked coordinator last season, and is now poised to lead Utah’s offense next season going into what should be a landmark season for the Utes. In recent seasons, Ludwig built Kyle Shurmur into a strong SEC passer. As Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Jared Pinkney, and Kalija Lipscomb could all make cases of being the best players in their places in the league, he even secretly showed some of the best position players in the SEC last season.
Rich Rodriguez, Ole Miss
Since 2000, Rich Rod hasn’t been a full-time OC, or he would actually rate higher on this list. Unfortunately, he won’t have much grace period for the Ole Miss coordinator, since he’s charged with restoring an offense that destroyed almost its entire passing assault. Next fall, the Rebels will presumably totally change gears on offense and if Rodriguez manages to turn his team into a decent SEC unit effectively, next season he will see his stock grow considerably on this list.
Derek Dooley, Missouri
Dooley’s recruitment was one of last season’s greatest question marks, but it turned out well for Barry Odom. The team’s ground game was a beast at times and Kelly Bryant signed on at Mizzou to play for Dooley after receiving opportunities to play, and potentially start immediately, for Auburn, Arkansas, and Mississippi State. Drew Lock began his development and went on to the NFL. Dooley’s hiring was one of last season’s biggest question marks, but if Dooley continues to turn Bryant into an NFL prospect, he might very well be next year’s head coach this time around.
Eddie Gran, Kentucky
The Benny Snell show last year was the Kentucky offense, but even though the defenses knew what was coming, they struggled to avoid it more times than not. That’s a tribute to Gran for his ability to build efficient running programs and operate in the hardest conference in the country with an inexperienced QB. This season will bring Gran’s talents to the test, and if the Wildcats are going to impress again in the East, Kentucky needs to get something out of Terry Wilson.
Phil Longo, North Carolina
The former Ole Miss OC has a few detractors, but the end zone is found by his offenses. To Longo’s credit, when Shea Patterson was out for the 2017 season, his offense did not lose a beat. We’ll never know how good those units would have been, but the talent and depth of the program have been substantially checked since the NCAA sanctions. In 2019, the former Ole Miss OC welcomed a fresh challenge when Mack Brown hired him this offseason to restore the offense of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
Steve Sarkisian, Alabama
For a few seasons, Sarkisian has been away from the college game, but he has shown enough as the Atlanta Falcons play-caller to merit a spot on this list. He’s a sure bet to be among the top risers on the list by the time the 2019 college football season ends, considering the talent on hand that he’ll get to deal with next season in Tuscaloosa.