Grambling State and Hue Jackson are now forced to abruptly pivot and quickly identify an offensive coordinator to replace the departed Art Briles after he resigned Tuesday due to a wave of unbridled criticism levied at the program in recent days.
Grambling is a high-profile job and should attract quality candidates and interest from assistants and playcallers around the country. HBCU Sports reached out to John Brice with Football Scoop to gauge who might be possibilities.
Among the candidates Brice first identified was Jackson State offensive assistant TC Taylor. Taylor, who returned to this alma mater to join the offensive staff in 2019, was named interim head coach when the school parted ways with then-head coach John Hendrick.
Taylor was considered a strong candidate for the job before the school ultimately hired Deion Sanders. This past fall, Sanders named Taylor the team’s offensive coordinator. Since taking over in that role, the Tigers offense averaged nearly 40 points per game down the stretch.
Another a possible candidate that Jackson could be a fit, said Brice, is former NFL quarterback Jeff Blake. Blake played 14 seasons in the NFL, throwing for 21,711 yards, with 134 touchdown passes, and 99 interceptions. Though he does not possess team-related coaching experience, Blake, 51, is currently the Director of the QB Academy at IMG.
“We know Hue Jackson has a tremendous rolodex on his desk, and he can reach out and make those calls to NFL guys seeing more of their former professional colleagues dipping into the college ranks,” said Brice. I don’t think you can rule that out (an ex-NFL coach). I do think that … are there people off the Art Briles tree, off the Dino Babers tree (he could consider)?”
But Jackson, instead of going the pro route to hire that covenant assistant, could stay on the HBCU trail. After all, he did name Ted White offensive coordinator before he joined the Houston Texans coaching staff under new head coach Lovie Smith.
One name to consider is Alcorn State wide receivers coach and former Mississippi Gulf Coast offensive coordinator Jason Phillips.
“He’s done a lot of the RPO stuff and incorporated some of the odd (formation) sets that Art Briles, Jeff Lebby and Kendal Briles have used in their system,” said Brice. “We’ve seen that from Alcorn in recent years as he’s gotten more involved in that offense.”
Then there are lesser known names such as East Central University (Okla.) assistant head coach and offensive coordinator Kris McCullough and former McNeese State tight ends coach and current LSU assistant Derek Shay.
Grambling undoubtedly needs to move quickly on a hire with spring football practice quickly approaching. The program also would have to consider the compensation package required take to land an offensive coordinator. According to Brice’s sources, the school is prepared to invest a six-figure annual salary into the position.
“Hue Jackson — his name recognition, his credibility — you can’t think about this opening in conventional terms with him going after Art Briles,” he said. “This database is huge and they (coach) will answer the phone when he calls.”