Best Under-the-Radar Coaching Hires of the Offseason

Ben Kercheval@@BenKerchevalCollege Football Lead WriterMarch 20, 2014

Best Under-the-Radar Coaching Hires of the Offseason

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    A splash hire doesn't necessarily equal a good hire, at either the head coach or assistant coach level. 

    In fact, with so many coaching changes, most can get lost in the shuffle. 

    With the coaching-silly season in the rear-view mirror, it's time to reflect on which programs made the best hires this offseason and which coaches made the best assistant hires—some of which came without the major headlines. 

    From head coaches to assistant coaches, there were some great under-the-radar hires over the past few months. So which ones made the list? The answers, as always, are in the following slides.

5. Offensive Coordinator Dave Christensen, Utah

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    Things didn't work out for Dave Christensen at Wyoming, but he wasn't out of work for long. 

    Christensen was fired by Wyoming after a disappointing 5-7 season in 2013, his third losing season with the Cowboys in five years. However, Christensen is known as a solid offensive mind and the Utes desperately need help on that side of the ball. 

    Utah coach Kyle Whittingham has gone through several offensive coordinators since taking over the program in 2005. That list includes the following, either as a coordinator or co-coordinator: Andy Ludwig (2005-08), Dave Schramm (2009, co-coordinator in 2010), Aaron Roderick (2010, co-coordinator in 2012-13), Norm Chow (2011), Brian Johnson (2012, co-coordinator in 2013) and Dennis Erickson (2013). 

    Though Wyoming was never an offensive powerhouse under Christensen, he did lead some prolific offenses at Missouri as an assistant under Gary Pinkel. The Tigers finished in the top 10 in scoring in 2007 and '08. 

4. Co-Offensive Coordinators Sonny Cumbie and Doug Meacham, TCU

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    TCU's offense was dreadful in 2013, one of the worst in the Big 12. 

    Frogs head coach Gary Patterson is one of the industry's best, so he brought in what should be a couple of excellent assistant coaches to give the offense a spark. 

    Enter Sonnie Cumbie and Doug Meacham, who will serve as co-offensive coordinators. Cumbie, who will focus on quarterbacks, comes to TCU from Texas Tech, where he was the Red Raiders' co-offensive coordinator and outside receivers coach. 

    Meacham's role is flipped. He will focus on inside wide receivers for the Frogs after serving as a co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Houston. 

    Texas Tech and Houston finished second and 26th nationally, respectively, in passing offense in 2013. Additionally, the Red Raiders and Cougars averaged over 33 points per game. 

    TCU is installing its version of the Air Raid offense. With turnover at quarterback, it could take a while for things to get going. In time, though, TCU's offense could be one of the conference's best.

3. Bryan Harsin, Boise State

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    Otto Kitsinger/Associated Press

    Bryan Harsin is Boise State's homecoming king. 

    Following the 2013 season, Harsin, then the coach at Arkansas State, was hired by his alma mater. Harsin succeeds Chris Petersen, who left to take the head coaching job at Washington. 

    Harsin has just one year of head coaching experience—his one season with the Red Wolves—but is considered one of the up-and-coming offensive minds in the game. 

    A former player for Boise, Harsin was a Broncos assistant from 2001-10. In 2011, he joined Texas' staff as the Longhorns' co-offensive coordinator. 

    Petersen left the program with high expectations, but Harsin is a popular hire for the Broncos administration and fan base.

2. Dave Clawson, Wake Forest

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Longtime Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe stepped down after the 2013 season. Taking his place is Bowling Green head coach Dave Clawson. 

    Clawson spent five years with the Falcons, compiling a 32-31 record. However, he won 10 games this past season and defeated Northern Illinois to win the MAC championship. Before Bowling Green, Clawson had a successful stint at the Football Championship Subdivision level with Richmond and Fordham. 

    Grobe did some great things with the Demon Deacons, but the program hadn't had a winning season since 2008. Frankly, Clawson could have landed a more high-profile job, which is why this hire makes some smaller waves. 

    Still, it appears Wake Forest got a great coach. For not having the best history in terms of wins and losses, Wake could have two excellent coaches back-to-back. 

    That's hard to do.

1. Chuck Martin, Miami (OH)

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    JOE RAYMOND/Associated Press

    Chuck Martin has been a part of a few successful football programs in his career. He takes over a Miami (OH) program that went winless in 2013. 

    With his offensive background, Martin will be in charge of boosting an offense that finished tied for last in the entire Football Bowl Subdivision with 9.8 points per game. 

    Martin comes to Miami from Notre Dame, where he was the Irish's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2012-13. He also spent two years coaching the Irish's defensive secondary. 

    Prior to his time with Notre Dame, Martin was the head coach at Division II power Grand Valley State from 2004-09, where he won four NCAA championships with the Lakers. 

    Martin has followed the path of his former boss, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, who has won at just about every level of college football. Can Martin have similar success?

    Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All stats courtesy of