It didn’t take long for Sam Pittman to zero in on a replacement for Kendal Briles, landing Dan Enos as his new offensive coordinator.
The same day news broke that Arkansas football was losing Briles to TCU, reports surfaced that the fourth-year head coach would reunite with Enos, hiring him away from his current post at Maryland.
ESPN’s Chris Low was first to report the news Wednesday night and Arkansas made it official Thursday morning. Interestingly enough, the Razorbacks announced their hire before TCU announced the hire of Briles.
That should be a familiar name to Arkansas fans, as Enos spent three seasons as the Razorbacks’ offensive coordinator under former head coach Bret Bielema from 2015-17.
Enos, who came to Fayetteville after a five-year run as the head coach at Central Michigan, made an immediate impact on Arkansas’ offense.
Armed with numerous players that eventually reached the NFL, the Razorbacks saw their scoring tick up from 31.9 to 35.9 points per game and their yardage skyrocket from 406.0 to 465.5 per game in 2015. They also averaged 6.8 yards per play, which is still second only to the 2010 offense (7.1) in UA history.
Quarterback Brandon Allen and running back Alex Collins enjoyed historic individual seasons that year, while Hunter Henry won the Mackey Award as the country’s top tight end and left guard Sebastian Tretola won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the top offensive lineman in the SEC. In addition to those four players, tight end Jeremy Sprinkle, right guard Frank Ragnow, right tackle Dan Skipper and left tackle Denver Kirkland were either drafted or played in the NFL.
There was a dip in production in Year 2 under Enos, but Austin Allen played well in his first year as the starter, and then his third season was marred by injuries to Allen and star running back Rawleigh Williams III, resulting in a 4-8 season that ended with Bielema being fired.
Half a decade later, he’s back in Fayetteville. So, what has Enos been up to since the end of the 2017 season? Here’s a refresher…
Short Stop in Home State
Dan Enos didn’t need much time to find another job when Bielema was fired. He quickly landed a gig back in his home state, as he was named an offensive assistant by Jim Harbaugh at Michigan.
The move made a lot of sense for him because he grew up in Dearborn, Mich., played quarterback at Michigan State and coached at four different schools in the state, not to mention numerous other stops in the midwest.
Enos was set to make a base salary of $150,000 as a wide receivers coach, but his contract included an automatic raise to $750,000 if he added “coordinator” to his title, according to MLive.com.
That opportunity never came because just six weeks after taking the job, Enos left to take a spot on Alabama’s coaching staff.
Controversial Exit from the Nick Saban Coaching Rehab
In addition to all of the national titles he’s won and NFL Draft picks he’s produced, Nick Saban also has an incredible reputation for his “coaching rehab” program in Tuscaloosa. Dan Enos probably doesn’t fit that category, as he didn’t exactly crash and burn prior to his arrival, but there’s no doubt it was an opportunity to relaunch his career.
He didn’t get a coordinator role with the Crimson Tide, but he was tasked with coaching one of the most loaded quarterback rooms in college football history.
Jalen Hurts was back for his third season after being named SEC Offensive Player of the Year as a freshman in 2016 and helping Alabama reach the national title in 2017, but Tua Tagovailoa took over the starting job. Enos is widely credited with keeping the pair happy, opening the door for Hurts’ heroics in the SEC Championship Game that year.
The room also included a redshirt freshman named Mac Jones. He and Tagovailoa each became top-15 picks in the NFL Draft, while Hurts slipped to the second round. All three eventually finished top-3 in Heisman Trophy voting and are starters in the NFL. (That doesn’t even include walk-on Layne Hatcher, a Little Rock native who went on to rack up a lot of yards in the Sun Belt.)
Saban was so impressed by how Enos handled everything that he promoted him to offensive coordinator when Mike Locksley left to become the head coach at Maryland. However, that’s when things went sideways and exactly what happened depends on whom you ask.
A report by The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman claimed that Enos randomly didn’t show up to a staff meeting one morning, leading the legendary coach to ask his staff, “Where the F#$% is Dan?!?”
It turned out that he had left Tuscaloosa to become the offensive coordinator at Miami (Fla.) rather than remain at Alabama. “He moved out like the Colts,” an anonymous source told Feldman, referring to the NFL franchise moving from Baltimore to Indianapolis in the middle of the night.
Enos disputed the details of his departure with a tweet.
“I would never leave an employer without telling them I was doing so,” Enos wrote. “No ghosting here. Nothing but respect for (Saban) and Alabama. Bottom line, business is business and it was time for me to exit.”
In response to that tweet, Aaron Suttles — who has covered the Crimson Tide for multiple outlets over the years — said the original reporting of the timing of his departure was accurate.
“No one begrudges him leaving,” Suttles wrote. “Everyone has a right to pursue whatever employment opportunities they want. We can debate ghosting and what it means, but Enos absolutely cleaned out his office after everyone was gone and didn’t show up the next day for the staff meeting.”
Disastrous Stint on South Beach
Regardless of the nature of his exit from Tuscaloosa, Dan Enos ended up taking his talents to South Beach to be the offensive coordinator for Manny Diaz at Miami (Fla.).
Unfortunately for him, it proved to be a disastrous season for the Hurricanes. They ended the year on a 3-game losing streak with losses to Florida International, Duke and Louisiana Tech — the latter of which was a 14-0 shutout in the Independence Bowl. That was his final game at Miami, as he was fired the next day.
The Hurricanes averaged just 25.7 points on 367.2 yards that season, which ranked 90th and 98th in the FBS, respectively. They were particularly bad on third down, converting just 27.2% of the time — a figure that ranked 129th out of 130 teams.
Of course, it’s worth noting that Enos didn’t exactly inherit an offensive juggernaut. Miami (Fla.) averaged just 28.8 points (66th in FBS) and 358.8 yards (105th) the year before he arrived.
He was also working with a quarterback room that featured Jarren Williams, N’Kosi Perry and Tate Martell — all three of whom eventually transferred down to the Group of Five level.
Success as Position Coach at Cincinnati
Dan Enos’ next stop was at Cincinnati, but — like at Alabama — without a coordinator title. He was an associate head coach, but was specifically tasked with coaching the running backs.
As a team, the Bearcats enjoyed one of their best seasons in school history, going 9-0 in the pandemic-shorted regular season and earning a date with Georgia in the Peach Bowl. They came up just short, losing 24-21, but it set the stage for their historic run to the College Football Playoff the following year.
Cincinnati saw a minor uptick in its rushing totals, going from 208.0 to 212.4 yards per game, but jumped up close to a full yard in terms of yards per carry. The Bearcats ranked 46th nationally at 4.73 yards per carry in 2019 and then 10th at 5.57 yards per carry under Enos.
Granted, a chunk of that success is a credit to dual-threat quarterback Desmond Ridder, but the running backs were also solid despite not having a star at the position. Gerrid Doaks ran for 673 yards and seven touchdowns and Jerome Ford had 483 yards and eight touchdowns as the two primary ball carriers at running back.
Coaching Another Tagovailoa
After just one year at Cincinnati, Dan Enos landed another offensive coordinator gig, reuniting with Mike Locksley at Maryland.
Despite the fact that Locksley is an offensive-minded coach, his first two seasons with the Terrapins were a struggle on that side of the ball. They ranked 94th and 97th nationally in scoring at 25.3 and 23.6 points per game, respectively, and 109th and 54th nationally in yardage at 343.4 and 409.0 per game, respectively.
That led to him making a change and bringing in Enos, whose numbers haven’t exactly jumped off the page, but have been an improvement. He was actually better in 2021, as Maryland averaged 29.3 points (57th in FBS) on 441.1 yards (31st), than he was this past season, when it averaged 28.2 points (67th) on 401.2 yards (55th).
It’s worth noting that those numbers have come in the defensive-minded Big Ten and were good enough for fourth in the conference both years.
Perhaps most importantly, Enos has played a key role in the development of Taulia Tagovailoa — Tua’s younger brother. In two seasons under his tutelage, Tagovailoa has completed 68.2% of his passes and eclipsed 3,000 yards each year, including a school-record 3,860 yards in 2021. He also has 44 touchdowns to only 19 interceptions and has added six more scores on the ground.
With another year of eligibility remaining, he’s already the Terrapins’ career record holder for passing yards, completions, completion percentage, touchdown passes and total offense.
No Beef with Sam Pittman
When it first started leaking that Kendal Briles was headed to TCU and Sam Pittman was in the market for a new offensive coordinator, Dan Enos naturally came up.
Despite how the Bret Bielema era ended, he is still remembered fondly by a portion of the fan base and some immediately connected the dots because he and Pittman were on the same offensive coaching staff in 2015.
However, there were rumors that the two didn’t get along and that the clash may have been a contributing factor in Pittman’s decision to leave for Georgia. Those rumors apparently have no merit and were actually shot down by Enos’ wife on Twitter last month — long before there was ever an opening on Arkansas’ staff.
In response to someone mentioning that disconnect, Jane Enos said, “That is absolutely not true.” She later followed up with another Tweet:
As you can see on the timestamp, that comment was many Dec. 3, when Briles was still the offensive coordinator and before he came up as a candidate at Mississippi State and TCU.
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