Joe Karlgaard didn't look too far into his past to find Rice's new head ball coach, the former Stanford senior associate athletics director for development went back to Palo Alto to sweep up Stanford offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren.
The hire is a coup for the Owls, Bloomgren is widely considered a front-runner is and when David Shaw decides the NFL sounds way better than spending months on the recruiting trail. That might still be in play if Bloomgren can find success at Rice. Bloomgren is a noted techie who values school culture and the athletic department being the right fit in that culture.
Bloomgren leaves Stanford after seven seasons, and he's got a warm spot for the maulers, having coached the offensive line and coordinated the run game. Even as offensive coordinator and associate head coach, Bloomgren still coached the linemen.
Stanford's offensive line room is full of four and five-star talent. One of the hidden recruiting cheat codes is that if you're academically qualified and Stanford offers you, you go. They've stockpiled smashing machines.
Why we like it
Bloomgren is considered an up an comer at just 40 years of age. He spent three weeks as a GA at Texas A&M in 2007 before moving on to the New York Jets as an offensive quality control assistant, rising to assistant offensive coordinator under Rex Ryan. David Shaw hired him two years later.
He's smart, really smart. Bloomgren graduated Magna Cum Laude from Florida State before finishing up his masters at Alabama with a 4.0. He was one of the first coaches to introduce virtual reality to his regular coaching regiment. Expect some of that tech, brain power to translate as Bloomgren tries to revamp the Rice program. He won't have the same resources at Stanford, but he's got the Patterson Complex that he can mold into his laboratory.
Bloomgren is also offensive minded, and while his offense is precisely spread, fun, cutting edge, he does use numeric advantages and personnel groupings to gain tactical advantages. His attack is known to deploy seven and up to nine linemen, not exactly the air raid, but prepping for those personnel groupings once a year will prove to be a challenge in spread happy CUSA.
Bloomgren's operated in a program with similar academic criteria as the Owls. That's a huge plus, as Bloomgren understands right off the bat how the academic staff and the football staff must work together to ensure that players qualify and are set up for success on campus. He's also seen how a program with those same academic requirements can be consistent conference title contender.
We have our questions:
Can Bloomgren's offensive system work with Rice's current and potential personnel? As we outlined earlier, Stanford continues to put together class after class of blue-chip offensive line talent. The Cardinal use those giants to move defenders so backs like Bryce Love can operate in green grass, something Rice fans saw on full display from the first play of the 2017 opener. To run the system, you must have quality linemen, that could take time to build, a few recruiting cycles, if at all. Rice isn't Stanford in terms of national prominence, geographic location or infrastructure. Can he find and develop that talent?
While we're on that thought, can he find and recruit that talent having only spent the three weeks as mentioned earlier coaching in the state? Maybe Rice starts to recruit more nationally, but the Owls, like the Cardinal, will need to thrive in their home state. Perhaps Bloomgren can solve some of these issues in hiring his staff, their ability to evaluate and identify local talent, given the academic restrictions will be critical.
The Owls are set to introduce Bloomgren on Wednesday, this should be an interesting ride.