2004: Graduate assistant at Oklahoma
2005: Tight ends coach at Arizona
2006-2010: Quarterbacks coach at Oklahoma
2010-present: Promoted to co-offensive coordinator at Oklahoma
Current position: Co-offensive coordinator at Oklahoma
Philosophy: In 2000, Mike Leach brought the "Air Raid Offense" to Oklahoma, and perhaps the person who benefitted most from it was then senior quarterback Josh Heupel. That year he finished second in Heisman Trophy voting behind Chris Weinke, but was named an All-American and collected several prominent national rewards whole leading Oklahoma to a national championship.
Now the offensive coordinator of the spread offense at Oklahoma, Heupel has shown his preference to throw early and often. The Sooners play at a very high pace and are among the nation's top offenses from a production standpoint. While he shares the offensive coordinator duties, his effective play calling ability has produced an OU offense that ranks in the top 10 in both scoring and total offense in 2011.
Why he may be hired:
1. Offensive prowess:There's no denying the firepower of Oklahoma's offense in the past decade, and more recently Heupel's play calling has been a major component of that. Heupel would have the personnel in place to bring his version of the spread to Arizona and have success offensively from his first game on the sidelines.
2. Success with quarterbacks: If he is hired as head coach, he'll have a pair of serviceable quarterbacks in Matt Scott and Tom Savage to work with. It's hard to argue Heupel's success with signal callers, as he's tutored Heisman winners Jason White and Sam Bradford, as well as current OU superstar quarterback Landry Jones. If he's hired and continues his success with Savage or Scott, rebuilding Arizona will certainly be much easier.
3. Bang for your buck: As far as salary goes, Heupel is a steal for Bob Stoops at Oklahoma, as he makes just $250,000 annually. If Greg Byrne opts to go with the Oklahoma offensive coordinator, he could triple his salary and still keep it below $1 million dollars. For that kind of bargain, Heupel may be an attractive candidate from the start of the process.
4. Winning attitude: As a player and a coach, Heupel has seen plenty of success in his time at Oklahoma. For a program that has struggled picking up wins, a head coach with a pedigree of success and a strong desire to win would be the infusion of positive energy that UA needs to turn things around.
5. Familiarity with program: Heupel spent 2005 as the tight ends coach at Arizona, so he already has a taste for UA and Tucson. That experience in the community and around the program will not be enough to get him the job, but it may be enough to put him ahead of other candidates in his same position.
Why he may not be hired:
1. May not be ready for a head coaching job: At just 33 years old and with only six seasons of coaching under his belt, Heupel may not be prepared to take on the rebuilding project that Arizona will be.
2. Loyalty to Stoops: Heupel was the quarterback while Mike Stoops was the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma, and Stoops gave him a position on his staff in 2005 as the tight ends coach. As a result, Heupel's may be reluctant to pursue the position vacated by his former coach, colleague and friend.
3. Can he recruit without Bob? The offenses which Heupel has to work with are as dynamic as they are due to the prowess of Bob Stoops and the tradition of Oklahoma. Without those advantages, how would a young coach with such little coaching experience fare on the recruiting trail? That question may be enough to prevent him from getting serious consideration.
4. How would he do with less talent? While his role in the high-powered Oklahoma offense should certainly be recognized, is his level of success more a product of his personnel or his own coaching prowess? At Arizona, he certainly will not inherit an offense anywhere near the level of the one he walked into at OU, which will surely raise questions about his ability to have a level of success anywhere near the achievements of the Sooner offense.
5. May not be ready to leave Oklahoma yet: As an alumnus of the school and a part of its proud football tradition, at this stage in his career, Heupel may be content as the co-offensive coordinator. While Heupel appears destined for a head-coaching job someday, he may not be in too big a hurry to advance in his career and may be perfectly content coaching at his alma mater.