Dear Santa: a Christmas wish list for Mizzou football

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Darren Hellwege, Sports Commentator

The rumor mill crunches away in situations like the one currently facing the Missouri Tigers football program. We know David Yost, the Tigers’ offensive coordinator, is gone. And I’m hearing that Josh Henson, the Tigers’ offensive line coach and another strong recruiter, may be on the way out to join Todd Monken at Southern Mississippi.

Henson is a natural choice to replace Yost with Mizzou. Tiger head coach Gary Pinkel has consistently promoted from within to replace coaches that left in the past, like Dave Christensen, Matt Eberflus, or Barry Odom. Henson’s an offensive coach, and can step right in as recruiting coordinator for M.U., a position he’s held in the past with Oklahoma State and LSU.

But should Monken successfully draw Henson to Southern Miss, it seems almost certain that Pinkel will need to go outside the program to find a new assistant. Here are a few names I’ll throw out. I have no reason to believe any have had official conversation with Pinkel or MU athletic director Mike Alden. This is more a “what if”, wish list type thing. What’s more appropriate at Christmastime?

The first name on the list is already crossed off. Missouri native Jim Chaney, OC under Derek Dooley at Tennessee, made perfect sense for the Tigers, but he obviously also made sense for Bret Bielema, Arkansas’ new head man, and Chaney will be a Razorback.

But there are a few other possibilities to consider:

Harry Hiestand, offensive line coach, Notre Dame
His one year at Mizzou was more than 15 years ago but at least he has some familiarity with the school and community. He has long-time experience successfully coaching the offensive line and that he knows how to win is obvious with the name “Notre Dame.” His two years at Tennessee mean he knows the SEC. He was a game coordinator and offensive coordinator at Cincinnati and was assistant head coach for several years at Illinois.

Trooper Taylor, former assistant, Auburn
Taylor was recently let go with the end of the Gene Chizik regime. He has an impressive resume, is an excellent recruiter, and might bring some very good players with him. He has a reputation of not being the most fastidious when it comes to NCAA rules, and obviously that’s something Mizzou doesn’t (and shouldn’t) tolerate. But one thing I have no doubt of — African American coaches develop this reputation a lot more easily, and lose it a lot more slowly. I take this talk about Taylor with at least a grain of salt, and he’s worth a conversation at least, if recruiting is a priority in this hire.

Danny Hope, former head coach, Purdue
Hope is a long-time offensive line coach in college ball with terms at Oklahoma, Louisville, and several at Purdue. While “mediocrity” might be the best description of his head coaching tenure, he’s a very good assistant. And an awful lot of good coaches have had mediocre teams at Purdue.

G. A. Mangus, quarterbacks coach, South Carolina
Hey, if other schools can poach Mizzou’s staff, it can work both ways, right? One of the top assistants in the SEC, Mangus has been a big success with the passing game at “the other Columbia” and his ties to both USC and Florida make “knows the SEC” more than obvious. His hiring would show recruits, and fans, that MU is serious about bringing in the best and building an SEC winner. Is Mangus willing to leave for a promotion (and, one assumes, more money?)

Philip Montgomery, offensive coordinator (quarterbacks), Baylor
Of course, if you want to talk about coaches from other schools, why not dream big? Montgomery leads the passing game at Baylor and should be at the top of any “must hire” list — the Bears led the NCAA in offense the year AFTER losing Robert Griffin, III. Their passing game coordinator must be hot property too, right? Just one problem—Kendal Briles is, indeed, a hell of a good coach…and his dad, Art, is Baylor’s head coach. Don’t expect he’ll be easy to drag away from Waco.

Tony Petersen, co-offensive coordinator (quarterbacks), Marshall
Speaking of “hard to get”, I wonder if Petersen, whose Marshall offenses are among the nation’s best and who was a good assistant at Iowa State, will leave Marshall, his alma mater.

Jon Embree, former head coach, Colorado
I like this guy. I was a little surprised he didn’t get another chance at Colorado, but in a new conference patience isn’t in abundance. If you’re looking to replace the particular skills of Yost and Henson, consider Embree’s abilities as a tight end coach, and that he’s coached kickers (Yost has been very successful with the Missouri kicking game.) Embree also was passing game coordinator at UCLA.

And finally, how about a wild card??

Mark Mangino, former head coach, Kansas
Yeah, I know — a hated enemy, not to mention the problems that led to his firing at Kansas in spite of being one of the most successful head coaches in the school’s history. Just as recruiting “shortcuts” shouldn’t be put up with at Missouri, neither should the sort of mistreatment of players of which Mangino’s been accused. He’s been out of the game in the last few years as his wife battles cancer, but says he’s ready to return and says he’s “changed.” He was an assistant at Kansas State and Oklahoma, where he won the Frank Broyles Award, given to the nation’s top assistant coach.


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