Former offensive coordinator Mike Bobo was hardly missed as Georgia temporarily elevated tight ends coach John Lilly for the Belk Bowl last week. But if Lilly's performance in a one-game tryout and his familiarity with the culture in Athens is not enough to secure him the job, Brian Schottenheimer is the perfect candidate to fill the void.
Currently the St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator, Schottenheimer boasts an impressive football pedigree and a coaching resume that could be a real asset in The Classic City. And according to Dean Legge of Scout.com's Dawg Post, he's on the short list of replacements for Bobo.
The son of longtime NFL head coach Marty Schottenheimer and the nephew of weathered NFL assistant Kurt Schottenheimer, Brian Schottenheimer graduated from the University of Florida, where he played under Steve Spurrier and backed up star quarterback Danny Wuerffel for three years. After a winding—but successful—early career, a move back to the Southeastern Conference could be next for Schottenheimer, who turned 41 in October.
For Georgia, the allure of an NFL name is strong. While coaching at the collegiate level presents its unique challenges, the recruiting advantage of having a tenured NFL offensive coordinator running a pro-style offense could be decisive. Schottenheimer has the chops to back up such hypothesizing.
He developed NFL quarterbacks from 2001-2005 with the Washington Redskins and the San Diego Chargers. Since that time, he's served as an offensive coordinator with the New York Jets (from 2006-2011) and the Rams (since 2012). Though his performance at football's highest level is debatable, the fact that he's earned a paycheck as offensive coordinator in the NFL for each of the last nine seasons cannot be ignored.
Very few assistant coaches know the game of football as well as Schottenheimer, and very few assistants could appeal to dream-chasing recruits with more experience.
Last winter, Tracy Rocker was a terrific addition to Georgia's coaching staff because of his experience coaching defensive line units at the NFL level. The same would be true to an even greater extent of Schottenheimer.
When Bobo's departure for a head coaching job was announced, many fans immediately feared the potential loss of a commitment from Jacob Eason, the top pro-style quarterback in the 2016 recruiting class, according to 247Sports. Hiring Schottenheimer would only strengthen Eason's commitment and the interest of stars seeking NFL-like offenses.
And according to his current boss, Rams head coach Jeff Fisher, Schottenheimer appears to have the skills one would hope for in a collegiate offensive coordinator. According to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Fisher praised Schottenheimer last week, saying, "I think Brian is an outstanding play-caller. Outstanding play-caller. He's very organized. He's an excellent teacher."
Talk may be cheap, but those words of endorsement seem to rebuff concerns that may have stemmed from Georgia's last hire of an NFL coordinator, Todd Grantham.
Grantham's knowledge of defensive schemes was vast. But his most recurring shortcoming was an inability to teach young players and develop personnel. Fisher's complimentary assessment of Schottenheimer's ability to educate is encouraging.
Further, Schottenheimer stands out because he's hard to eliminate for obvious reasons. According to Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald, Georgia is also looking at the likes of Mike Bloomgren (Stanford), Kurt Roper (last with Florida, but not retained by new head coach Jim McElwain) and Tyson Helton (Western Kentucky).
Bloomgren is a compelling candidate given the recent success of Stanford football, but he's only been the team's offensive coordinator for two seasons, and over that period the Cardinal have combined to average fewer than 30 points per game. In five losses this season, Stanford averaged just 13.4 points per contest—and that included 10 points in overtime periods during a 20-17 loss to Utah. Also of note: Bloomgren worked under Schottenheimer for five seasons with the Jets.
Roper was a trendy name this time last year after helping revitalize Duke football, but is he worthy of such praise after a dismal performance at Florida in 2014? For the most part, Florida's offense struggled in his lone season at the offensive helm. Against FBS opposition, Roper's unit averaged just 24.6 points per game, and the lone highlight of the year was a 38-point performance against (ironically) Georgia.
As for Helton, the concern is experience. Though he's been around the block as a coach, with stops at Hawaii, UAB and Memphis before arriving at Western Kentucky, he's never coached at a Power Five conference program, and he's only been an offensive coordinator for one season.
Schottenheimer brings a lot of everything to the table. He's a big name that should offer a viable advantage in recruiting. He's a capable teacher and knowledgeable play-caller, which should make practices productive and game plans effective. And he's experienced enough to take the role in stride.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand.