The University of Southern California must love former Texas Tech quarterbacks.
USC hired former Red Raiders quarterback and North Texas offensive coordinator Graham Harrell for the same position, first reported by The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman late Monday night. The position became open after Kliff Kingsbury left USC to become the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.
Kingsbury was fired as the head coach at Texas Tech after the season, then in a 43-day span, agreed to become USC’s offensive coordinator before darting to the NFL.
Kingsbury and Harrell both played quarterback at Texas Tech under Mike Leach in his Air-Raid system. The similarity led The Los Angeles Times to label Harrell as “a younger version of Kliff Kingsbury.”
UNT was Harrell’s first opportunity as an offensive coordinator. Mean Green coach Seth Littrell was an assistant at Texas Tech during Harrell’s playing days, leading Harrell to become one of Littrell’s first hires.
Harrell made an immediate impact, as the UNT offense jumped from averaging 15.2 points a game the season before his arrival to 24.8 that first year. The Mean Green averaged 34.6 points this past season.
UNT quarterback Mason Fine arrived to campus the same time as Harrell and started as a freshman. Harrell, who also served as quarterbacks coach, helped mold Fine from an under-sized recruit with only one FBS offer to UNT’s all-time leading passer. With one season left, Fine will enter 2019 with the most career passing yards among all returning quarterbacks with 9,417.
Harrell is UNT’s second coach lost on the offensive side this offseason. Running backs coach Tashard Choice now has the same position at Georgia Tech, his alma-mater.
Harrell was a hot commodity this offseason, as his name was also mentioned during North Carolina and Oklahoma State’s offensive coordinator searches before ultimately ending up at USC.