by Wes Sparkmon, williamsonsource.com …
The Blue Raiders’ search for an offensive coordinator is over and bringing a familiar face back to Murfreesboro. In a surprising move, Tony Franklin is leaving the Pac 12’s Cal Golden Bears to return to the sidelines of Floyd Stadium. Franklin will be replacing Buster Faulkner, who took the same position at Arkansas State.
Franklin is regarded as one of the innovators of spread offense. After beginning his career winning state championships at the high school level in Kentucky, UK’s Hal Mumme brought Franklin on staff as a running backs coach. Franklin would be promoted to offensive coordinator, where his Wildcats would rank 2nd in the nation. His time at UK would lead to Franklin getting jobs with Troy and Auburn as offensive coordinator. After a less than stellar season at Auburn, he served as Middle Tennessee’s offensive coordinator in 2009, where he took an offense which had ranked 7th in the Sun Belt and 84th nationally in scoring and improved them to 2nd in the Sun Belt and 23rd in the nation. The 2009 Blue Raiders would win 10 games and the New Orleans Bowl, MTSU’s first modern bowl victory in Division I-A (now FBS). After his redemption season at Middle Tennessee, Franklin went to Louisiana Tech to join Sonny Dykes for three seasons before the two would head out west to take over the Cal Golden Bears. After a first year struggle adapting pro style players to a spread offense, the Golden Bears offense has taken off. This season, Cal ranked 3rd nationally in passing and 8th in total offense and the Golden Bears’ quarterback Jared Goff is regarded as the number one quarterback in this year’s NFL Draft.
While many have raised eyebrows at the move from a “Power Five” program in Cal to “Group of 5” Middle Tennessee, Franklin said the move was a personal one.
“When Laura and I made this decision to leave Cal and move back closer to our family we were very fortunate to have an opportunity arise soon after. The new opportunity allowed me to continue to coach football as well as have a closer relationship with our parents, children and grandchildren. I am grateful to head coach Rick Stockstill and Middle Tennessee State University for welcoming me back as the offensive coordinator for the Blue Raiders. In 2009 we worked together to win a MTSU Division I record 10 games and I’m certain we can work together to better that this go around,” said Franklin.
Franklin’s trademarked offensive system is widely regarded as one of the nation’s best offensive schemes with more than 350 teams implementing the system nationally. With his track record of offensive success and a bevy of returning talent, the Blue Raiders look to be prohibitive favorites in Conference USA’s Eastern Division this coming season.