Will the real Josh Heupel please stand up?
Missouri’s new offensive coordinator seems to be a man of few words, but those who know him can’t stop talking about him – for better or worse.
From some people, you'll hear about how he helped Sam Bradford win the Heisman as the nation's top player and Landry Jones win the Sammy Baugh Award as the nation's top passer. They'll tell you about how his success has been wide-ranging, from top-five rushing offenses to teams that led the country in passing offense. They'll also tell you about how his offensive philosophy never really got to shine through in his time under Bob Stoops at Oklahoma.
But others will tell you that Heupel is the coach who got run out of town because Stoops needed to make a change. And then they'll tell you Stoops was vindicated because the Sooners' offense ranked among the best in the country without Heupel in 2015, when Lincoln Riley seemingly revolutionized OU's attack.
Josh McCuistion of SoonerScoop.com falls in the first category. When I spoke with him this spring, he had nothing but praise for what Heupel accomplished at Oklahoma. He seemed to believe Heupel got a raw deal, and was scapegoated for Trevor Knight's failures as a starting quarterback.
The other side of the story reared its head Monday when ESPN.com's Travis Haney was on 101 ESPN in St. Louis. Haney told us he isn't sure that Heupel is the right guy for this job.
"I knew Josh (Heupel) pretty well when I covered Oklahoma," Haney said. "It just hadn't gone well for him, whether it was at OU or the injury issues at Utah State. I just don't know if he's the guy you want trying to re-imagine that offense. If it does work out, it's going to take quite a bit of time."
Not exactly a ringing endorsement for a guy that had so much success at Oklahoma.
Maybe Josh Heupel isn't as great of an offensive coordinator as his pedigree would suggest. It's entirely possible (maybe even likely) that it will take two or three years before the hire pays off for the Tigers. But I have a hard time believing that Heupel can't help this offense improve from where it was a year ago.
The Tigers allowed 30 sacks last season. No Heupel-led offense has ever allowed more than 21. Mizzou was 14th in the SEC in scoring offense in 2015. Heupel's offenses have never finished lower than fifth in scoring in their respective conference.
It seems like the same problems Mizzou fans had with former offensive coordinator David Yost were the gripes Oklahoma fans had with Heupel: His offense had grown predictable, if not successful.
I think most Mizzou fans would sign up for a predictably successful offense right about now.
(You can follow Brandon Kiley on Twitter @BKShow)
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