The 10 Best Offensive Minds in College Football
There are many college football fans—the purists among us, if you will—who love the sight of a solid defensive struggle such as Alabama and LSU's epic first meeting last season.
Then there are the rest of us.
The ones who can't resist games featuring offense, offense and more offense. The fans who don't even feign interest in a game until both teams have scored at least two touchdowns in the first half.
The men on this list are our idols.
The following coaches provide us with those sparks and feed our need to see points on the board. If you are looking for great defensive minds, this is not the place.
This list is reserved for the 10 offensive minds that have thrilled us with offenses that routinely wear out scoreboards.
10. Todd Monken, Oklahoma State
Dana Holgorsen departed town, leaving his position as offensive coordinator, and you may have thought this offense would suffer some serious regression.
So, of course, they immediately win the Big 12 and a BCS game on the back of their potent offense while the door is still swinging from his exit.
This success can be attributed to Monken, the man who knew enough to leave alone the system that worked.
Monken utilized the tools he had available—namely Brandon Weeden, Justin Blackmon and Joseph Randle—in such a way that the offense finished second in the nation to Houston in passing yards.
If the man is smart, he will stick with the current system, only tweaking when necessary.
And if all he does is that, he deserves some credit.
9. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
Call it old-fashioned, boring and one-dimensional.
Call it whatever you will.
The truth remains, Paul Johnson's triple option offense—which he has run for some time now, both at Tech and before that at Navy—gets plenty of production.
At 717 attempts last season, the Yellow Jackets were third behind only Air Force and Army in that department, and they finished the season with a whopping 4,113 yards on the ground to go with 45 rushing touchdowns.
While they are certainly not a national power yet, this offense gives defenses nightmares.
You know they are going to run, so you load the box with nine guys, but somehow, they manage to be productive in the run game anyway, thanks to Paul Johnson and his schemes.
8. Norm Chow, Hawaii
In 1984, BYU won the national title.
Norm Chow was calling the plays.
In 2003, some quarterback from N.C. State by the name of Rivers was developed into one of the best quarterback prospects of the past decade.
Norm Chow was his quarterback coach.
Chow then left his fingerprints all over USC's potent offenses in 2004 and 2005 before departing for the NFL.
Sadly, after his return to the NFL, he couldn't turn around UCLA's offense (no one could). He departed for Utah for a single season as offensive coordinator before heading south to Hawaii as head coach.
All in all, he has coached four Heisman Trophy winners, along with other notable quarterbacks such as Jim McMahon, Steve Young and the aforementioned Philip Rivers.
The failure at UCLA is a blight on his otherwise stellar record, but Hawaii fans should be ecstatic that a man this accomplished, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, is coaching on the Islands.
7. Brent Pease, Florida
Pease has been at Boise State in one capacity or another since 2006, most recently as quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator.
His exploits there—namely leading the Broncos to over 480 yards of offense per contest—have since been rewarded, as he has moved on to take over as OC for Florida.
Turning that offense into an efficient, productive unit is about as a big a job as turning around our national debt.
Pease has demonstrated his ability to be a solid position coach, coaching guys at BSU such as Titus Young, Austin Pettis and Kellen Moore.
With the type of talent the Gators can recruit, he is set to make a big splash in his new digs at Florida.
6. Paul Chryst, Pitt
Wisconsin football was known for years as a "ground and pound" offense featuring a game manager at quarterback, a stellar rushing attack and little else.
When Chryst arrived in 2005, the Badgers offense became the high-powered attack that hung around with Oregon in the Rose Bowl this past season.
The change was dramatic, and it led the Badgers to consecutive BCS bowls.
With an offense at Chryst's disposal that features Ray Graham at running back, expect some immediate results at Pitt, with big leaps forward in the program in seasons to come.
5. Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia
Holgorsen, after assisting Mike Gundy at Oklahoma State with an explosive offense, took his show on the road to West Virginia.
His spin off of Mike Leach's offense is incredibly potent, putting up almost 470 yards of total offense per game in his first season at the helm of the Mountaineers.
His ability to adapt that offensive scheme to his personnel at OSU was excellent, leading to great success for the Cowboys.
His time at WVU, with excellent athletes at the skill positions, has been successful thus far, resulting in a BCS appearance in his first year as coach.
This year, with the same guys in their second season in the system, his offense is going to be scary good.
4. Chip Kelly, Oregon
Before his time at Oregon, Kelly was a successful head coach at New Hampshire.
Under his leadership, the Wildcats regularly averaged over 400 yards of offense per game.
I guess that wasn't a fluke.
Since his arrival at Oregon in 2007, he has implemented an incredibly explosive spread attack that teams have extreme difficulty trying to slow down.
Since he took over as head coach in 2009, the Ducks have been to three consecutive BCS bowls, earning their bids on the back of his tremendous offensive scheme.
The SEC, Big 12 and Big Ten seem to get more press than the West Coast teams at times, but none of their fans that have ever seen a Chip Kelly team play would deny that his offenses are consistently one of the top units in the nation.
3. Al Borges, Michigan
Borges' "Gulf Coast Offense," featuring accurate and mobile quarterbacks and quick, controlled passes has been featured on two teams that have won BCS games and another (UCLA) that went to back-to-back Rose Bowls.
Now, he has taken over at Michigan, and if we don't see huge strides from quarterback Denard Robinson in his second year in the system, it will be shocking.
Borges has made a habit of developing quarterbacks—Ryan Lindley at San Diego State, Cade McNown at UCLA—and his latest project, Robinson, is easily the most talented.
Expect big things from his offenses at Michigan over the next few season.
2. Mike Leach, Washington State
After departing Texas Tech in a cloud of controversy, Leach has returned to the college football head coaching ranks as the head honcho at Washington State, a program that badly needs an infusion of life on that side of the ball.
Leach has been an incredibly forward-thinking member of the coaching fraternity since his days at Oklahoma, where he tweaked Hal Mumme's "Air-Raid" offense into a dangerously potent attack for the Sooners.
Dana Holgorsen, mastermind of Oklahoma State and West Virginia's potent offenses, was an assistant to Leach for a time.
He's one of the most flamboyant, opinionated coaches in the game, but the man sure knows how to make an offense go.
1. Chris Ault, Nevada
Chris Ault has been the head coach at Nevada for three different periods of time from 1976 to now.
Variations of his "pistol" offense have been run across the country, at schools from LSU to Syracuse. And yet, because he has spent most of his career laboring at Nevada, he is missing from most lists such as this one.
Not this time.
His contributions to the game, by way of offensive innovation, are second to no one currently coaching, and he remains the only active head coach in the College Football Hall of Fame.
While others garner more accolades due to prominent positions, Ault has remained loyal, innovative and forward-thinking—all earmarks of a great offensive mind.