At last, it’s official: No more Joe Craddock as Arkansas’ offensive coordinator.
No more wondering “What in the world are those coaches thinking?” when watching an Arkansas offense lurch and sputter down the field.
Today, new Arkansas coach Sam Pittman made one of his two most important hires by replacing Craddock with Kendal Briles. Briles enters the job bringing a wealth of Power 5 experience, which was not the case with Craddock.
Briles has led offenses at Florida State, Houston, Florida Atlantic and Baylor. Since taking over play-calling duties prior to the Cotton Bowl at the end of the 2014 season, when his Baylor offense set an NCAA bowl record with 601 passing yards against Michigan State, Briles’ offenses have averaged 39.5 points per game.
“We are very excited to have Kendal, his wife Sarah and their three children join us at Arkansas, they will be a welcomed addition to the football family we are building,” Pittman said. “Kendal brings an innovative offensive approach to our coaching staff. His offenses have been successful by both running and throwing the football in some of the nation’s most competitive conferences. He is well known for his ability to both recruit and develop young men into outstanding football players.”
Kendal Briles’ Salary
Arkansas will pay Briles $1 million per season. His deal is for one season, but could be extended for two more seasons “upon the recommendation’ of Pittman and “written approval” of Hunter Yurachek, according to HawgBeat’s Andrew Hutchinson.
Pittman’s new defensive coordinator, Barry Odom, will make $1.2 million annually. This means Arkansas will be one of the few college football programs paying two assistants at least a million dollars each.
Hutchinson reported that the only known schools doing that in 2019 were: Alabama, Clemson, Michigan, South Carolina and Tennessee. Those numbers were obtained from a USA Today database with salary information for 105 of 130 FBS coaching staffs.
At Florida State, Briles took over a struggling offense that ranked 103rd in total offense (361.2 ypg) and 113th in scoring (21.9 ppg) in 2018. In his lone season with the Seminoles, he engineered an offense that improved greatly in both categories by racking up 403.2 yards per game and scoring 29.1 points per game.
The Noles’ running game saw the biggest improvement going from one of the worst in the FBS (91.1 ypg) in 2018 to 133.8 yards per game this season. The FSU offense also saw huge turnarounds in the red zone (78.1% in 2018, 86.5% in 2019) and third down conversions (29.1% in 2018, 37.5% in 2019).
Briles called one of the most explosive offenses in the nation in 2018 at Houston, ranking in the top 10 in both total offense (7th – 512.5 ypg) and points per game (5th – 43.9 ppg). The Cougars were one of just three teams to rank in the top 25 nationally in passing and rushing, averaging 295.5 yards (16th in FBS) through the air and 216.8 yards (24th) on the ground.
Learn more about why Briles’ offenses are so devastating here:
Houston’s offense was explosive, scoring at least 30 points in each of the first 12 games of the season, including a NCAA-leading 10 games of at least 40 points. The offense put points on the board in 47 of 52 quarters and opened the year with a program-best eight straight games of 40-plus points. The Cougars had 42 scoring drives of less than two minutes and ranked fifth in the country with 92 plays of 20-plus yards with the offense’s 44 plays of at least 30 yards ranking seventh in the nation.
Briles coordinated the offense at FAU in 2017 helping the Owls to the sixth-best rushing attack in the FBS with 285.3 yards per game. The same offense ranked eighth nationally with 40.6 points per game and ninth in total offense with 498.4 yards per game. The Owls’ offense helped lead the program to its first Conference USA championship and an 11-3 record, including a win in the Boca Raton Bowl.
Briles spent the first nine years of his coaching career at Baylor helping the Bears to unprecedented success, including back-to-back Big 12 titles. He served in numerous roles for the Bears as the inside wide receivers coach, passing game coordinator and recruiting coordinator before taking over as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for his final two seasons in Waco. His recruiting efforts were recognized in 2013 and 2014 as the Big 12’s Recruiter of the Year.
Kendall Briles’ recruiting ties to Texas will prove invaluable to the Razorbacks’ efforts to keep the pipeline that Chad Morris opened there flowing.
After an outstanding career as a high school quarterback in Texas, Briles played at Texas and at Houston. He was inducted into the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame in 2014. He and his wife Sarah have three children: sons, Jaytn and Kru, and daughter, Kinley.
Briles joins defensive coordinator Barry Odom, cornerbacks coach Sam Carter, offensive line coach Brad Davis, linebackers coach Rion Rhoades and wide receivers coach Justin Stepp on Pittman’s initial staff.
How will his style mesh with Pittman’s? Watch the below for that analysis:
Finally, see what Briles could do for the Hogs’ top tailback in my latest post: