The Oklahoma offensive coordinator job is a punching bag.
It's also a launching pad, which explains why Kevin Wilson was introduced Tuesday as Indiana's new football coach.
Fourteen coaches have held the title of OU offensive coordinator since 1966, when the position became in vogue. Twelve of the 14 have become major-college head coaches.
Not bad for a bunch of guys whose names often are followed by, â€œthe bum.â€
Wilson, Chuck Long, Mark Mangino, Jim Donnan, Galen Hall. Sooner history is littered with offensive coordinators who won championships but drew the ire of fans short on memory and football acumen.
Offensive coordinators are easy fall guys. Lose a game, fans lose their patience. Lose two games, fans lose their sanity. Such belief claims that football is like playing Battleship, some sort of guessing game trying to outfox the foe via play-calling.
That's silly, of course. Offensive coordination is about implementing an offense that fits your personnel and implementing a weekly game plan that takes advantage of opponent weakness. Play calling is fun to critique but way overrated.
Make no mistake. Wilson will be missed. He had a fantastic temperament, a creative football mind and the ability to adjust.
Wilson's offenses won four Big 12 titles in five seasons, with three different quarterbacks and at least that many styles of attacks.
Wilson won with a power-I offense in 2006 despite a starting quarterback moved from receiver on Aug. 1 and the loss of Adrian Peterson that October. Wilson won with Sam Bradford and an NFL offensive line, in 2007 by huddling and in 2008 by not huddling. And Wilson won this autumn with a sideways passing game.
Wilson's offenses almost always improved through the season. Whoever Bob Stoops names to replace Wilson â€” Josh Heupel? Jay Norvell? â€” probably will do just fine, but Wilson's standard will be difficult to match.
I don't know if Wilson can win at Indiana. I don't know if anyone can win at Indiana. But he's as good a choice as any to try. Wilson has the background, having coordinated Northwestern offenses, so he knows how to win with lesser talent against Big Ten behemoths.
And we already know Wilson can handle the heat, because the pressure on the head coach at Indiana is not as great as the pressure on the Oklahoma offensive coordinator.
Wilson thrived under great scrutiny. I would rank him second among Stoops' offensive coordinators, behind only Mike Leach, and even ahead of Long, who was big-time. And if Leach had worked in Norman more than one year, his star would have waned to some degree. An offensive coordinator's popularity never has a long shelf life.
But they get noticed. They get the chance to run their own programs.
OU has had 11 defensive coordinators since the Wilkinson era ended with the firing of Gomer Jones.
Of those 11, only four â€” Larry Lacewell (Arkansas State), Gary Gibbs (OU), Charlie Sadler (Northern Illinois) and Mike Stoops (Arizona) â€” became major-college head coaches, although you can't forget Rex Ryan of Jetropolitan fame.
Offensive coordinators at Oklahoma get far more opportunity. Now Kevin Wilson, wildly successful even if oft-criticized, gets his chance at liftoff.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.
The OU launching pad Offensive coordinator became a staff position at OU in 1966. Since then, 12 of the 14 coaches who have held that title have gone to become major-college head coaches: 1966: Homer Rice (Cincinnati 1967-68, 9-10-1 record) 1967-72: Barry Switzer (Oklahoma 1973-88, 157-29-4) 1973-83: Galen Hall (Florida 1984-89, 40-18-1) 1984: Mack Brown (Tulane 1985-87, 11-23; North Carolina 1988-97, 69-46-1; Texas 1998-10, 133-34) 1985-89: Jim Donnan (Marshall 1990-95, 64-21; Georgia 1996-00, 40-19) 1990-92: Larry Coker (Miami 2001-06, 60-15) 1993-94: Watson Brown (Alabama-Birmingham 1995-06, 62-74) 1995: Gary Nord (Texas-El Paso 2000-03, 14-34) 1996-97: Dick Winder 1998: Joe Dickinson 1999: Mike Leach (Texas Tech 2000-09, 84-43) 2000-01: Mark Mangino (Kansas 2002-09, 50-48) 2002-05: Chuck Long (San Diego State 2006-08, 9-27) 2006-10: Kevin Wilson (Indiana 2011).