Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples recently caught up with new Texas A&M offensive coordinator Jake Spavital, a name Oklahoma State fans know from his one season as a graduate assistant under former offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen. Spavital first linked up with Holgorsen at Houston, then moved on to West Virginia with him as the quarterbacks coach following the brief stint at OSU. This offseason, he was hired to coordinate Johnny Manziel’s offense.
It’s a rapid ascension for a guy who hasn’t reached the age of 30 yet. But in the piece, Spavital spoke about how, because OSU’s staff was full when Holgorsen was hired, the only person he could bring with him to Stillwater was a GA. That meant Spavital, at 24 years old, was the one helping Holgorsen teach the Air Raid spread offense to the Cowboy assistant coaches.
Here’s the entire passage about that season at OSU:
The long hours (as at Houston) paid off after the 2009 season when Oklahoma State hired Holgorsen to run its offense when head coach Mike Gundy ceded play-calling duties. The only catch? Holgorsen couldn’t take any assistants with him. The Cowboys’ staff was full. “He could only take a GA,” Spavital said. “So he took me.”
Because Spavital knew the offense better than anyone in Stillwater except Holgorsen, Spavital had to help Holgorsen teach the scheme to the players and the other assistant coaches. That made for some awkward moments as the 24-year-old Spavital taught concepts to accomplished assistants. Heck, even the quarterback, former Minor League Baseball player Brandon Weeden, was older than Spavital. “I became a better coach, because I had to be smart,” Spavital said. “I had to know what I was talking about, because I’d get called out immediately if I didn’t.” Spavital remains grateful to Weeden and veteran Cowboys offensive line coach Joe Wickline for understanding the situation and making sure the install ran smoothly. Running Holgorsen’s offense, Oklahoma State shredded Big 12 defenses in 2010, and Holgorsen was tapped to be the next head coach at West Virginia. He brought Spavital as his quarterbacks coach.
Talk about learning from your co-workers — Spavital was also on staff with Gus Malzahn at Tulsa and with new Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury at Houston — and then seizing your opportunity.
Next, he’ll try to keep the Johnny Football Magic going.