The FIU Panthers have begun searching for a new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, as Rich Skrosky was fired on Wednesday.
Skrosky was a part of head coach Butch Davis’ inaugural staff at FIU and spent the last four seasons in Miami. During his tenure with the Panthers, Skrosky’s offense was nationally ranked 12th in passer efficiency and 27th in points per game in 2018. He set program records in total points, total yards, yards per play, passing touchdowns, passing yards, passer efficiency, completion percentage, rushing touchdowns and sacks allowed in 2018.
Skrosky, 56, also developed two quarterbacks that were selected in the NFL Draft — Alex McGough (2018) and James Morgan (2020). However, FIU’s offense ranked last in Conference USA and 117th of 127 FBS schools in yards per game (310.8) this past season. Furthermore, the Panthers’ pass offense was 121st of 127 teams in passing yards per game (133.2).
“I have made a decision to go in a different direction schematically,” Davis said. “I want to thank Coach Skrosky for his participation in building our football program.”
After a putrid 0-5 season, a move of this stature was expected considering the offense’s inability to put points up on the board. Next year is Davis’ last on his original five-year contract signed with FIU, and a schematic change may be his saving grace.
Davis has already parted ways with defensive line coach Kenard Lang after the FIU’s defense allowed 236.2 rushing yards per game. He also hired Brian Overton to be the program’s Director of Player Development. Overton, like the majority of FIU’s staff, has past ties with Davis, as they spent three seasons together at North Carolina. These moves signal that Davis is undergoing some urgency to get the ship moving in the right direction once again.
Davis indicated in the press release that he’s in no rush to find the Panthers’ next OC/QB coach, but hopes to conclude their search before players return for the spring semester on January 11.
Here’s a look at some candidates who might be on FIU’s radar.
Schoop spent four years on Davis’ staff at North Carolina coaching quarterbacks and as the offensive coordinator before. Schoop has experience in the NFL as a quarterbacks coach for the Carolina Panthers (1997-98), Chicago Bears (1999–2000), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2004) and Oakland Raiders (2004). He was also the offensive coordinator of the Bears from 2001-2003 and the Raiders in 2006. Schoop’s most recent coaching stint came as the OC and QB coach at Purdue from 2013-2015. The 51-year-old is a candidate that makes sense.
Gran has the credentials when it comes to coaching in South Florida. He was a graduate assistant at Miami from 1990-91. Gran is recognized for being a great recruiter in the South Florida area, as he garnered dozens of signees from prospects from the area while he was the OC at Kentucky. Gran was fired from Kentucky on December 6, and a job at a school like FIU could be a suitable destination for the 55-year-old.
Coley, a Miami native, was heavily rumored to be a candidate for the Panthers’ head coaching job when Mario Cristobal was fired in 2012. Coley was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at FIU in 2007, and has since buffed up his resume. He was the OC at Florida State (2010-12), Miami (2013-15) and Georgia (2019). The 47-year-old is currently the tight ends coach at Texas A&M. His relationship with FIU Athletic Director Pete Garcia is unknown, but if the two kept a strong bond, he could be an energetic hire.
Chudzinski got his first full-time coaching gig as Miami’s tight ends coach under Davis from 1996-2000. He was then hired by Davis to be the Cleveland Browns’ TE’s coach in 2004. Chudzinski’s extensive resume includes a head coaching stint with the Browns in 2013 and experience as the offensive coordinator for Cleveland (2007-2008), the Carolina Panthers (2011-12) and Indianapolis Colts (2015-17). Chudzinski currently serves in an off-field role at Boston College as a special assistant to the head coach. Hiring an offensive mind with experience in the college and NFL ranks as an OC could bring a lot of knowledge to FIU’s staff.
Will Ponce return to his alma mater? Probably not. He was the wide receivers coach at FIU for six seasons (2007-12) under former offensive coordinator Scott Satterfield and is most notable for coaching NFL veteran T.Y. Hilton. Ponce, born and raised in Miami, has deep ties to his city. The problem is that he has since followed Satterfield in all his endeavors. Ponce was the co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Appalachian State for six seasons (2013-2018) and is currently the QB’s coach at Louisville. The idea of Ponce returning home to coach at FIU may make sense at first glance, but may require a big paycheck that the Panthers realistically don’t have.
Renner has been by Davis’ side since the North Carolina days. Renner, a former four-star quarterback, was signed by Davis at UNC in 2010. He went on to be a three-year starter and learned from the minds of Everett Withers and Larry Fedora. And in the long run, Renner’s connection with Davis landed him a job as the cornerback’s coach at FIU. However, many don’t know that Renner also works with the quarterbacks at FIU and has been a quarterbacks coach at Austin Peay (2016) and UNC (2017).
Harris, a Miami native, has been FIU’s running backs coach for six years. He has produced NFL free agent running backs and is solid at recruiting the South Florida area. Harris’ unit broke the school’s single-season record for rushing touchdowns (27) and rush yards per carry (4.8) in 2018. The only setback may be the fact that the Panthers are also searching for a quarterbacks coach. Nevertheless, Harris did coach former four-star quarterback Treon Harris from 2011-2014 at Booker T. Washington.
This is quite the reach, but it’s not impossible. Moss played in four seasons and was an All-American wide receiver under Davis at Miami (1997-2000). There have been reports about Moss wanting to get into coaching, and the 14-year-pro might as well submit his resume. Davis has hired former players, as seen when he brought in Joel Rodriguez to be the offensive line coach. The only thing Moss doesn’t have is coaching experience, which is vital. However, Kellen Moore is the offensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys, and he has zero experience as a coach.