OU prepares coaches for the bigger things

ESPN.com's Jim Donnan talks about the incredible history of the offensive coordinator job at Oklahoma, which he is a part of.

Originally Published: November 23, 2004
By Jim Donnan | Special to ESPN.com

When I took the job as offensive coordinator at Oklahoma in 1985 I was immediately impressed with the OU tradition and how much the former players stayed involved. Upon my arrival in the office, head coach Barry Switzer mentioned to me how the job not only held a lot for the future but had a tremendous past as well.

Being in such a high-profile coordinator job helps an assistant prepare to become a head coach and deal with all the things that come with taking over a program, such as radio shows, dealing with the press on a daily basis and interacting with high-profile alumni -- all of which are key ingredients for the head man.

Here's a look at the lineage of the offensive coordinator position at Oklahoma, guys who went through the same office while running the powerful Sooner offense:

Barry Switzer
Barry Switzer was the first in a long line of big names who were offensive coordinators at OU.
Barry Switzer (1966-72) -- Hired by Chuck Fairbanks as an assistant head coach, who left for the pros in 1972, Switzer took over as head coach in 1973 and is now a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

Galen Hall (1966-83) -- Hall joined the OU staff at the same time as Switzer, and when Barry took the head job Hall became his offensive coordinator and helped lead the Sooners to two national championships and several Big Eight titles. After being wooed by Florida, Hall joined the Gators' staff and became the head coach three games into the 1984 season.

Mack Brown (1984) -- Took over for Hall and helped OU to the Big Eight championship in his only year with the Sooners. Brown has gone on to head coaching jobs at Tulane, North Carolina and, now, Texas.

Jim Donnan (1985-89) -- I joined the program after Mack's departure and we won the national championship in my first year in Norman. With that title and a 28-game Big Eight winning streak on my resume, I went on to become the head coach at Marshall and Georgia.

Larry Coker (1990-92) -- Three years at Oklahoma helped Larry get ready to run his own team, and in his first year as a head coach he led Miami to the 2001 national championship.

Watson Brown (1993-94) -- Mack's younger brother was next in line at OU and is now the head coach at UAB, where he has the Blazers preparing for their first-ever bowl game.

Mike Leach (1999) -- Came to Oklahoma with current head coach Bob Stoops and left after one year to become the head coach at Texas Tech.

Mark Mangino (1999-2001) -- Mangino took over for Leach and parlayed his success into the head coaching job at Kansas, where he is turning the Jayhawks around.

Chuck Long (2000-present) -- The former Iowa quarterback and Heisman Trophy runner-up succeeded Mangino and is currently calling the plays for the Sooners, so look for him to be in a head job soon.

People ask about this chain of success and while good people are obviously attracted to the position, all the great players on both sides of the ball are certainly a help as well. Or maybe there's something about the office, that little space where all the tape is watched and all the game plans are hatched. Talk about karma!

ESPN.com college football analyst Jim Donnan takes part in chats and makes observations on Saturdays as part of College GameDay Live.

Jim Donnan

College Football
Jim Donnan was the head coach at Georgia and Marshall and is an ESPN college football analyst.