- Jake Trotter, ESPN Staff Writer
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Programs across the Big 12 weren’t shy about making aggressive assistant coaching hires during the offseason to improve their teams.
And nobody was more aggressive than Gary Patterson. The TCU head coach brought in Houston offensive coordinator Doug Meacham, then plucked Texas Tech’s Sonny Cumbie away from his alma mater. Together Meacham and Cumbie, who were both part of successful offenses last season, have been charged with installing a no-huddle, up-tempo attack at TCU, which has ranked eighth in scoring offense its first two seasons in the Big 12.
The Horned Frogs, however, aren’t the only ones that will be relying heavily on new assistants to make a significant and immediate impact.
Paul Rhoads tabbed Mark Mangino to run the Iowa State offense after the Cyclones finished 90th nationally in scoring last season. Mangino had been away from coaching in the FBS for four years. But he also took Kansas to the Orange Bowl, coordinated a national championship offense at Oklahoma, and was an assistant during the Manhattan Miracle years at Kansas State.
Kansas, the only Big 12 team the Cyclones outscored last season, also made a coordinator change offensively. After serving on Mangino's staff at Kansas, John Reagan spent the past four seasons at Rice -- the past three as offensive coordinator. Under his guidance, the Owls averaged more than 420 yards and 30 points last season and boasted one of the top rushing offenses in the nation as the Owls captured the Conference USA championship.
Like Patterson did with Cumbie, first-year Texas coach Charlie Strong dipped in conference to boost his offensive staff, swiping offensive line coach Joe Wickline away from Oklahoma State. Under Wickline, the Cowboys annually featured one of the most effective offensive lines in college football, ranking in the top 15 nationally in scoring the last four seasons despite starting four different quarterbacks.
Dana Holgorsen coordinated the 2010 Oklahoma State offense before taking the head job at West Virginia. But under Holgorsen, the Mountaineers have struggled defensively, and he’s hoping the addition of Tom Bradley to his defensive staff will help remedy that. Bradley was a Joe Paterno assistant for more than three decades at Penn State and coached in 26 bowl games and on two national championship teams. As defensive coordinator from 2004-09, Bradley led the Nittany Lions to six straight top-15 finishes nationally in total and scoring defense.
The fans bases of West Virginia, Texas, Kansas, Iowa State and TCU have good reason to be excited about the assistant hires their programs made.
Now, we put it to you via our weekly Big 12 poll -- which hire was best?