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LSU Hires ‘One Of Best Offensive Minds In The Game’ in Cincinnati’s Mike Denbrock

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LSU confirmed the hiring of offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock away from College Football Playoff participant Cincinnati on Sunday night, as previously reported over the weekend.

“I’ve coached with Mike for many years,” LSU coach Brian Kelly said in a release. “He’s one of the best offensive minds in the game, and we share an established trust, respect and understanding that will help us maximize the talent of our players immediately.”

Denbrock’s offense finished the 2021 season ranked No. 13 in scoring at 36.4 a game, and quarterback Desmond Ridder was No. 13 in efficiency at 158.7 on 251-of-387 passing with 30 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Ridder’s 3,334 passing yards were No. 19 in the nation.

The No. 4 Bearcats (13-1), who lost 27-6 to No. 1 Alabama in the CFP semifinals on Friday, set school records with 70 touchdowns and with 516 points. Denbrock, 57, has been Cincinnati’s offensive coordinator since 2017.

“His offenses have maintained a consistent level of excellence throughout his entire career, and he knows how to develop players at every position,” Kelly said.

Kelly and Denbrock have been coaching cronies since they were graduate assistants together in 1987 at Grand Valley State in Allendale, Michigan.

Denbrock was then Kelly’s offensive coordinator at Grand Valley State from 1992-95 before switching over to be his defensive coordinator from 1996-98.

A native of Albion, Michigan who played tight end at Grand Valley State from 1982-85, Denbrock was Kelly’s tight ends coach at Notre Dame in 2010 and ’11, then pass game coordinator in 2012 and ’13 before becoming offensive coordinator in 2014. He was Kelly’s wide receivers coach in 2015 and ’16.

At Notre Dame under Kelly, Denbrock was part of six bowl games, including the 2012 BCS national championship game where the Irish lost 42-14 to Alabama. That was the closest Notre Dame came to winning a national championship since its 11th and last one in 1988 under coach Lou Holtz.

“I’m excited for him to join our staff and elevate our program,” Kelly said.

Among Denbrock’s other coaching stops was Stanford in 2001 as tackles and tight ends coach, Notre Dame from 2002-04 as tackles and tight ends coach, Washington as offensive line coach from 2005-08, and Indiana State in 2009 as special teams and linebackers coach.

Last week, Kelly, who left Notre Dame to become LSU’s coach last month, also hired Kansas City Chiefs linebackers coach Matt House to be the defensive coordinator. House, who will remain with the Chiefs through the end of their NFL season, was Kentucky’s defensive coordinator in 2017 and ’18 and was Pittsburgh’s defensive coordinator in 2013 and ’14.

LSU (6-6) will play Kansas State (7-5) on Tuesday in the Texas Bowl in Houston (9 p.m. Eastern, ESPN) with interim head coach Brad Davis, who will be retained, and offensive and defensive coordinators Jake Peetz and Daronte Jones, who will be leaving LSU.

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Written by Glenn Guilbeau

Guilbeau has been on the LSU beat since 1998 with multiple outlets in Louisiana, prior to that he had covered both Auburn and Alabama. He won first place for his game feature on LSU's upset at Florida last season from the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He was also named Beat Writer of Year, by Louisiana Sports Writers Association in July; placed in three Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) categories – Beat Writer, Explanatory, Game Coverage – last spring. Guilbeau was also the FWAA first-place winner for columns in 2017 and was also the top overall winner in 2016 FWAA placing first for his game story, second in columns, and receiving honorable mention for features.

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  1. No doubt this gentleman is a fine coach and extraordinary fellow … that said …

    Head coaches have a tendency to exaggerate … on “signing day” EVERY program gets “everyone we wanted … and they are all incredible student athletes … our kind of people ” … and every staff hire is “one of if not THE best offensive/defensive minds in all of Football”. … and overly-caffeinated fans turn backflips in anticipation of multiple national championships in the very near future … sigh.
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