Missouri has hired Derek Dooley to be its new offensive coordinator.
Dooley, who will also serve as Mizzou’s quarterbacks coach, was the Dallas Cowboys wide receivers coach for the past five seasons.
He has experience in the Southeastern Conference, too. He was head coach at Tennessee for three seasons, going 15-21 from 2010-12 and only reaching one bowl game. Prior to that, he was head coach at Louisiana Tech from 2007-09 and athletic director in 2007 and 2008 while coaching.
Dooley had a number of positions on the assistant coaching staff at LSU under Nick Saban from 2000-03, including running backs and tight ends coach. He began his career as a graduate assistant at Georgia after playing for Virginia.
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He replaces Josh Heupel, who left the program after two seasons to become head coach at Central Florida. At Missouri, Heupel made an annual base salary of $700,000, which made him the highest paid assistant coach in the history of the football program. Missouri will release Dooley’s contract figures at a later date.
Jedd Fisch, the interim coach at UCLA, was also a candidate for Missouri’s job.
“Derek brings tremendous energy, knowledge and experience to our staff,” Missouri football coach Barry Odom said in a statement. “He will do a great job of mentoring our student-athletes in all areas of their lives, and I know he will add great benefit and loyalty to our staff room with his experiences he’s gained over his career. His football knowledge and offensive beliefs are in line with what will make Mizzou very successful. We have a great foundation to build on and along with the rest of the offensive staff we will put our kids in position to be their very best.”
While at Tennessee, Dooley’s last team in 2012 ranked in the top 20 nationally for passing and total offense. When Dooley led the Volunteers to the Music City Bowl in 2010, the team’s passing ranked in the top 30. For total offense that year, they were ranked No. 75.
“I am excited to be a Mizzou Tiger and look forward to helping Coach Odom carry out his vision for the program,” Dooley said in a statement. “I am grateful for this opportunity, and am ready to get to Columbia and go to work.”
Dooley runs a pro style offense, which will be a departure from the way Missouri played under Heupel, who instituted a hybrid of the spread and air raid offenses. Every Mizzou play was from the shotgun, passing plays did not require reading the entire field and runs often stayed within the tackles in order to prevent negative plays.
“I want someone who can take what we’re doing offensively and make us better,” Odom said during bowl practices, when he was still conducting his search for a coordinator. “That’s our goal, and that’s what we’ve got to find a way to get done.”
Missouri’s offense, which averaged the 15th-most points in the country this season, could return as many as nine starters from its Texas Bowl team that finished 7-6.
Only wide receiver J’Mon Moore and running back Ish Witter — who recorded more than 1,000 yards receiving and rushing respectively this season — are gone. Sophomore running back Damarea Crockett, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards as a freshman but missed the final seven games of this season, should return from a shoulder injury. Quarterback Drew Lock, who led the country in touchdown passes with 44, could come back for his senior season or declare for the NFL Draft.
Other top NFL quarterbacks prospects — including Southern California’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson — have already declared, which would seem to make leaving school now less attractive to Lock. The NFL Draft advisory board told Lock, from Lee’s Summit, to return to school, which means it did not grade him as a first- or second-round pick. The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft is Jan. 15.
Lock said before the Texas Bowl that he would wait to see who Missouri hired as offensive coordinator before deciding. He mentioned that he’d like to learn from someone with past NFL experience.
In addition to working with the Cowboys, Dooley spent two seasons as a tight ends coach for the Miami Dolphins. He has never been a quarterbacks coach, nor, prior to this hire, been an offensive coordinator.
“What could I necessarily squeeze out of him?” Lock said last week regarding how the offensive coordinator hire would affect his decision. “What could I learn from him, rather than jumping ahead, possibly missing the opportunity to learn from a great mind that may have been in the NFL, may have coached really good NFL quarterbacks?”
Odom has now filled the openings created by the departures of Heupel, who was also quarterbacks coach, and Glen Elarbee, Mizzou’s offensive line coach who took the same position at Central Florida.
Missouri hired Brad Davis as offensive line coach. The Tigers also added Vernon Hargreaves to coach linebackers — a job on the staff that was open after Odom fired defensive coordinator DeMontie Cross early last season.
Odom still has one more opening. The NCAA passed a ruling in April 2017 that allowed football programs to hire a 10th assistant coach. Some schools, including Clemson and Auburn, have already announced theirs.