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Steve Sarkisian won the Broyles Award at Alabama last year and was subsequently hired to be Texas’ head coach. Joe Brady won the award the year prior and latched on to a sweet NFL gig. Other past winners include Lincoln Riley, Brent Venables, Pat Narduzzi and others.

The award, given annually to the top assistant in college football, is likely within reach for OSU defensive coordinator Jim Knowles, the man behind one of college football’s best — and most surprising — units in the game. In nearly every category the defense ranks tops in the Big 12 and among the best in the country.

No OSU assistant coach has ever won the award. Mike Yurcich and Knowles have been nominated and gotten consideration. But Knowles this season, barring an upset, should at the very least be one of the finalists. He should have a real chance at winning it, too.

Should he win, he’d join the elite of the elite company in the college game with a real who’s who of ascending coaches. The list is as follows:

YEAR PLAYER SCHOOL
2020 Steve Ambrose Sarkisian Alabama
2019 Joe Brady LSU
2018 Mike Locksley Alabama
2017 Tony Elliott Clemson
2016 Brent Venables Clemson
2015 Lincoln Riley Oklahoma
2014 Tom Herman Ohio State
2013 Pat Narduzzi Michigan State
2013 Pat Narduzzi Michigan State
2012 Bob Diaco Notre Dame
2012 Bob Diaco Notre Dame
2011 John Chavis LSU
2011 John Chavis LSU
2010 Gus Malzahn Auburn
2010 Gus Malzahn Auburn
2009 Kirby Smart Alabama
2009 Kirby Paul Smart Alabama
2008 Kevin Wilson Oklahoma
2008 Kevin Wilson Oklahoma
2007 Jim Heacock Ohio State
2007 Jim Heacock Ohio State
2006 Bud Foster Virginia Tech
2006 Bud Foster Virginia Tech
2005 Greg Davis Texas
2005 Greg Davis Texas
2004 Gene Chizik Auburn
2004 Gene Chizik Auburn
2003 Brian VanGorder Georgia
2003 Brian VanGorder Georgia
2002 Norm Chow USC
2001 Randy Shannon Florida
2000 Mark Mangino Oklahoma
1999 Ralph Friedgen Georgia Tech
1998 David Cutcliffe Tennessee
1997 Jim Herrmann Michigan
1996 Mickey Andrews Florida State

The tricky part is that most of the coaches on this list weren’t coordinators for long. Gene Chizik turned his success into a head coaching gig. Same for Mike Locksley, Sarkisian, Tom Herman, Gus Malzahn, Kirby Smart and others. When you’re a great assistant, programs want to bet on your potential to be a great head coach.

OSU is paying Knowles a fine salary — it’s reportedly in the range of $800,000 — but that’s easily a figure a school could compete with. If, say, Florida State wanted to go out and swipe him as its DC, they have the resources to do that. If another school wanted to bet on his head coaching potential, it wouldn’t take much at all to get him a handsome bump in pay.

There’s no indication Knowles, 56, is wanting to hightail it out of Stillwater after such a stellar season, of course. But given his sky-high stock that continues to ascend that thrusts him potentially in the same conversation as star assistants-turned-head coaches of the past, it’s easy to see a world in which his star turn in Stillwater lands him elsewhere. Speculation for another day. For now, it’s worth acknowledging just how good a job he’s done to position him — and OSU — for success this season and beyond. He’s changed the perception of OSU’s defense and its program in a way almost no one thought possible.

The post The Elite Company Jim Knowles Would Join as a Broyles Award Winner appeared first on Pistols Firing.

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