STILLWATER — Mike Gundy again finds himself looking for an offensive coordinator after Todd Monken took the head coaching job at Southern Miss, a hiring that will officially be announced Tuesday.
But based on recent history, Gundy should have no problem finding a suitable replacement.
OSU has become a launching point for the careers of up-and-coming offensive coaches. The Cowboys' last three offensive coordinators — Larry Fedora, Dana Holgorsen and Todd Monken — left Stillwater to become head coaches (or a head-coach-in-waiting) at respectable Division I schools.
But also consider this: Monken's salary this year was $600,000. That means Gundy and OSU also have the money to poach and pay an established coordinator from another staff.
A requirement for any replacement will be running the Air Raid spread offense, the system Gundy has emphasized he is committed to. That means candidates will include coaches with that type of background, or someone like Monken who can come in and learn it quickly.
Here are some early candidates for the job, based on their familiarity with OSU's offensive system.
Lincoln Riley, East Carolina offensive coordinator
Mike Leach and Holgorsen groomed Riley at Texas Tech, first as a student coach, then as a graduate assistant, then as a full-time offensive assistant coach. He was the interim offensive coordinator for the 2010 Alamo Bowl after Leach was fired. In each season at ECU, Riley's unit has ranked in the top 35 in the nation in passing offense. And he hasn't reached the age of 30 yet.
Seth Littrell, Indiana offensive coordinator
Littrell spent four seasons at Texas Tech, where he coached under Leach, Holgorsen and Sonny Dykes. Littrell then worked under Dykes at Arizona in 2009, before being elevated to co-offensive coordinator and then offensive coordinator after Dykes left to become the head coach at Louisiana Tech. He's a Muskogee native and played at Oklahoma.
Chris Hatcher, Murray State head coach
A Hal Mumme disciple, Hatcher's version of the Air Raid — appropriately dubbed the “Hatch Attack” — ranks in the top 5 in the Football Championship Subdivision in total offense (484.36 yards per game), scoring offense (39.18 points per game) and passing offense (348.91 yards per game).
Bob Stitt, Colorado School of the Mines head coach
Considered one of the brightest offensive football minds at any level, Stitt and Holgorsen have exchanged philosophies over the years.
Jason Phillips, SMU co-offensive coordinator
Phillips spent nine seasons at Houston, including Holgorsen's two-year stint. He was the co-offensive coordinator under Holgorsen in 2008-09, then became the offensive coordinator when Holgorsen left for OSU.
Kliff Kingsbury, Texas A&M offensive coordinator
Probably a stretch, given that Kingsbury is a candidate for head coaching jobs, most notably at his alma mater, Texas Tech. And if that doesn't work out, he could return to College Station and continue to direct an offense run by Heisman winner Johnny Manziel.