Tennessee Offensive Coordinator Alex Golesh. Photo by RTI.
The college football coaching carousel is turning. On Sunday, the University of Wisconsin announced that former Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell is on his way to coach the Badgers, thus leaving a spot with the Bearcats open.
The Bearcats play in the American Athletic Conference, which is outside of the Power 5 conferences, but still do hold national prominence after a College Football Playoffs trip during the 2021-2022 season. Cincinnati has been looked at as a very solid option for quite some time now.
Could that story weave its way into Knoxville?
On Monday, The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman listed his top candidates to replace Fickell with the Bearcats. After a few solid choices, Feldman spelled out the name of a familiar coach – Tennessee offensive coordinator Alex Golesh.
“The 38-year-old, who handles play-calling duties for the Vols, had a key role in the program going from No. 102 in total offense to No. 7 in 2021 to No. 1 this year,” Feldman wrote on Monday. “The Broyles Award finalist is another prime candidate.”
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The year-to-year offensive numbers are truly eye-popping. Golesh’s responsibility in calling an offense that jumped more than 100 spots nationally over the span of fewer than two years is absolutely something that will catch the attention of offensive-minded decision-makers.
Golesh, who spent time growing up in Dublin, Ohio, is no stranger to the midwest. Golesh began his coaching career as a student assistant with Ohio State, who was coached by Jim Tressel at the time.
Following his time in Columbia and a degree from the university, Golesh moved on to become the running backs coach and recruiting coordinator for Toledo in 2009. Golesh then moved to Illinois in 2012 as the tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator.
Matt Campbell, a friend from Toledo, took note of Golesh’s success and eventually hired him in 2016 to be the Iowa State Cyclone’s tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator. After a prolific eight-year stretch with the Cyclones, Golesh was hired by Josh Heupel and the UCF Knights as the co-offensive coordinator and tight ends coach.
As most know, Heupel brought Golesh with him to Knoxville when he was hired as the head coach in 2021 as the Vols’ lone offensive coordinator and the tight ends coach.
Golesh’s work with Tennessee as a coordinator during the 2021 season was undeniable as he led the Vols to eight team single-season records, according to UT Sports: “points (511), total offensive yards (6,174), touchdowns (67), point after touchdowns made (67), total first downs (316), rushing first downs (164), fewest interceptions thrown (3) and passing efficiency (167.10).”
That’s not where the work ends, though.
Golesh has also transformed Tennessee tight end, Princeton Fant, into a touchdown machine this year as the senior found receiving (3), rushing (5), and passing (1) touchdowns.
With the way that Tennessee’s offense has been able to steamroll opponents during his two years in Knoxville, there wasn’t any doubt that Alex Golesh and potentially other members of the Tennessee staff would pop up in head coach conversations.
Heck, Tony Romo already deemed Josh Heupel as the NFL’s next big target.