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Q&A: A.J. Ricker talks promotion to SMU’s co-offensive coord

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Q&A: A.J. Ricker talks promotion to SMU’s co-offensive coord

Postby AfricanMustang » Fri Jan 17, 2020 6:43 pm

A day after SMU announced that Garrett Riley would take over as offensive coordinator, the football program tweeted out that offensive line coach A.J. Ricker would step up to co-offensive coordinator. He will be keeping his duties as OL coach as well.

SMU hasn’t made Riley available for an interview yet. But The Dallas Morning News did speak with Ricker on Friday about why he declined other offers to stay with SMU, and what his new role as co-OC means for him and the football program.

Ricker has been on staff since January 2019, and previously worked with Riley on the Kansas staff in 2018.

The Dallas Morning News: What do you think about this move to co-OC?

Ricker: "I think SMU is a great place. Obviously with other opportunities because of the season we had, it was -- this was a hard place to leave. Especially with working for a guy like Coach [Sonny] Dykes, and the culture we have. We’re kind of just really starting this thing.

“With Garrett being hired ... super bright guy, he’s from Texas. I think part of the deal, Sonny wanted, obviously a good football coach, but obviously a good fit for his staff. And this staff is unbelievable. There’s no egos. There’s nobody on this staff that cares who gets the credit for anything.”

The DMN: What were some of the other opportunities that you mentioned?

Ricker: "They were offensive line opportunities, and one of the places I had already been in. It was hard, but what made it hard was the kids and the players we have here and the staff. I kind of be somewhere to finish what we started here.

“It was one of those crazy years where you get this opportunity, you tell them thanks but no thanks, then another one pops up.”

The DMN: What was the timeline of all these decisions, both in terms of your promotion and Riley’s hire?

Ricker: “I think Sonny and I talked, and obviously, I still have a lot of growing to do in this profession. And that was part of the reason, along with a lot of other things, of staying here. Because I do want to be a coordinator, and I do want to call plays. And I told Sonny, the funny thing is, I could get into this thing and really decide, you know what, I don’t know if this is truly what I want to do.

I’m happy with being an O-Line coach. Which, honestly, there’s nothing wrong with that, but I want to grow in this profession.”

“Coach Dykes and I, he would come up with some names, and I would come up some names. And ultimately, it was his decision on the fit and what he thought was best for this program."

The DMN: What do you think about Riley, having worked with him. How will you split up this role?

Ricker: "The funny thing is, obviously, I have a ton of respect for [former SMU OC Rhett [Lashlee], and what Rhett did ... Really kind of what we did this past year is we all worked together.

There was no egos. ... Everyone kind of had their part, and I really didn’t want that to change to where it’s just one guy, ‘Hey this is what we’re running, teach it to the guys, and let’s go.’

“I don’t know how it’s all gonna work. Obviously he brought Garrett in here to be the offensive coordinator and obviously I’m gonna do the best with the run game, and I’m also going to grow and expand into the passing game and all that.”

The DMN: Do you want to expand your expertise to be able to coach a whole offense?

Ricker: “Absolutely. It goes down to my philosophy in life. Once you become complacent and satisfied, I think you don’t grow anymore. You’re not learning. This game is constantly evolving. And obviously one of my goals is to coordinate an offense. This is that next step in the direction.

"... I’ll put it this way, giving up the O-Line would be really hard for me. Because that’s really my true passion. And that’s what I love doing, is coaching those guys. They can’t play any other position on the field. The O-Line is kind of your last stop.”

The DMN: Is there any chance Dykes calls the plays? If not, then who has that role? And will you continue to coach from the field or move upstairs?

Ricker: "I’m gonna stay down on the field. And like I said, my number one priority is coaching offensive line. I don’t want to jeopardize that for anything else. At the end of the day, that’s my job, is to get those guys ready. So nothing’s gonna change really.

“We haven’t really sat down and talked about it, but I’m sure it’ll come down to probably either Sonny, if he ... wants to call plays, or Garrett. Obviously with Garrett coaching the quarterbacks, that makes the most sense. I don’t see myself calling plays, though I’m not afraid of it or scared of it. We really haven’t sat down and went through all the intricacies of who’s doing what.”

The DMN: Besides Lashlee leaving, it’s pretty much the exact same staff. That’s pretty rare. What do you make of the continuity with the coaches?

Ricker: "I think that just tells you what kind of head coach Sonny Dykes is. ... To have nine other guys stay, I think tells you the culture we have. I can’t say enough about the staff. Like I said, when you have a staff, nobody cares who gets the credit, nobody cares the stats. All we want to do is put our guys in position to be successful, and we have fun. Ultimately, I don’t know what more you could ask for.

“I think people in this profession are starting to realize, quality of life and having fun in what you’re doing, obviously reflects in your players. Your players see that. They know if you’re miserable. And it is pretty amazing to keep all these guys in tact.”

https://www.dallasnews.com/sports/smu-m ... ordinator/
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Re: Q&A: A.J. Ricker talks promotion to SMU’s co-offensive c

Postby BUS » Fri Jan 17, 2020 9:06 pm

Dont want to mess with that guy. Glad he is happy.
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Re: Q&A: A.J. Ricker talks promotion to SMU’s co-offensive c

Postby SMU_Alum11 » Wed Jan 22, 2020 7:37 am

Co offensive coordinator. Curious do yall think there will be some friendly competition between the two. Or will the expectation be one of them is primary and the other is learning? To me it's the former but I'm curious who ultimately makes the final calls.
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Re: Q&A: A.J. Ricker talks promotion to SMU’s co-offensive c

Postby Charleston Pony » Wed Jan 22, 2020 7:42 am

Clemson used co-offensive coordinators the year Chad came to SMU and it worked pretty well for them. As the years have passed, one of them has moved on to a H.C. position so it depends on how well the guys know and work with each other, but Ricker runs the OL which is critical to having any kind of effective offense so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.
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