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COLUMN: Possible candidates to replace OC Charlie Frye


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Kevin Barbay (courtesy CMU Athletics)

With Charlie Frye off to work with prized prospect Tua Tagovailoa as the Miami Dolphins' quarterbacks coach, Central Michigan is now in search for a new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. 

Under Frye, CMU shot to the top of the Mid-American Conference charts in total offense and had two 1,000-yard rushers in 2019. 

Receivers Kalil Pimpleton and JaCorey Sullivan emerged as first team All-MAC performers. Then, in 2020, the offense sputtered without an experienced quarterback and some injuries on the offensive line. 

Now, CMU must find someone who shares the high-flying, explosive vision that coach Jim McElwain has for his offense. The Chippewas retain a variety of offensive stars, such as Pimpleton and potentially Sullivan thanks to the extra year of eligibility. 

Emerging running backs Kobe Lewis and Lew Nichols are also back, and the Chippewas have a solid addition at quarterback in Washington transfer Jacob Sirmon.  

As the quarterbacks coach, Frye helped to revive the career of 2019 graduate transfer Quinten Dormady and allowed David Moore to show his skill set before he was suspended for testing positive for a banned substance. 

The prized prospect, Daniel Richardson, was up and down in four starts before being injured in 2020. With the addition of Sirmon and two freshmen, the new QB coach will inherit a competition with plenty of options. 

Here are three candidates who could potentially replace Frye:

Kevin Barbay

Current position: Assistant head coach/Wide receivers coach, CMU (Third year)

Why it could work: Promoting internally is always a solid choice, even more so during the ongoing pandemic where the budget is tighter. In his two seasons with the team, Barbay has worked with the most talented unit on the squad, the wideouts, and has a good familiarity with the passing game that Frye implemented. 

Barbay also has plenty of familiarity with McElwain, working with him at Florida for three seasons as the director of player development. He has offensive coordinator experience, as he held that role at Stephen F. Austin for a season before coming to CMU. 

Barbay has an effective offensive mind and is a familiar face, meaning that the offense wouldn't miss a beat if he were handed the reins. Should Barbay get the job, look for the Chippewas to bring in a new offensive coordinator. 

Evaluation: Front-runner, safe bet

Kerry Dixon

Current position: Wide receivers coach, Georgia Tech (Third year)

Why it could work: Dixon is another familiar face, having served as McElwain's wide receivers coach at Florida from 2015-17. Given that Barbay, Frye, linebackers coach Tim Skipper and special teams coordinator Keith Murphy were all a part of that staff in some capacity, it's worth thinking about the possibility of Dixon joining the group. 

Hiring Dixon could mean either he or Barbay take different roles, as someone will have to take the quarterbacks. The good news is that both have experience coaching the position. Dixon has the familiarity background, sure, but his experience as a Power Five recruiter at Georgia Tech could be a underrated perk to adding him to the staff as well.

Evaluation: Good addition to the staff, familiarity makes him a favorite while experience as coach and recruiter could make him an asset in southeast.

Austin Appleby

Current position: Wide receivers coach, Missouri State (Second year)

Why it could work: Appleby worked under McElwain in 2019 as an offensive analyst and quality control coach before taking off to work at Missouri State with Ryan Beard, the former secondary and special teams coach at CMU who is now Missouri State's defensive coordinator. 

Appleby also played at Florida under McElwain in 2017 after transferring from Purdue. 

Though he may not be ready to be the offensive coordinator, he would be a good choice to take over the role of quarterbacks coach that Frye leaves behind should someone like Barbay or Dixon get the offensive coordinator job. Appleby is young and a guy that McElwain brought in upon taking the job at CMU, so a reunion makes sense. 

Evaluation: Would be a great fit: McElwain gets familiarity for his offense while Appleby can continue growing his coaching career.

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