Eddie Gran reportedly accepted the Kentucky Wildcats offer to become their offensive coordinator, after playing the same role for the Bearcats over the past three seasons. In addition to his familiar offensive coordinator title, Gran will be given an assistant head coach title under Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops. Stoops and Gran worked together at Florida State from 2010-12.
SOURCE: #Cincy OC Eddie Gran expected to become new OC at #Kentucky. He's meeting w/ #UK this AM to finalize deal: https://t.co/J7evjSQMr3— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) December 29, 2015
The loss of Gran isn't totally unexpected, as Cincinnati's offense, under his coaching, has been explosive over the past couple seasons, particularly this 2015 campaign where the Bearcats finished 7th in the FBS averaging 537.8 total yards per game. Cincinnati's offense was also one of the more high-tempo attacks in the country, averaging 81.4 plays per game, behind the prolific play of quarterbacks Gunner Kiel and Hayden Moore. Kiel completed 65 percent of his passes for 2,777 yards, 19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, posting a quarterback rating of 151.9. Moore completed 59 percent of his passes for 1,885 yards, nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions in limited playing time, including a rough outing in the Hawaii Bowl.
Speaking of the quarterbacks, quarterback coach Darin Hinshaw will be heading to Kentucky with Gran, leaving the Bearcats looking for replacements without clear front-runners, as Hinshaw was likely the next man up in the Cincinnati coaching staff.
Kiel also is even more of a question mark heading into the offseason with the NFL Draft calling and Gran and Hinshaw now in the SEC. Kiel has already received his bachelor's degree, leaving the door open for immediate playing time at Kentucky, if he decided to follow his closest coaches there. At Cincinnati, Kiel is looking at a completely new unit of receivers, with six graduating, and likely a new offensive scheme with just one year to improve his NFL Draft stock with those factors in play.
Gran has been great for Cincinnati putting points on the board and has played a significant role in recruiting, particularly in Florida, but this doesn't feel like a death blow. Cincinnati proved his season that offensive stats are all good and fun, but don't always lead to wins. A fresh face could result in less yardage, but better results, especially with how the Bearcats turned the ball over this season. Unfortunately, that is a theory that can't be tested until the conclusion of next season, at the earliest.
The loss of Hinshaw hurts because it means Cincinnati has to look elsewhere (for candidates with previous coordinator experience anyway), but again, that isn't the end of the world if Tommy Tuberville can find the right hire in the coming weeks. The storyline with Kiel is a little more interesting. Kiel would be benefitted by coming back to school and holding off another year from the NFL, because of his troublesome decision-making and the cloudy "personal matter" that he missed the Hawaii Bowl for. Still, heading to Kentucky isn't that far-fetched and could benefit Kiel greatly moving forward.
If he does leave, Cincinnati fans should still feel comfortable moving forward themselves with Moore coming back and the highly-sought after recruit Ross Trail entering the quarterback competition this upcoming season. The cupboard isn't bare for the Bearcats.
The loss of Gran and Hinshaw does leave Tuberville with some decisions to make and could impact Kiel's decision to come back to Cincinnati, but the situation isn't necessarily dire. Some fans loved the numbers Gran's offenses put up and others are excited to beckon in a new play-caller. Either way, this situation could be a positive with a new face behind the play-calling, but only time will tell.