Mike DeBord has officially retired, meaning that Indiana will indeed have a new offensive coorddinator next fall. While it was basically unanimous among IU fans that the offense needed a change in leadership, I should mention that DeBord always seemed excited to be at IU, and people on the ground in Bloomington were impressed that he would go out of his way to thank everyone working with the team. So we should thank him for his time here, but also recognize that it was time to move on.
On the other hand, if you’re an IU football fan who was concerned with the direction of the program after two straight lackluster 5-7 seasons, you should be pleased with Tom Allen’s desire to improve the program this offseason. He brought in a top-40 recruiting class in early signing period, relinquished DC duties to Kane Wommack, and now is going to replace his former OC. These are substantial steps for IU to get to the next level in the hyper-competitive Big Ten East.
With this in mind, Allen now has a huge hire to make. As a defensive guy, Allen is basically going to entrust the entire offensive vision to whomever he hires as OC. So let’s take a look at some of the potential hires he could make.
Grant Heard, WRs coach
Allen’s promotion of Kane Wommack to DC was one of familiarity, as Allen has worked with both him and his dad. Allen also had known DeBord for almost 4 decades before bringing him in two years ago. If familiarity is a factor, then Heard becomes a logical choice for promotion. Allen and Heard worked together at Ole Miss before Allen hired him on at IU. He’s been a tireless recruiter and could improve working in some of the wide receivers who seemed underutilized at times throughout the past two seasons.
Mike Hart, RBs coach
Hart is only 32, but could get promoted into this role based on the strength of the IU run game. He coached true freshman Stevie Scott to an over 1,000-yard season this year. If IU wants to retain Hart, a promotion could be one way to go about it.
Matt Canada, former Maryland interim head coach
We laid out the case for Canada a few weeks ago. Would the New Palestine native and IU alum come back to Bloomington, where he was OC during the Lynch era? His rushing schemes have confused many a defense in the ACC, SEC, and B1G, but could IU offer him the money he’ll want? I’d say it’s a longshot, but definitely worth considering.
Graham Harrell, North Texas OC
If I were making this decision, Harrell would be my first call. He’s done well under former IU OC Seth Littrell at UNT, and has air-raid experience as a QB and a coach under Mike Leach, who’s mentored a ton of successful coaches and OCs around college football. At 30, he’s still young, but IU is the type of school that could take a chance on him. But even this might be a tough sell — Littrell turned down overtures from Kansas State to stay at UNT, so he may want to keep the band together there. Plus, his name has come up for the OC vacancy at Oklahoma State, a long-time air raid school. Regardless, if IU hires Harrell, we’ll get to see this legendary clip on repeat during games:
Brian Wright, Toledo OC
Looking for a more local name with a potent offense? Look no further than Toledo, where Wright led the Rockets to a 17th-ranked S&P+ offense in 2018. His offenses averaged 41 points per game and 448.5 total yards per game, and were especially effective on the ground. Could Wright make the adjustment from facing MAC defenses to playing Big Ten defenses?
Kyle Ralph, New Palestine High School head coach
You want a real dark horse? Let’s throw Kyle Ralph’s name out there. New Palestine’s teams racked up a ton of points on the way to an undefeated record and a IHSAA class 5A state title. Ralph was an all-ACC offensive lineman at UNC and played high school ball for for St. Xavier in Cincinnati, so he could make inroads recruiting at several places as well. He also isn’t afraid to voice his opinions on social media:
Purdue is so wildly overmatched in this game. I’m not going to start a B1G vs SEC rant here but fill the characters I didn’t type however you want...this is ugly.— Kyle Ralph (@NPCoachRalph) December 28, 2018
Whoever the next Indiana OC is, he will need to be someone who fits in with the culture Allen is building in Bloomington, and feature an innovative scheme that can take the Hoosier offense to the next level and utilize the solid recruiting classes that Allen has brought in.