Possible Coaching Candidate: Steve Kragthorpe

Before you dismiss coaching candidate Steve Kragthorpe from the University of Miami's search, consider UM's past coaching hires.

UM has a history of making young, successful head coaches at lower profile programs around the country the head coach at the University of Miami.

In 1984 Jimmy Johnson arrived at UM after having success at Oklahoma State University. Johnson, who was 40-years-old when he left Oklahoma State for Miami after guiding the Cowboys to a 30-25-2 record in five years, proved to be one of UM's greatest coaches.

Johnson posted a 53-9 record during his five year tenure at UM.

Then in 1989, when Johnson departed to coach the Dallas Cowboys, UM hired what was seen as a somewhat obscure choice in Dennis Erickson. Erickson, who was 41 years old when he was hired at UM, had a 50-31-1 record in seven years as head coach at Washington State University.

Erickson posted a 63-9 record during his six year tenure at UM.

Like Johnson and Erickson before their arrival at UM, Kragthorpe has proven to be a winner at a school with inferior talent. In three seasons, Kragthorpe, who is 41 years old, has taken Tulsa to three bowl games and led the Golden Hurricane to a 29-21 record during his tenure.

Kragthorpe inherited a program in Tulsa that had 11 consecutive losing seasons, including 1-10 and 1-11 records in the two years before he arrived. His first TU team was 8-5 in 2003, for the biggest turnaround in major college football.

In the two years before Kragthorpe's arrival, Tulsa won two games and the last winning season Tulsa had before Kragthorpe was in 1991. Kragthorpe has proven to be a strong disciplinarian at Tulsa and whose offensive schemes is one of the most respected in the NCAA.

Kragthorpe's football philosophy is said "to be wide-open, aggressive and try to dictate the tempo in all phases of the game. His offensive mentality goes back to Brigham Young University of the 1970's."

During the 2006 season, Tulsa's offense finished the season ranked 20th nationally in total offense (400 ypg) and 30th in scoring offense (29 ppg). Tulsa's offense was balanced, passing for 232 yards per game while running for 168 yards per game.

In two seasons Tulsa quarterback Paul Smith has thrown for 5701 yards, 36 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.

In 1990, Kragthorpe became the quarterback coach at Northern Arizona and remained in that position until being elevated to offensive coordinator for the 1992 and '93 seasons. At NAU, he coached quarterback Jeff Lewis, who spent five years in the NFL as a backup quarterback for the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers.

Following his four-year stint at NAU, Kragthorpe became the offensive coordinator at North Texas in 1994. During his two year stint at North Texas, he coordinated an offense that led the conference in total offense.

Kragthorpe then moved to Boston College where he spent the 1996 season as quarterback coach, coaching current NFL signal-caller Matt Hasselbeck.

Kragthorpe then spent four years (1997-2000) as an assistant coach at Texas A&M, including the final three seasons as offensive coordinator. He also coached the wide receivers from 1997-99, before becoming the quarterback coach for the 2000 season.

While there, the Aggies posted a four-year mark of 35-16.

The 1998 team, his first as offensive coordinator at Texas A&M, posted an 11-3 overall record and a 7-1 conference mark to win the Big 12 South Division and the overall Big 12 Championship. Texas A&M captured the Big 12 title with a 36-33 doubleovertime win against #1-ranked Kansas State in the championship game and finished the season ranked 11th nationally.

Before coming to Tulsa, Kragthorpe spent the two seasons, 2001-02, as quarterback coach in the NFL with the Buffalo Bills. In 2001, he tutored Rob Johnson and in the 2002 season he coached All-Pro Drew Bledsoe.

Miami has always thrived during the coaching tenures of young head coaches who are hungry and eager to make names for themselves. Three of Miami's most successful coaches, Jimmy Johnson, Dennis Erickson, and Butch Davis, were coaches that were not highly sought after, but had success at smaller schools and as coordinators. Steve Kragthorpe fits that mold.

David Lake can be reached at lake@canestime.com

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