Brandon leaves UW for New Mexico State

By now most of you know or heard that Wyoming offensive coordinator Gregg Brandon was hired for a similar position at New Mexico State Friday.

He gave two reasons.

1) His previous relationship with current New Mexico State coach Doug Martin. Both were head coaches in the Mid-American conference back in the 2000s. Brandon said he has known Martin for 10 to 12 years.

2) Brandon received a two-year deal worth $180,000 a year. He was to make $160,000 at UW this year and his contract was up at the end of the year. Brandon told me that the multi-year deal and the salary was too good to pass up. This is Brandon’s 32nd year as a college coach, and said he “isn’t going to do this forever.”

Brandon is one of the classiest coaches I have dealt with in 19 years as a sports journalist. I thought he was the best assistant coach on the staff, and he did a great job with quarterback Brett Smith the last two years, and also with Jason Thompson as a true freshman last season and backup Colby Kirkegaard.

During signing day when head coach Dave Christensen announced newly hired Jason Gesser would coach quarterbacks and Brandon would continue to be coordinator and also coach running backs, I asked Brandon about it. He said it was Christensen’s decision and they would move forward with it. He didn’t seem giddy about it, but he was professional. He was still going to coordinate the offense and call plays. Christensen also said he would have a “heavy hand” in the offense this season. To me that was interesting. Not speculating if that had anything to do with Brandon leaving, but even if it was, a smart coach wouldn’t say that in public or to the media.

And, Brandon is a smart coach.

You also never want to burn any bridges in the coaching business. Not saying there were bridges to burn here, but that is never a smart idea in any business.

So, what does Christensen do from here? He won’t comment on it until Tuesday, as he is out of town until then.

He could go out and hire a coordinator.

He could do what he did with Gesser: find what he thinks is the best coach available, hire him and adjust the staff from there.

He could move Gesser to offensive coordinator and go hire a running backs coach. Gesser was Idaho’s running backs coach in 2011, its offensive coordinator in 2012 and interim coach the last four games after the school hired Robb Akey.

Christensen could take an even heavier hand in the offense and take over the play-calling duties himself. He was an offensive coordinator at Toledo and Missouri before he was hired as head coach at UW. That would be tough juggling the head coaching duties with coordinating an offense.

I don’t anticipate Christensen promoting someone currently on the staff as offensive coordinator.

Although Brandon coached running backs while he was offensive coordinator at Bowling Green in the early 2000s, it seems more ideal to have the offensive coordinator coach the quarterbacks. It is not a stead-fast rule, but most schools do it that way.

One thing that needs to be considered in all this is UW’s recruiting ties in Colorado. Marty English was the guy when Joe Glenn was the coach from 2003-08, and stayed on when Christensen was hired in 2009. He left for Colorado State after the 2011 season.

Brandon, who went to high school and college in Colorado, took over recruiting there and landed five solid recruits in this year’s class. UW can’t afford to lose its recruiting ties in Colorado.

You have to wonder what Smith is thinking right now. This was his position coach and coordinator since he got to UW. Brandon wasn’t the guy that recruited Smith, but it was obvious the two established a good rapport. Brandon said he had a good meeting with Smith when he told him the news, and described him as a “big-time talent.”

Hoping to talk to Smith sometime next week.

What do you think Christensen and UW should do?

For more on this story, see Saturday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to

7 thoughts on “Brandon leaves UW for New Mexico State

  1. The timing of this news, coupled with the apparent demotion of Brandon as RB Coach- which in effect it is, is compelling.
    Some comments out there about the apparent lack of adjustments at half, for the Pokes last year offensively is perhaps part of this shift. My thoughts are more involved in the lack of D, Tormey was not let go- which tends to tell me that there were some ego’s involved that may bring light to the change in latitude for Brandon. As good as B Smith is, and realizing his mentor and Coach was Brandon says something as well. Idaho was horrible, although not much worse than Wyo and we bring in this young QB guy, shift Brandon to RB which may have been good for production purposes. However the O was run by Greg. Never a dull moment in Wyoming Athletics, I can’t see how this is a good thing at all. Our production was vastly improved by his experience. Time will tell, hoping we find a quality replacement for the Coordinator for the Pokes Offense.

    • I don’t think this is good for Wyoming, but also part of the business. Brandon has more job security now with a two-year deal and he is making 20K more a year. He didn’t tell me there was any tension or ill-will toward UW or Christensen in leaving, and in the coaching profession, even if there was, coaches won’t burn any bridges. Will be interesting to see where this goes from here and what Christensen does with the opening on this staff. Another things UW and Burman has to take a look at is what it pays assistants. It will never be the highest in the Mountain West, but when New Mexico State can pay a coach or coordinator more than UW, that needs to be looked at.

  2. Robert
    Is this a good or bad thing with Brandon leaving?
    Brandon seemed like a good fit at Wyoming and they way things were going seemed like DC qas going to leave before Brandon and he would be a natural replacement. But DC has a lot of work to do to build a consistent and winning program. Plus with how much he is being paid and some of his reactions seems like DC is staying put. Not necessarily a bad thing.
    Do not get me wrong I liked Brandon but what was the deal with letting off the gas in the second half of games? Was this a Brandon issue or HC issue? This seemed to happen since Brandon arrived… The new Qb coach seemes to know from experience what it was like to be a great Qb at Wash St which is a comparable pogram in alot of ways to Wyoming… Good or bad about Brandon leaving?

  3. 2013’s 6-6 or better season has just become a 5-7 season at best with the departure of Brandon to Las Cruces.

  4. Where is Burman in all this switching coaches. I said it last year ,why every year coaches moving positions all the time,seems like no continuity down there. I don’t get it . Maybe better see if ol Dan Hammersmith still in the area. Least the guys been around the block once or twice. As the pokes turn.

  5. Robert, with the exception of the New York Yankees, everyone can beat what you’re paying someone, if they want that person bad enough. The real question is — why didn’t we match the offer? The answer is obvious- the “little General” wants to coach more and manage less. And quit frankly it might help his anger management issues. From now on it won’t be the opposing coach’s unethical behavior but Coach’s play calling. Coach will feel more in control of his own destiny. His problem solving can be MORE inwardly directed. If your Brandon you have to ask yourself “if the team is to move forward” why isn’t the MORE HANDS ON APPROACH” directed at the defense? Answer is simple. Coach doesn’t see the flaws in the defensive system as well as he sees it in the offense. The fix is not as obvious to him. Still he is the right coach with the right system and we will win 7 or 8 this season.

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