Florida State has been in contact with several candidates to fill its vacancy at offensive coordinator following the departure of Walt Bell on Monday.
Names such as Kliff Kingsbury, Hugh Freeze and Kendal Briles have emerged in recent days (Updated 12/5: Hot Board). Kingsbury, considered one of FSU’s top options and a long shot given that FSU was off to a slower start in the negotiating process, ended up at USC. Talks with Freeze have been ongoing for days, and he’s being considered for the OC job at Alabama and the head coaching job at Liberty. These aren’t the only candidates, however.
Noles247 takes a closer look at some of the frontrunners for the OC job as the hiring process flows into Thursday. Here’s what you need to know about Kendal Briles.
-Houston offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach, and associate head coach from 2018-present.
-FAU offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach, and assistant head coach in 2017.
-Baylor offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach from 2015-16, passing-game coordinator, receivers coach and recruiting coordinator from 2012-14, and inside receivers/offensive recruiting coordinator from 2008-2011.
Offensive background and accomplishments:
-Willie Taggart uses elements of the scheme Baylor popularized in the past decade. An emphasis on spacing out receivers with extra wide splits to open up room for running backs to run and quarterbacks to make reads in an option-heavy attack. Briles’ father, Art Briles, innovated many of these concepts at the college level.
-Houston was 11th nationally in yards per play (6.77) this past season with Briles as the coordinator. FAU was 11th as well in yards per play (6.80) in 2017 with Briles. Baylor was second nationally in yards per play (7.26) in 2015 when Briles was the coordinator, and ranked 15th or better in yards per play from 2010-15.
-Briles mentored four All-Americans and five total NFL prospects during seven seasons as a receivers coach, including first-round picks Kendall Wright and Corey Coleman.
-Briles has been successful on the field at each of his previous stops.
-His familiarity with FSU’s system and philosophies would, theoretically, make for an easy transition among players.
-Experience calling plays and implementing his scheme, even at a young age (36), fits criteria Taggart is looking for.
-He is the son of former Baylor coach Art Briles, who was fired amid a university investigation into two high-profile sexual assault cases claims involving Baylor football players. Kendal Briles was on the Baylor staff during the time of the scandal, and we saw Houston work to defend the hiring of Briles earlier this year. How would this hire be perceived at a university that dealt with a very public Title IX lawsuit involving sexual assault allegations against Jameis Winston in recent years?
-Taggart is looking for stability after the offense struggled last season. Losing Bell after a year won’t help with building stability. Will a young, successful play caller like Briles be around for more than a year or two before getting good head-coaching offers if he does well at a big program like FSU?
-Does Briles’ recently-signed contract extension impact his availability from a financial standpoint? FSU is willing to splurge to find a top-tier OC. But it’s worth noting that Briles signed an extension through 2021 that’ll pay him $700,000, making him one of the highest-paid coordinators from a Go5 school. His buyout could be up to 50 percent of his remaining salary if FSU were to hire him.
What we’re hearing:
Briles is high atop FSU’s list and we’ve heard that the two sides have already been in contact. Freeze appears to be a higher priority at this time, but Briles is an intriguing option, albeit one with baggage, that would check off a lot of boxes for what Taggart wants in his next OC.