The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders have a brand new offensive coordinator. The school has confirmed that California Golden Bears OC Tony Franklin accepted the job as the new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Blue Raiders.
Yes, you read that correctly. Former MTSU offensive coordinator Tony Franklin, a coach that left MTSU after one year for Louisiana Tech and eventually California, is coming back to lead the Blue Raiders offense in 2016.
Let me reword that. An offensive coordinator at a Power Five Conference program is taking the same position at MTSU. He will also be the quarterbacks coach, getting his hands on 2015 freshman phenom Brent Stockstill on a daily basis. That is quite the coup for not only the Blue Raiders, but an enormous hire for the entire conference.
Franklin is a Princeton, Kentucky native that is nearly as well known for his "Tony Franklin System" and offensive consulting work as for his coaching. He is a bit of an offensive whisperer that has seen his system implemented at high school and college programs all over the country.
His offensive system has resulted in over 25 high school programs winning state championships in the last three year.
The 58-year old started his college coaching career at the University of Kentucky, a stop that saw him ascend from running backs coach to offensive coordinator. The Wildcats experienced a resurgence during his time with the program before a nasty break from the school. He wrote a best selling book about the experience.
Out of college football for two years, Franklin spent the 2003 season coaching in the indoor professional football league for the Kentucky Horsemen while also running offensive seminars all over the country.
Finally, Troy made the decision to end Franklin's exile from college football. He was hired in 2006 as the Trojans offensive coordinator. He spent two seasons with the Sun Belt program, turning an offense that was in the 100s nationally into one of the top 20 offenses in the nation. During his time at Troy, Franklin helped lead the Trojans to their first ever FBS bowl win as well as two Sun Belt titles.
Franklin then spent parts of two seasons under Tommy Tuberville at Auburn from 2007-2008, but was fired early in the 2008 season after a 4-2 start. Auburn went 1-5 in the final six games of the season after firing Franklin.
He then spent a single year at MTSU, helping to lead the Blue Raiders to ten wins, a top 25 scoring offense, and a win in the New Orleans bowl. At the time, his experience at MTSU seemed to be just another stop on his way to a dream job.
In 2010, Franklin joined forces with Louisiana Tech head coach Sonny Dykes, leading the Bulldogs to a WAC title in 2011 and one of the best seasons in school history in 2012. Seen as a constant offensive nomad, Franklin made another move after the 2012 season. He followed Dykes to the west coast to coach the Cal Bears offense.
After a poor season in 2013, the Bears suddenly turned into one of the most prolific offenses in the nation. Franklin found a quarterback in Jared Goff and the rest is history. Cal set school records in passing (4,892), passing yards per game (376.3 ypg), passing touchdowns (44), total offense (6,879), total yards per game (529.2 ypg), total touchdowns (63), and first downs (341).
So that leads us back to Murfreesboro. Why would a coach that led one of the best offenses in the nation take off for a previous stop at a Conference USA program?
We may never know the full details (other than moving closer to family) of his decision, but the process took place quickly after Buster Faulkner left for Arkansas State. Almost immediately, Franklin was in touch with Stockstill about the opening and his desire to come closer to home. Dykes, one of Franklin's closest friends, did not stand in the way of letting Franklin go back home.