First, a hearty congratulations to Alabama’s offensive coordinator, Mike Locksley. Today, the Washington DC native was named the Broyles award winner, given annually to the nation’s top assistant coach:
A team once defined by its defense now torched its opponents through the air, bombarding them with quick strikes. As the Tide rolled to a 13-0 record, it produced 47.9 points per game — the second-highest average in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Alabama also generated 93 plays of 20-plus yards. Only Oklahoma — the Tide’s opponent in the College Football Playoff semifinal round — had more.
This is not the first time Alabama has had a Broyles winner, much less nominee — Kirby Smart won the award, Jeremy Pruitt and Lane Kiffin were both finalists. But, it is the first time that an offensive coach for the Tide has hauled in the hardware. It was well-deserved for a man who helped oversee the Tide’s evolution the past two seasons into a pro-spread unit that distributed the ball to its wealth of elite talent.
But, see that first ‘graf up there, “D.C. native?” Therein lies the rub. After serving a three-year penance at Nick Saban’s Second Chance Home for Wayward Coaches, Locks did pick up the long-rumored job offered from his Dream Job (tm), the Maryland Terrapins.
It would be a homecoming of sorts for Locksley. He was the offensive coordinator of the Terrapins from 2012-15 under Randy Edsall, and served as the interim coach after Edsall was fired midway through the 2015 season. Prior to Maryland, he spent two-and-a-half seasons as the coach at New Mexico where he went 2-26. A former defensive back at Towson State in Towson, Maryland, Locksley grew up in nearby Washington, D.C.
In some ways, it was a surprise, given Locksley’s disastrous tenure at New Mexico and some off-the-field issues that included assaulting an assistant coach. Given why Maryland was even in the market for a coach, that baggage seemed to be a demerit against him. But, his demonstrable on-field production at Alabama, learning how to manage a program under the best to ever do it, and his well-documented recruiting excellence, pushed him over the top — He was apparently always the first choice with the boosters who matter the most: those with the deep pockets.
Locksley will reportedly be staying on through the Tide’s playoff run. But, it is to the long-term we need to now look.
It is no secret that as good as Coach Locks has been, high-energy WR Coach and uber recruiter Josh Gattis, and QB Coach / Assoc. HC Dan Enos have perhaps been more instrumental in developing the talent on this team.
Among all players in the SEC with more than 50 attempts, Tua Tagovailoa (202.70) and Jalen Hurts (202.39) are first and second in QBR. Jalen Hurts’ throws on Saturday don’t happen without Dan Enos. Biletnikoff finalist, Jerry Jeudy, who was always capable of being a five-tool player, does not have his break-out season and become the polished super star that he is without Gattis. It is no coincidence that Jaylen Waddle, Jerry Jeudy, DeVonta Smith, Henry Ruggs III are literally 2nd-through-5th in yards per catch — and Irv Smith Jr. is 7th. Clean, crisp routes both have that effect and are taken for granted this season (one reason Saturday’s game was such an anomaly.)
Several teams are already coming after Pete Golding, who has turned down Ole Miss (with Oklahoma rumored to be next.) But these two coaches, both young, excellent recruiters with outstanding production, are must-keep, critical cogs in an Alabama coaching machine that has seen nearly-100% attrition in the last two years.
Congratulations to Coach Locksley again — both of today’s honors were earned, no doubt. But it’s time to open the piggy bank for Enos and Gattis.