Back by overwhelming demand, FootballScoop will once again examine the assistant coaching hires that will have the biggest impact on the college football season and the coaching job market in the 2019 season and beyond.
Who: Bodie Reeder, North Texas
Title: Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach
Previous stop: Eastern Washington offensive coordinator (2017-18)
Why he’s important: Timing is everything in life. If Seth Littrell takes that Kansas State job that dangled in front of him last December, Bodie Reeder is probably back at Eastern Washington right now. If the Arizona Cardinals were a little less dysfunctional, Reeder is most certainly back at Eastern Washington right now.
Kliff Kingsbury’s amazing bounce from Texas Tech to USC to the Cardinals over a 2-month span left USC without a coordinator in January, a hole they filled by hiring Kliff Jr. in Graham Harrell, himself a former Texas Tech quarterback turned Air Raid ambassador. This, of course, led Littrell to pull Reeder out of the Pacific Northwest, handing him the keys to a loaded offense heading into an important season at 32 years old.
It’s no secret Power 5 programs have taken notice of Littrell and are actively circling Denton like hawks, waiting for the right moment to swoop in. The program is unrecognizable from where it was in 2015, when the Mean Green went 1-11 and lost to FCS Portland State 66-7 on Homecoming.
At the same time, Littrell kinda sorta needs to put all the pieces together. The North Texas boosters and administration have answered every “Can we have this?” question with a resounding yes. An indoor facility is being constructed as we speak. Littrell has received two new contracts in three seasons on the job, making him one of the highest-paid coaches in the Group of 5. The 2017 Mean Green squad won the program’s first C-USA West Division championship but was outclassed by the Lane Train in two meetings, including the championship game. The 2018 team was a national sensation in September but blew double-digit leads to Louisiana Tech, UAB and Old Dominion (including a 28-0 lead in that one) and was blown out by Utah State in the New Mexico Bowl.
Put it this way: you don’t make someone the highest-paid coach in your conference not to win that conference.
His EWU offenses ranked fourth in FCS in scoring and third in total yardage, helping the Eagles reach the FCS national championship despite losing their starting quarterback for the year in Week 5.
Reeder arrived at Eastern Washington after three seasons as a quality control assistant working with quarterbacks at Oklahoma State. That was preceded by three seasons — in his mid-20s — as the offensive coordinator at Wisconsin-Stout.
“The things he was doing at Eastern Washington offensively really intrigued me,” Littrell told Texas Football in April. “It was very similar to what I had done before at North Carolina and Indiana. He was doing special things. When I got on the phone and talked to people he had worked with, I was even more intrigued.”
Littrellwas particularly intrigued by Reeder’s work in preparing backup quarterback Eric Barriere after starter Gabe Gubrud went down, and with his fit on the existing staff — both in personality and scheme.
Reeder doesn’t consider himself an Air Raid guy, which will bring some welcomed variety to the North Texas attack. The three- and four-wide sets will stay, but they’ll be complimented by sets with multiple tight ends and multiple running backs. The stuff UNT already did well won’t change — Reeder is adapting to the existing terminology — but Reeder’s new ideas will push the offense in new, creative directions.
“I think that if you can run the ball for yards you can throw it for miles,” Reeder told the North Texas Daily. “If you can establish a running game, that’s going to open up the shots down the field, it’s going to make your passes more explosive and that’s who I want to be.”
EWU running back Sam McPherson ran for 1,500 yards last year, and UNT should be able to match or exceed that production. Running backs Loren Easly, DeAndre Torrey and Nic Smith are all back after combining for 1,726 yards and 21 touchdowns on 5.44 yards a carry.
Most importantly, Mason Fine is also back for his fourth year as a starter. Fine is a big-time quarterback packed into a 5-foot-8 body who’s already thrown for 9,417 yards and 64 touchdowns. He’ll spend his senior season diversifying his portfolio before making a run at the NFL next spring.
“[Reeder] came in and I think he does a little bit more of not necessarily progression of 1-2-3,” Fine told the NT Daily. “He wants you to maybe have a key defender that he wants you to read and then going off that. He’s got a lot of knowledge so I know if I don’t know something I’m going to ask him and I can use a lot of that and put it into my game.”
Top receiver Rico Bussey, Jr., is back after posting more than 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns last season; his overall numbers could go down while his per-catch production will go up. Increased emphasis on getting running backs and tight ends the ball (Kelvin Smith is a name to watch here) should give the wide receivers more room to breathe.
Reeder arrived at North Texas at an interesting time. A good season could lead himself and the entire staff to a new destination — the Conference USA championship podium, a Power 5 job offer, or all of the above.