Top offensive coordinators

Tennessee will be facing the NCAA's finest offensive coordinator when the Vols visit UCLA Sept. 1 in the opener for both schools. At least, that's the contention of analyst Dennis Dodd.

In a story posted at cbssportsline.com, Dodd ranks Norm Chow – now in his first year with the Bruins after a stint with the NFL's Tennessee Titans – as the No. 1 offensive coordinator in all of college football.

Chow is one of three Pac 10 aides to make Dodd's eight-man list. The others are Chip Kelly of Oregon and Steve Sarkisian of USC. The remaining honorees are LSU's Gary Crowton, Florida State's Jimbo Fisher, Boston College's Steve Logan, Tulsa's Gus Malzahn and Florida's Dan Mullen.

In addition to facing Chow in the opener, Tennessee will be facing Mullen and the Gators Sept. 20 in Knoxville.

While I applaud Dodd for including two SEC coordinators, Crowton and Mullen, I think our boy Dennis overlooked one Southeastern Conference aide who definitely needs to be on the list. That would be Tony Franklin of Auburn.

Franklin's track record is pretty impressive. As offensive coordinator at Kentucky in the late 1990s and early 2000s he made SEC passing leaders out of Tim Couch, Dusty Bonner and Jared Lorenzen. He also made Couch the No. 1 overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft. Moreover, Kentucky made back-to-back bowl trips during Franklin's stint in Lexington, something that has happened just four times in program history.

After a stint as head coach of an indoor pro team, Franklin returned to college coaching in '06 as offensive coordinator at Troy, where he promptly fashioned an attack that went from dead last among Sun Belt Conference teams in total offense to No. 2 in that category. Last fall Troy ranked No. 16 among NCAA Div. 1A schools in total offense, up from 109 the year before Franklin's arrival. Troy also won back-to-back Sun Belt titles in his two years at the school.

Last December Auburn head man Tommy Tuberville hired Franklin eight days before the Tigers were to face Clemson in the Chick Fil-A Bowl. Incredibly, Franklin installed enough of his spread attack in those eight days to help Auburn keep the ball for 90 plays, piling up 24 first downs and 423 total yards, in a 23-20 upset of a Clemson team ranked No. 6 nationally in total defense.

It's worth noting that Franklin accomplished this with Auburn personnel that had managed just nine regular-season points vs. Arkansas, 14 vs. Mississippi State, 17 each vs. Alabama and Ole Miss.

Franklin deserves a spot on Dodd's list. By the way, Franklin and the Auburn offense will be facing Tennessee Sept. 27 at Jordan-Haire Stadium.


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