Posted by Jerry Hinnen
In the wake of his Wildcats' 36-10 Alamo Bowl demolition at the hands of Oklahoma State (and final, disappointing 2010 record of 7-6), Mike Stoops promised changes in Tucson. And the departure of co-offensive coordinator Bill Bedenbaugh to follow Dana Holgorsen (somewhat ironically, the architect of the Wildcats' Alamo embarrassment) to West Virginia would seem to give Stoops a perfect opportunity to shake things up for the nation's 89th-ranked rushing offense. But his latest coaching hire seems like more of the same.
Bedenbaugh, fellow co-offensive coordinator Seth Littrell (the Wildcats' primary play-caller), and former 'Cat OC and current Louisiana Tech head coah Sonny Dykes were all hired by Stoops out of the Mike Leach coaching tree that also produced Holgorsen. Instead of moving away from that philosophy, however, Stoops has embraced it once again by replacing Bedenbaugh with former BYU offensive coordinator Robert Anae , yet another Leach disciple.
In a lot of ways, Anae's hire makes sense all the same. Bedenbaugh's departure puts Arizona in the market for an offensive line coach, which just so happened to be Anae's role at Texas Tech before becoming the Cougars' play-caller. There was also no lack of productivity during Anae's years at BYU; until this year's crater job under a pair of first-time quarterbacks, BYU's offense had finished in the top 25 nationally in total offense for four straight years on Anae's watch. If Stoops wants to strip Littrell of his play-calling duties, Anae would seem to be a viable candidate to take them over.
All the same, if Stoops was serious about really changing things up, he'd have plucked an apple off of a coaching tree other than the same Lubbock-grown one he's visited so many times before. Staying the course may prove the proper decision -- until this season, the Leach brigade had played a major, major role in the program's steady improvement under Stoops -- but if 2010 was the start of a long-term downswing rather than a one-year fluke, Stoops may wish he'd have taken the opportunity to plot a very different course for his offense.