Is it possible stealing Wren Baker from North Texas may now mean losing a coach to the Mean Green?
Soon after news broke of Baker advancing his career by becoming the athletic director at West Virginia, North Texas fans learned their program would be dealing with an entire overhaul well beyond just losing an athletic director. Seth Littrell, who arrived just before Baker did in Denton, Texas back in 2016, was fired. Littrell led North Texas to six bowl appearances and two trips to the Conference USA title game, but failing to win any of those big games meant the Group of 5 program was looking for someone else to take them to the next level. Is that person current WVU offensive coordinator Graham Harrell?
Harrell’s arrival in Morgantown last offseason sparked high expectations, especially when his hire caught the eye of former top prospect quarterback JT Daniels. Adding Harrell then led to Daniels deciding to transfer to WVU as well. Fast forward to the present day, and after a rough 5-7 season for the Mountaineers that saw Daniels eventually lose his stating role to Garrett Greene, reports indicate he will be transferring yet again.
Regardless of the struggles of WVU as a team, and even the offense at times, Harrell is still widely viewed as a strong offensive mind and an up and a rising up and comer in the coaching ranks. At just 37-years-old, Harrell body of work offensively coupled with his age and ability to relate to the current player by having done on the field not too long ago.
The connection to North Texas, a solid Group of 5 job with resources, mostly thanks to Baker’s tenure as AD, is an obvious one. Harrell spent three years in Denton as North Texas’ offensive coordinator at the beginning of Littrell’s run. The current WVU OC’s time represents the peak of the recent era, going 23-17 overall from 2016 to 2018 after inheriting a 1-11 team, including an 8-1 stretch in 2017 and a 6-1 start to the 2018 season with a blowout win over Arkansas. Harrell then left North Texas to take over the OC role at USC, guiding the Trojans offense for two seasons before joining the Mountaineers.
It also feels like it’s only a matter of time for Harrell to receive a head coach opportunity since it’s become a recent trend at the college and pro level to hire an offensive guru under 40. To Harrell’s credit, he runs a balanced attack, not often seen from coaches who have served under Mike Leach in some capacity. Harrell learned from Leach as a player while quarterback at Texas Tech.
If Harrell does get the call from North Texas and accepts the chance to be a head coach, the Mountaineers will be back on the search, this time for a new offensive coordinator.
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