School of Mines head coach Bob Stitt an offensive guru to D-I teams
The first time I'd ever heard of Bob Stitt was about five years ago at the 1-Back Clinic, an informal annual gathering of some of the cutting-edge minds in college football. That year the clinic was held at the University of Houston. Many of the coaches there -- Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin, West Virginia's Dana Holgorsen, Cal's Sonny Dykes, TCU's Doug Meacham, UCLA's Noel Mazzone -- lead or have led some of the most prolific offenses in the FBS.
Stitt walked to the front of the Cougars team room with an unrecognizable "M" on his shirt and said, "I'm Bob Stitt, with two T's at the end of my name." The day's itinerary listed him as "Bob Still." Stitt, now 50, is the head coach at Colorado School of Mines, a Division II school just down the road from the Coors brewing facility in Golden, Colo.
"If this stuff works with our guys, it'll probably work with the guys you have," Stitt said. "We're an engineering school, and we only have one major, engineering. Our average ACT score in math is 29 (out of 36)." That line drew the biggest "Oooh!" of the day.
Stitt proceeded to gush about the back-shoulder throw, well, the Back-Shoulder Throw.
Stitt explained that day in Houston that he used to dread opponents lining up in press coverage and blitzing his team, but the back-shoulder throw has offered a solution. "We want man coverage, and we've got receivers who run 4.8 and 4.9 40s," he said.
Since then, Stitt has become a cult hero around college football. The #StittHappens motto is on T-shirts that prominent major college football and basketball coaches have worn for photos on Twitter. And Mines, the program with jaw-dropping academic standards and rigors, still keeps piling up points at a staggering rate.
Stitt also seems like an intriguing option for some FBS programs looking for a jump start, especially when you consider that he took over the most inept program in the near 100-year existence of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. Stitt told me when I visited Mines a few weeks back, he'd love a shot at coaching at the FBS level. After all, there are some good examples of small college head coaches who have thrived in the big-time. Notre Dame's Brian Kelly, a former head man at Michigan's D-II Grand Valley State immediately came to mind.
I did a TV feature on Stitt and Mines for FOX Sports 1 this week and it's evident this guy is a pretty compelling character. And he might be the most innovative man in all of college football because other coaches in major college football keep finding big success borrowing plays he has devised, including A&M OC Jake Spavital this season.
This year, the Orediggers (10-1) rank No. 2 in the nation in passing offense (376 ypg), No. 3 in total offense at 523 yards per game and have converted on more fourth downs than anyone in D-II (29), while making good on over 67 percent of their attempts.
Mines plays No. 9 Ohio Dominican in the opening round of the NCAA Division II Playoffs Saturday.
Bruce Feldman is a senior college football reporter and columnist for FOXSports.com and FOX Sports 1. He is also a New York Times Bestselling author. His new book, The QB: The Making of Modern Quarterbacks, came out in October, 2014. Follow him on Twitter @BruceFeldmanCFB.