Missouri hired Utah State offensive coordinator Josh Heupel as its new offensive coordinator Thursday. He replaces Josh Henson, who was not retained after Barry Odom was hired this month as the Tigers’ 32nd football coach.
“I’m really pleased to have someone the caliber of Josh Heupel join our staff,” Odom said in a release announcing the hire. “I’ve known him for a long time and have always respected him highly, as a player, a coach, a recruiter and a coordinator. I’ve been impressed by the offenses that he runs, they’re very difficult to defend.”
Heupel, 37, is a native of Aberdeen, S.D., but he played two seasons at Oklahoma after one-year detours to Weber State and Snow College, a prominent junior college, in Utah.
Missouri fans probably remember Heupel as the consensus All-American quarterback and Heisman Trophy runner-up who led the Sooners to a national title in 2000. In 2004, Heupel entered coaching as a graduate assistant with the Sooners under Bob Stoops.
Never miss a local story.
Heupel spent 2005 as Arizona’s tight ends coach before returning to Oklahoma as the quarterbacks coach from 2006-2010, helping groom Heisman winner and eventual No. 1 pick Sam Bradford as well as Landry Jones.
Before the 2011 season, Heupel was promoted to co-offensive coordinator, but he was fired in January 2015 and joined the Utah State Aggies a few weeks later.
Utah State is 6-6 this season, including a 51-28 loss against BYU, and is slated to play Akron at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise on ESPN. He will join the Mizzou staff after coaching in that game.
“I am very grateful to Coach Odom for this opportunity,” Heupel said in the release. “I have a lot of respect for Mizzou and the football program, as someone who’s seen it from an outsider’s perspective for a long time. I believe this is a special place that has just scratched the surface of what it can be, and it’s a program that is capable of winning championships on a consistent basis.”
The Aggies, who dealt with a rash of quarterback injuries, rank 60th in the nation in scoring offense at 29.7 points, but only 92nd in total offense, managing 370.8 yards per game.
Oklahoma ranked fifth, 12th, 52nd and 24th nationally in total offense during Heupel’s four seasons as co-offensive coordinator. During that same span, the Sooners were 10th, 15th, 40th and 21st in scoring offense.
Heupel and his wife, Dawn, have a son, Jace, and a daughter, Hannah.
His new boss, Odom, 39, has a strong defensive background, but targeting an offensive coordinator was critical toward helping the Tigers rebound from a bowl-free 5-7 campaign.
During Odom’s first season as defensive coordinator, Missouri’s defense ranked sixth in the nation in scoring defense and ninth in total defense, but the Tigers’ 280.9 yards per game on offense were the fewest in the Southeastern Conference by nearly 50 yards (Vanderbilt averaged 326.5) and only ahead of Boston College, Kent State and Central Florida among 128 Football Bowl Subdivision teams.
Henson — a Tuttle, Okla., native and former Oklahoma State offensive lineman, who also coached the Cowboys and came to Columbia from LSU — had been Missouri’s offensive coordinator for the last three seasons. The Tigers ranked 13th in scoring offense at 39.1 points per game during his first season, but steadily declined to 73rd last season (27.8) and 127th this season (13.6). Only 3-9 Kent State, which was shut out three times, was worse, averaging 13.1 points per game.
Missouri did not announce any other staff updates. The Star previously reported that Odom will retain lead Kansas City recruiter Andy Hill, primary St. Louis recruiter Cornell Ford and Ryan Walters from Pinkel’s 2015 staff. Walters followed Odom from Memphis during the offseason.
With Heupel coaching quarterbacks, Hill will return to coaching wide receivers, a position he coached from 1996-2012 at Missouri. Ford will shift from cornerbacks to running backs, according to Power Mizzou.
Last season’s offensive line coach, A.J. Ricker, and wide receivers coach, Pat Washington, will not return next season. Running backs coach Brian Jones and defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski aren’t expected to be retained, either.
Ricker reportedly will return to Illinois, where he coached before coming to Missouri in July 2014.
Strength and conditioning coach Pat Ivey indicated Dec. 6 that he would return next season, but multiple reports surfaced Thursday that he will not be back.