News of Walt Bell's acceptance of Maryland's offensive coordinator position broke mere hours before the New Orleans Bowl kickoff, a distraction head coach Blake Anderson would have preferred to avoid. Not that there is any ill-will between the coaches.
Bell leaves a program that set a Sun Belt record for points scored this season. Now the question remains, How do the Red Wolves replace the man who orchestrated the nation's 12th ranked scoring offense?
As of the morning of January 4th, the official word is "there is no word" on Coach Anderson and AD Terry Mohajir's progress, though one of my anonymous sources said that Anderson has been pleased with candidates he's spoken to. We can only speculate. So hey! Let's speculate!
SCENARIO ONE: The Red Wolves Elevate From Within
Loyalty, family and consistency are themes for Coach Anderson's staff, who (until now) have more-or-less remained intact for two seasons, despite the efforts of poachers.* Could Anderson reward loyalty by promoting from within? Is Glen Elarbee, already named co-offensive coordinator (in addition to coaching the offensive line), ready to assume all OC duties? Perhaps Dan Dodd (tight ends coach) or Luke Paschall (wide receivers coach) is up for the challenge?
* Since this column's publication, running backs coach Anthony Tucker has also left A-State to join Walt Bell in Maryland.
SCENARIO TWO: Mohajir Makes A Magic Hire
'Tis the season for coaching staff resignations and dismissals. Could the company of Mohajir & Anderson make a good offer to a coach seeking a fresh start? Former Texas A&M OC Jake Spavital needs a new home. So does former NC State OC Matt Canada, who's especially intriguing considering Anderson's ties to NC State rival, North Carolina. A-State is a program that provides coaches an opportunity to succeed. While the Red Wolves don't necessarily need a superstar on the sideline, it's not as if Mohajir has ever limited himself to the usual pedestrian list of names.
SCENARIO THREE: The Return of Ryan Aplin
Red Wolves fans love three things: 1) Joel Osteen, 2) Olive Garden, and 3) Ryan Aplin. The former A-State signal caller is currently employed by Gus Malzahn as an Offensive GA for Auburn. While the legendary quarterback may not be ready for OC duties, is it conceivable to hire Aplin on as QB Coach (left vacated by Bell) and elevate from within?
SCENARIO FOUR: The Coach Who Never Punts
You've probably heard of this guy, Kevin Kelley, the head coach for Pulaski Academy who never punts. Like, practically never. His approach is all about metrics and stats and testicles and stuff. It's complicated, and it seems to work for him. Arkansans love him. If you saw him on HBO's Real Sports, you know Kelley is jonesing to make the step up. A-State has rolled the dice on high school wunderkins before (SEE: Hugh Freeze and Gus Malzahn). Hiring Kelley would generate some helpful PR and, possibly, add a never-before-seen wrinkle to college football.
SCENARIO FIVE: Some Guy We've Never Heard Of (But Will Talk Ourselves Into Loving)
The most likely scenario, OCs at the G5 level tend to be young guys with the energy for long nights and the wherewithal to meet recruits at remote sections of the planet. Look for Anderson to do his research, and dig up an unfamiliar name but also an undiscovered jewel.