The Cincinnati Bearcats have found their new offensive coordinator as Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator Zac Taylor is reportedly joining the Cincinnati football staff as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. In a related move, Cincinnati has reportedly hired Auburn offensive line coach J.B. Grimes to replace former Cincinnati offensive line coach Darren Hiller.
Taylor comes in to replace former offensive coordinator Eddie Gran and quarterback coach Darin Hinshaw after both left for the University of Kentucky recently. Taylor will come to Cincinnati after spending the past couple years on the Miami Dolphins coaching staff. Taylor joined the staff in 2012 as the assistant quarterback coach, took over as quarterbacks coach in 2013 and eventually stepped in as interim offensive coordinator for the Dolphins when Bill Lazor was fired this season. Prior to his time with the Dolphins, Taylor was a grad assistant at Texas A&M and actually played quarterback at Nebraska during the Ndamukong Suh years.
The hiring of Taylor brings some excitement, but isn't without it's own question marks. Taylor has quickly made a name for himself in coaching circles, jumping up to the NFL level after only three years with the Aggies (and former NFL coach Mike Sherman) at the college level. In a similar stretch of time, Taylor also rose from assistant quarterback coach to offensive coordinator at the NFL level.
While the limited college coaching experience leaves his recruiting impact up in the air, I don't think Taylor will be a detriment in recruiting. Having coached in the NFL should help win over recruits and Taylor himself has some professional experience himself playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the CFL. Not to mention, he clearly has the knowledge and personality to win over those in coaching circles, I expect him to be a quick study in recruiting.
As for his offensive coordinator prowess, Taylor helped the Dolphins close out the 2015-16 season with a 2-3 record as the interim offensive coordinator. That stretch showed two ends of the spectrum with Miami only achieving 219 total yards in his first game against Baltimore, with quarterback Ryan Tannehill throwing for only 86 yards. However, in the regular season finale, he guided the Dolphins offense to 438 total yards against New England with Tannehill throwing for 350 yards and two touchdowns. I tend to believe the latter is a more accurate reflection of his coaching ability.
Meanwhile, the Bearcats are also hiring Grimes from Auburn, who joins his son (a Cincinnati graduate assistant) with the Bearcats. The hiring of Grimes does also signal the departure of Hiller, who found great success with the Bearcats, developing one of the more consistent offensive line units over the past three years. Grimes certainly isn't a step down, as he has found similar success with Auburn in the vaunted SEC, but this move is likely more about bringing in the guy the new offensive coordinator (Taylor) wants, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer, than Hiller failing.
JUST IN: #UC football will hire Auburn OL coach J.B. Grimes as OL coach, sources confirm. Former UC OL coach Darren Hiller won't return
— Tom Groeschen (@TomGroeschen) January 11, 2016
Both coaches are intriguing coaching options. Taylor is a bit of an unknown for the Bearcats, but there is some reason to be excited. He doesn't have the experience of Gran, but Taylor could be the rising candidate Cincinnati fans are looking for.