Broyles Award likely candidates: Week 11

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Thursday November 10, 2016

At the end of this month, the Rotary Club of Little Rock will name its nominees for the Broyles Award, given to the nation’s top assistant coach, and a number of coaches are worthy of the honor this season.

Lincoln Riley won the award last season as Oklahoma’s offensive coordinator. Since the award’s inception in 1996, more than 20 percent of finalists have become head coaches, including six of the past eight winners (Kirby Smart, Kevin Wilson, Gus Malzahn, Bob Diaco, Pat Narduzzi and Tom Herman).

Through 10 weeks, here are CoachingSearch’s top candidates, in alphabetical order. (Note: Schools can only nominate one coach, but for the purposes of this, we’ve included multiple)

Dave Aranda — LSU defensive coordinator

LSU entered the fourth quarter tied with Alabama with a chance to win because of Aranda’s defense, which is No. 6 in scoring D (14.4 points per game). Through eight games, the Tigers haven’t allowed more than 21 points in a game. In the red zone, LSU is allowing touchdowns on just 30 percent of opposing trips, No. 2 nationally.

John Baxter — USC special teams coordinator / tight ends coach

Baxter has taken USC’s special teams efficiency from No. 74 last year to No. 8 this season in his first year back, per FootballOutsiders. Alabama’s Calvin Ridley was held to 4 yards on two punt returns, and Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey didn’t have a single punt return on five punts. Arizona didn’t have a single return yard in their loss to USC. For the Trojans, Adoree Jackson is averaging 31.1 yards on kick returns, with 1 TD, and 14.6 yards on punt returns, with another TD. Jackson is No. 7 nationally in both stats.

Don Brown — Michigan defensive coordinator

Brown brought an aggressive approach to a talented group, and his defense leads the nation in several stats, including scoring D (10.7 ppg), 3rd downs (18.9 percent) and tackles for loss (9.2 per game). The Wolverines have shut out opponents in the first half of six of nine games this season.

Kirk Ciarrocca — Western Michigan offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach

The Broncos are three wins away from the Cotton Bowl if they complete an undefeated regular season and win the MAC. Ciarrocca’s offense is scoring more than 44 points per game, No. 6 in the country. Senior QB Zach Terrell is completing more than 70 percent of his passes and is in the top five nationally in completion percentage and QB rating. The Broncos have scored at least 34 points in nine straight games. 

Tim Drevno — Michigan offensive coordinator / offensive line coach

The Michigan offense has improved 47 spots this year to No. 3 nationally in scoring, at 48 points per game. On the ground, the Wolverines are No. 15 in rushing at 5.52 yards per rush, and they have four different running backs getting carries and averaging more than 5.2 yards per rush. The offense is also converting more than 48.2 percent of third downs.

Mike Elko — Defensive coordinator / safeties coach

Wake Forest is bowl-eligible for the first time since 2011, on the backs of Elko’s defense, which is allowing 18.4 points per game (No. 14 nationally). The Demon Deacons allowed just nine points to Syracuse and 17 points to Florida State, the Noles' lowest output of the year. The defense is also averaging more than 2 takeaways per game.

Ivin Jasper — Navy offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach

Navy lost Keenan Reynolds from last year’s team and then lost this year’s starting QB in Week 1, but backup Will Worth has the Midshipmen in position to reach the AAC title game right now. The ball-control offense held Notre Dame to just two second-half possessions in last week’s win and ran out the final 7:28 of game clock. Navy is also No. 6 in 3rd down rate (52.4 percent).

Lane Kiffin — Alabama offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach

For the third year in a row, Kiffin has taken a first-year starting quarterback and built a powerful offense around its strengths. This year, it’s a true freshman quarterback with running ability in Jalen Hurts. The Tide are scoring 30 points per game (when you remove all the non-offensive TDs), and averaging more than 5.7 yards per rush (No. 8). Hurts is completing more than 62 percent of passes and averaging more than 5.5 yards per rush. In a tight game at LSU, Hurts made the plays on his feet in the fourth quarter to get the win.

Jim Leavitt — Colorado defensive coordinator / linebackers coach

The Colorado defense is No. 12 in scoring (17.2 ppg), up from No. 70 a year ago and allowing 10 fewer points per game. The Buffs have allowed fewer than 17 points in six of nine games this season. As a result, CU is leading the Pac-12 South.

Greg Schiano — Ohio State defensive coordinator / safeties coach

The Buckeye defense has outscored the opposing offense three times this year. They have 14 interceptions in nine games, returning six for touchdowns. OSU also leads the nation in red zone defense and is top 20 in rushing defense and 3rd down defense. They’ve allowed 0 touchdowns in four of nine games this year.

Jonathan Smith — Washington offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach

The Husky offense has jumped more than 50 spots to No. 2 nationally in scoring at 48.3 points per game. Sophomore QB Jake Browning leads the nation in QB rating and has 34 touchdowns against 3 interceptions. The offense is also No. 6 nationally at more than 5.9 yards per carry. And scored 44 points on Stanford earlier this year.

Jeremy Pruitt — Alabama defensive coordinator / inside linebackers coach

This could be Alabama’s best defense yet. This defense has allowed 13 touchdowns in nine games and scored nine of its own.  It held LSU to 125 total yards and zero first downs on its final seven drives last week. The Tide are No. 2 in scoring D (13.2 points per game), and sacking the opposing quarterback more than four times per game, leading the country.

Brent Venables — Clemson defensive coordinator / linebackers coach

The Tigers only brought back four defensive starters and had to reload the defensive line, but it’s once again in the top 10, allowing 15.7 points per game, and they’re in position to reach the Playoff again. They’re No. 4 nationally with 3.6 sacks per game, which is actually higher than a year ago, and Clemson is No. 7 in third down defense (29.5 percent).

Justin Wilcox — Wisconsin defensive coordinator / linebackers coach

In Wilcox’s first year with the group, the Badger defense held Michigan to its lowest scoring output of the season (14 points), Nebraska to its lowest at the time (17 points) and Ohio State to 23 points in regulation. Wisconsin is No. 3 nationally in scoring D (13.8 points per game), despite losing several of its top defensive players to injury.

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to