"Hey, Pep? It's me again." - Harry How
The Cardinal's offensive coordinator is looking at another job - and there are plenty of good options to replace him if he moves on
So it looks like sooner rather than later, Coach Pep will not be wearing Cardinal red and white any more.
The talented offensive coordinator has an interview with the New York Jets today, already interviewed with Virginia Tech, and ex-Bears coach Lovie Smith said he'd hire Pep to be his OC if he was hired to coach an NFL team again.
You don't have to be a genius to figure it out: if a guy is interviewing for a lot of jobs, he's probably looking to find a new job.
The Cardinal would certainly be blessed to have him stick around, but Pep isn't going to be promoted to head coach any time soon, so he's probably looking to find a spot where he has a little more upward mobility.
That's great for him. But it does pose a little bit of a problem for Stanford: What should the Cardinal do if Pep Hamilton leaves?
If Hamilton heads out, there's a good chance that the Cardinal will promote an assistant coach from inside their ranks to take his place - that way the way David Shaw was promoted and that was the way Derek Mason was promoted to defensive coordinator. Therefore, the new offensive coordinator would most likely be Mike Bloomgren, the team's offensive line coach and running game coordinator, or Mike Sanford, the running backs coach.
Bloomgren is already involved in the play calling - he, Shaw and Hamilton work together to come up with a game plan every week - so the only change for him might be the official designation of "offensive coordinator."
Sanford has been on staff for four years in two different stints (2007-08 and 2011 to now), so it might be the right time for him to move up to a more prominent role on the staff, and he'd be able to fill one of Hamilton's most important roles: quarterbacks coach.
Sanford was a quarterback at Boise State during his playing days (he graduated in ‘05), so it's nice to know that there's an in-house talent who could take over and tutor the quarterbacks. Hamilton's clearly been an excellent asset to both recruiting and coaching this crop of QBs, so it's nice that the Cardinal wouldn't have to change too much around them.
So if Pep does leave, there shouldn't be too big of a transition to worry about. And that's a good thing. But there would be an open position on staff - so which coach should the Cardinal target to fill that spot?
The pistol offense is taking the NFL by storm this year - and I think that offense would compliment Kevin Hogan's skill set extremely well - so perhaps the Card should call former Nevada offensive coordinator Chris Klenakis.
Klenakis left Nevada to be Arkansas' offensive line coach for the past few seasons, but he wasn't retained when Bret Bielema joined the Razorbacks - and he'd be an interesting addition to the staff.
He's clearly qualified for any job on the offensive staff - and the pistol offense clearly works when you have a mobile quarterback - so I think it might be wise for the Cardinal to add his expertise and input to their already-potent attack.
If Klenakis isn't the guy, Shaw can definitely open the job to any candidate. Stanford is an extremely attractive job to any bright coach on the rise, and with Shaw's NFL ties, he could even poach someone from the pro ranks and bring them to the Farm.
So while Pep Hamilton's seat is still filled - for now - there's no reason to worry if the Cardinal's offensive coordinator moves to the Jets or Bears or elsewhere.