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If Texas A&M Offensive Coordinator Jake Spavital Is Available, He Would be a Great Fit at Penn State

The Texas A&M offensive coordinator could end up being available this offseason. Would James Franklin have interest?

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

There is a good chance that you, a Penn State fan who primarily follows the Big Ten, are not familiar with the 30-year-old offensive coordinator of Texas A&M. But that's why we're here and have been profiling offensive coordinator candidates since John Donovan was relieved of his duties less than two weeks ago. Today we present: Jake Spavital.

Spavital played quarterback (and punter) at Missouri State before entering the coaching ranks in 2008 as an offensive quality control assistant at Tulsa, where his offensive coordinator was current Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn. In 2009, Spavital went to Houston as a graduate assistant, coaching under Kevin Sumlin (now Spavital's boss at Texas A&M) and offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen. Holgorsen brought Spavital along with him in 2010 when he took the offensive coordinator job under Mike Gundy at Oklahoma State, with Spavital remaining a graduate assistant. He worked with quarterback Brandon Weeden in teaching him Holgorsen's new offensive system; Weeden would end up being drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft in 2012.

Spavital's first break came when Holgorsen was offered the head coaching position at West Virginia in 2011. Holgorsen accepted the position and offered Spavital the quarterbacks coaching job. There, Spavital coached quarterback Geno Smith for two seasons. Smith would end up drafted in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft after putting up big numbers in the Mountaineer offense during his college career.

Sumlin, who had coached with Spavital four years prior in Houston, had an opening at offensive coordinator in 2013 following Kliff Kingsbury's departure to take the head coaching job at Texas Tech. Spavital became the co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Aggies, coaching Johnny Manziel in his final college season before being taken in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Sumlin liked the job Spavital did in 2013, promoting him to sole offensive coordinator and demoting the other co-offensive coordinator to running backs coach. For the last two seasons, Spavital has remained the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Texas A&M.

"He has a great reputation [within coaching circles]," said a scout that I spoke to about Spavital who wished to remain anonymous. "He has been a quarterback developer and is an instinctive play-caller."

What kind offensive system can we expect from a coach like Spavital?

"He's been part of a prolific spread with power run everywhere he's been," the scout said. "He just had no capable running back [in 2015]."

"He's going to be a head coach pretty soon," the scout added.

So it seems that Spavital checks a lot of boxes for James Franklin. In the short term, a spread offensive attack with a power running game fits in with the strengths of this offense at skill positions. And thinking bigger picture, he is an outside hire with offensive coordinator experience at a successful program, in addition to experience with other successful offenses and quarterbacks. So why would he even be available?

There are a couple of factors in play, and the first is that Spavital's 2015 season has garnered him plenty of criticism from commentators and Texas A&M fans. His playcalling has come under fire at times, and it is not hard to find pockets of A&M fans online hoping that Spavital is let go. It is, of course, important to remember that Spavital is just 30-years-old and that plenty of successful coaches have had their struggles at times, but the 2015 season that the Aggies have had on the offensive side of the ball is cause for some concern, especially considering the talent the team has at quarterback and wide receiver.

That said, it is not all just on Spavital. The team has not gotten the expected production out of its offensive line, and as was noted by the scout I spoke to, they lacked a running back to open up things in the passing game. Rumors of locker room discord have swirled as well, with Sumlin apparently not handling the team's quarterback controversy well.

With all of these rumors of discord in College Station, it's not hard to imagine impatient boosters demanding a fall guy from Sumlin, and with the offense being the focal point of the criticisms, Spavital could be that guy. Fox Sports ran a report (citing 247Sports) back in November indicating that A&M may indeed cut ties with Spavital at season's end. While Sumlin stated the next day that there was "nothing factual about the report," there is enough turmoil at Texas A&M to suggest Spavital could end up being available. And if he is, he might be the bold type of hire that James Franklin is looking for.