When assessing the career of new Texas Longhorns play caller Jay Norvell, it's difficult to determine the type of impact that the former Oklahoma Sooners co-offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach had in Norman.
Since he never called plays for the Sooners, a look at the impressive numbers put up by Oklahoma at different times during his seven seasons doesn't seem to provide that much actual insight into his actual contributions to the offense and the reasons for his termination following the 2014 season.
So who better to provide some insight on Norvell than Blatant Homerism's Allen Kenney, who closely observed the Sooners offense over that period?
Burnt Orange Nation: In your estimation, was the firing of Jay Norvell by Oklahoma after the 2014 season justified or was he unfairly scapegoated for offensive struggles over which he had little to no control?
Allen Kenney: "Justified" is a strong word, but the time had probably come for Norvell to move on. Norvell could recruit with the best of them, but after seven seasons, it became clear that his players weren't developing. Kenny Stills, Ryan Broyles, Sterling Shepard -- if you weren't ready to play right away, chances are that you wouldn't get there under Norvell. On top of that, the passing game regressed badly last season. Change needed to happen.
BON: When the Sooners originally promoted Josh Heupel from quarterbacks coach to play caller, why did Stoops pass over the more experienced Norvell in favor his former quarterback?
AK: That's a great question that Stoops never really addressed directly. It definitely caught everyone off-guard when Heupel got the nod after Kevin Wilson left for Indiana. It's possible that Heupel's experience with the spread/Air Raid gave him the advantage over Norvell.
BON; How much did Norvell contribute to the average offensive game plan and what was his role in the offensive hierarchy at Oklahoma?
AK: My impression was that Norvell's title as co-offensive coordinator was somewhat of a token gesture on Stoops' part when Wilson left. While Norvell had the opportunity to provide input regarding the scheme, I don't believe he had much of a role in calling plays on game day. If we're talking org charts, my sense is that he was essentially second-in-command to Heupel.
BON: On the surface, what are your initial impressions about whether Norvell will be able to find success as the play caller at Texas?
AK: I have my doubts that this will be a successful move, but I guess that depends on what is being asked of Norvell. If the goal is to have him implement something like a remedial version of the spread to better utilize the talent on hand, that sounds manageable. I don't think it will produce the kind of season that Texas fans want, but that probably makes sense as a bridge to the next offensive coordinator. Keep in mind, however, that Norvell's experience with calling plays is actually fairly limited. It's tough to say if he can handle installing a different scheme and game-planning and calling the plays.
Thanks to Allen for his insight. You can read his work at BlatantHomerism.com.