By Neil Patrick Healy
The Nevada football program has found its new head coach.
It was reported that Norvell was one of three finalists for Nevada’s vacant coaching position and was offered the job Wednesday. He was hired over Eastern Washington head coach Beau Baldwin and Vanderbilt offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig. The Reno Gazette-Journal reports that Nevada wouldn’t let Norvell leave campus without completing a deal. The hire makes Norvell the first African-American head coach in program history.
Norvell, 53, has been an offensive coordinator at Nebraska, UCLA and Oklahoma along with being a position coach at Texas, Iowa State and Wisconsin. While he was the co-offensive coordinator at Oklahoma (2011-2014), the Sooners ranked in the top 20 in scoring offense four times. He was also an NFL position coach with the Indianapolis Colts and Oakland Raiders, helping the Raiders make the Super Bowl in 2002. During his one season at Arizona State, the Sun Devils ranked 39th in points per game and 43rd in passing offense.
Norvell was reportedly selected due to his strong ties to California and Texas, both of which are key recruiting states for Nevada. California, in particular, was a point of emphasis for Norvell’s hire.
Norvell is replacing Brian Polian, who went 23-27 over his four-year tenure at Nevada. Novell will look to improve Nevada’s offense, which was No. 85 in the nation in points per game last season. Under Polian, the offense never ranked in the top 50 nationally in points per game, top 60 in total offense and placed 89th, 110th and 93rd in passing offense the last three years.
Despite the low rankings, Nevada’s offense brings back several key pieces on offense, including quarterback Ty Gangi, running back James Butler, wide receiver Wyatt Demps and offensive tackle Austin Corbitt.
Neil Patrick Healy can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @NP_Healy.