By now, most loyal readers know Louisiana State offensive coordinator Gary Crowton is expected to be named Maryland's next offensive coordinator.
The Baton Rouge Advocate reports Crowton will sign a three-year deal with the Terrapins for $500,000 a year --- just a bit more than what James Franklin was making as Maryland's offensive coordinator.
So, what exactly is Maryland getting? Let's take a look at the old track record from the last decade, shall we? Included in each chart is total offense, rush offense, pass offense, scoring offense, turnover margin and final record, with national rank in parentheses for all but ths W-L mark.
BRIGHAM YOUNG HEAD COACH, 2001-04
||121.1 (88)||260.8 (27)
There's such a thing as a smooth slope when it comes to diminishing returns, and then there's this. Yes, there was a bit of a rebound in the final year of Crowton's run in Provo, but an abysmal turnover margin coupled with an immediate peak early last decade that couldn't be sustained (sound familiar?) led to a change of plans.
At that point, it was off to Eugene to join Mike Bellotti staff.
OREGON OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR, 2005-06
Based on that raw data, you'd be led to believe the Ducks' year-over-year collapse could be pinned heavily on defensive regression. And you'd be right. Oregon gave up 30 points on seven occasions and wasn't great at anything on defense.
But the Ducks were also 7-2 and ranked 21st in the land in early November. They lost their last four, scoring a combined 54 points in those games. Still, the glaring number (just as it was at Brigham Young) is the turnover margin; Oregon had 32 giveaways in 2006 compared to 19 a year earlier.
But that's a small sample size, and it is fair to wonder what would have happened if Crowton got to coach a fast-maturing Dennis Dixon. Instead, some relatively unknown (to the masses, anyway) Division I-AA assistant named Chip Kelly got that opportunity.
Meanwhile, Crowton headed to Louisiana State.
LOUISIANA STATE OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR, 2007-2010
|2007||439.4 (26)||214.1 (11)
Like at his previous two gigs, Crowton peaked in his first year. And like at Brigham Young, the overall direction of the offense over the next three years can be simplistically described as down-down-up, with year Nos. 2 and 4 looking somewhat similar.
As for the turnover totals for the Tigers' offense, the sequence went 16-20-14-24. Yes, it was because Louisiana State's defense was a takeaway machine this year (32) that the Tigers' turnover margin improved.
So what's the overall history lesson? Crowton does his best work immediately --- and it's quite impressive. Given that (a) Maryland needs to win now to fill up Byrd Stadium and (b) Crowton, if hired, would take over a talented offensive that brings back its starting quarterback, two of its top three running backs and four of five offensive line starters. For 2011, it has all the makings of working out well.
In the long term? That's a little dicier, particularly moving from Year No. 2 to Year No. 3. Out of the dozen categories offered for 2002-03 Brigham Young and 2008-09 Louisiana State in the charts above, only two saw improvement. One was turnover margin (and the Jordan Jefferson/Jarrett Lee combo did collectively become less mistake-prone in 2009) and the other was record (which was a bit flukish; Louisiana State was the only team in 2009 to win more than seven games despite getting outgained by at least 20 yards a game.
Is there more to a coordinator's success than the numbers listed above? Certainly so. But Crowton's last decade trends toward a fast start, then increased grumbling as time elapses. It'll be fascinating to see just how well the pattern holds up in College Park in the next few years --- and how Maryland fans will react if Crowton's career arc repeats itself.