As the college football season plummets toward its conclusion, the college football coaching carousel begins to swirl, with hirings and firings set to be a significant topic of conversation from here on out. After successfully revitalizing an SEC offense, one man is set to be the hot ticket once the cycle begins in earnest.
Who is Kirby Moore? Hint: He could be the next great college head coach.
Who is Kirby Moore? Meet the Next Hot Ticket in College Football Coaching
For now, however, Moore is the Missouri offensive coordinator and quarterback coach. For many, he’s the brains behind one of college football’s biggest success stories this season. The Tigers are trading punches with some of the best teams in the country.
One year removed from a 6-7 season where the offense was routinely the downfall, Missouri is flying high with seven wins already in the bag and winnable games still on the schedule. They haven’t had an eight-win season since 2018, and you have to go back to 2014 to find double-digit wins for the Tigers.
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Missouri boasted one of the highest amounts of returning production in the country for the 2023 season and retained head coach Eli Drinkwitz. The change from 2022? The hire of Moore as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach and the delegation of play-calling responsibility to the new man on campus.
The change has been significant, and the results are outstanding. Obviously, outstripping the win total from last season with four games to spare is the headline maker, but when you start to dig behind the headline to the numbers that tell the story, that’s when you start to uncover the real Moore magic.
With Drinkwitz calling plays for the majority of the 2022 campaign, Missouri averaged 24.8 points per game, ranking 86th in the country for scoring offense. Fast forward a year, sprinkle Moore’s influence all over every facet of the offense, and the Tigers are averaging 33.9 points per game and rank 33rd in the nation. A gain of nine 9.1 points, and a leap of 53 spots. Magic.
Dig a little deeper and the leaps in other offensive metrics are equally impressive. Last year, under Drinkwitz, the offense averaged 5.40 yards per play. This year, under Moore, they’re fourth in the SEC while averaging 6.66 yards per play. Passing offense, rushing offense, third down conversions, they’re all significantly better in 2023 than they were one year ago.
Down in the red zone, where games are won and lost, Missouri is a completely different beast from the Tigers team that took to the field a year ago. Only 80.85% of red zone plays resulted in a score in 2022, and only 59.57% ended in a touchdown.
Under Moore, no team has more red-zone success. 97.14% of trips result in a score, and 68.57% result in a touchdown.
That’s the magic of Moore.
His play designs and play calling are making Brady Cook look like a world-beater at quarterback. Running back Cody Shrader is getting downhill like a man possessed. The Missouri offensive coordinator is extracting the very best out of electric WR Luther Burden III, who, at the time of writing, sits second in the nation with 905 receiving yards.
It’s what makes him such a hot ticket candidate when the temperature starts to increase to an inferno under some of the less comfortable seats on the coaching carousel.
Moore is, however, used to being a man pursued as the college football season winds up and the preparation for the following campaign begins. He was targeted, head-hunted by Drinkwitz, especially for this moment.
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For while his success at Missouri has been significant, it’s just the latest in an esteemed early career.
A former standout wide receiver who was named the Washington 2A Player of the Year as a senior at Prosser High School, offensive success is in Moore’s blood. The son of successful high school coach Tom Moore and brother of Boise State legend-turned-NFL offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, he has continued the family legacy of offensive excellence.
The younger Moore also played collegiately at Boise State, registering 115 receptions and 1,137 receiving yards alongside six touchdowns in a 45-game college career that was marred by a foot injury.
While brother Kellen had an NFL playing career, Kirby jumped straight into coaching. He spent a year at the College of Idaho as a wide receiver coach before gaining valuable Power Five experience at Washington, working alongside his Boise State head coach Chris Peterson on a Huskies team that were the last Pac-12 program to reach the College Football Playoff.
It was at Fresno State, however, where Moore made a name for himself as one of the sharpest offensive minds in the game. Spending three years as the wide receiver coach under Jeff Tedford, he quickly established himself within the program, earning a promotion to passing game coordinator for the 2020-2021 college football seasons.
During those two seasons, the Bulldogs had continually one of the best passing games in the Mountain West, ranking first for passing yardage in 2020 and second in 2021 as Moore helped extract the very best out of quarterback Jake Haener and a talented WR room led by Jalen Cropper.
The spotlight intensified on Moore in 2022 when he was named the offensive coordinator for the Bulldogs following the return of Tedford.
Engineering the highest-scoring offense in the Mountain West despite injury to star quarterback Haener, Fresno State averaged 30.6 points per game on their way to winning the conference championship for the first time since 2018.
His ability to engineer creative, impactful, powerful offenses made him an ideal candidate for a Missouri team looking to ignite their offense and extract the most from their playmakers. It’s exactly the same skill set, with a year of success at what some might call the highest level of college football, that will make Moore the hottest ticket in the upcoming coaching carousel.