Though most college football fans, and even Tech fans for that matter, think that a spread offense has always been the norm, it wasn't always the case. And if we are quite honest, the rise of major programs running the spread has only happened in the last 10 years.
Everyone may point to baseball as an "old school, never changing, unimaginative sport", but football is very much the same. For years and years, both college and pro, believed in a run first, pass second mindset and always... always out of a two-back, two-wide formation. When Hal Mumme came to Kentucky, he brought an offensive collaborator with him as offensive coordinator, by the name of Mike Leach. Kentucky's offensive scheme was something most had never seen in D-1 football before. The Spread.
The Spread attacked defenses like never before. Consistently putting a minimum of 4 wide receivers on the field created match-up nightmares for the secondary's of SEC teams and for the first time, the country saw what would become a normal QB line for a season: 430-601 for 4,611 yards and 38 TD's. Mike Leach would leave the next year for the University of Oklahoma propelling the rise of the Oklahoma we know today and in 2000 started his career at Texas Tech.
Though the Spread may have gotten headlines in the late 90's at Kentucky and Oklahoma, Texas Tech was going to be the engine of change in college football. From 2000 to 2009, Texas Tech continually put up some of the most vaunted offensive numbers in the history of college football, and would affectionately become known as "The Air Raid". For National Championship hopefuls, Oklahoma and Texas, it was always a time to worry when the schedule had them going to Lubbock. Knowing that the Air Raid put 70 on the Nebraksa "Black Shirts" and even defensive genius Gary Patterson's TCU.
So to put it altogether, let's take a look at coaches that had some time at Tech since 2000 and are now shaping other programs today.
Sonny Dykes (2000-2006), Currently: CAL Head Coach
Dykes, the son of legendary Tech coach Spike Dykes and Texas Tech grad, got his coaching start in 2000 as the WR coach. Learning the ins and outs of the Air Raid and eventually being promoted to Co-Offensive Coordinator from 04-06. Beginning in 2007, Dykes was hired by Arizona University as their Offensive Coordinator and QB coach and held that position thru 2009. In 2010, Dykes took the head coaching job at Louisiana Tech where he drastically improved the team and was WAC Coach of the Year in 2011. His success at Louisiana Tech landed him the Head Coaching job at the University of California who were looking for a more offensive minded coach. Though struggling, California uses a version of the Air Raid that consistently puts up yards and points.
Dana Holgorsen (2000-2007), Currently: West Virginia Head Coach
Holgorsen started like many coaches as a WR coach, specifically inside recievers. He was also promoted to Co-offensive coordinator in 2005 and offensive coordinator in 2007. In 2008, he left Tech to go to the University of Houston for the same position (where he would also give Kliff Kingsbury his coaching start). He stayed at the University of Houston for two years putting Houston on the map under then Head Coach, Kevin Sumlin and helped Case Keenum become the all-time leader in total offense for D1 football. In 2010, he took the OC job at Oklahoma State under current head coach Mike Gundy. Gundy who was known for offense, but never quite had the same success offensively until Holgorsen arrived. Coincidentally, Mike Leach had been fired from Tech in December of 2009 and was asked by Holgorsen to come help install the Air Raid offense. Not only did Leach agree, but also brought NFL free agent and Tech legend, Graham Harrell to help mentor Brandon Weeden. After just one year at Oklahoma State, Holgorsen was hired as West Virginia's Head Coach where he currently serves.
Next week we will continue down the coaching tree and see just how far Tech's influence has spread.