'He’s a winner': KU O.C. Brent Dearmon ready for first shot at running a Power 5 offense

New Kansas offensive coordinator Brent Dearmon cracks a smile during a recent KU football practice. Dearmon was promoted from offensive consultant to O.C. on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, and is the process of preparing for his first game in his new role.

Nobody seems surprised by Brent Dearmon’s sudden rise up the coaching ladder.

Dearmon was recently promoted to KU’s offensive coordinator following a 2-4 start to the season, and was formally introduced to the media Thursday afternoon. Dearmon, who has had stints as a high school coach and at three levels of collegiate football, is now an OC at a Power Five program just 11 years after his coaching career began.

And Kerry Stevenson, the head coach who gave Dearmon his first shot, said he always knew it was a matter of time before this day came.

“In this business, I know a superstar when I see one,” said Stevenson, who is now the director of player development at Tennessee. “He doesn’t have any patience. He’s innovative and he’s not set in his ways. Those people that will do that have a chance to be very successful, so he’s going to do a great job.”

In 2008, around the time Dearmon’s playing career at the arena level was coming to a close, Stevenson gave him his first full-time coaching gig: an OC role at Vigor High School in Prichard, Ala.

Dearmon was a Vigor alumnus, and Stevenson had coached him during his junior campaign at the school. Even back then, Stephenson said he could tell Dearmon was a student of the game.

“He was just different,” Stevenson said. “He never has a closed mind. He was always trying to figure out a way to get better.”

Dearmon was constantly taking notes, Stevenson said, and his football IQ made up for the fact he wasn’t always the most athletic player on the field. So Stevenson knew exactly who to bring in when he needed an OC at Vigor.

Dearmon was there between 2008 and 2011, helping his former high school team win a state title in 2008 with a 15-0 record. The Wolves scored 577 points that year, which is still the highest number of total points in a single season in program history.

When Stevenson eventually made the step up to college football, he ended up opening a door for Dearmon as well. Stevenson was offered positions at both Auburn and Alabama, and felt he couldn't pass up the Alabama job. But he recommended Dearmon to Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn for the role instead.

That job — an analyst position — was a pivotal step in his journey, Dearmon said.

“I think the Lord has brought me down a path for a reason,” Dearmon said. “I know God has prepared me through high school, through my time at Auburn, to Division II, to a head coach at NAIA, to right now. He’s prepared me through all those times in life.”

Dearmon got his first chance to run a college offense when he joined the Arkansas Tech staff as an offensive coordinator. The Wonder Boys produced the biggest offensive turnaround in college football in his first season, which included a 360% increase in rushing yards from the previous campaign.

In each of his three seasons at Arkansas Tech between 2014 and 2017, Dearmon had a quarterback make the all-conference team. Quarterback Ty Reasnor directed an offense that led the Great American Conference with an average of 40 points per game in 2017.

“He’s like nothing that I have played for before in terms of how he schemed up defenses,” Reasnor said. “Dearmon is the best football coach that I have ever played for.”

Dearmon continued his success during his one-year head coaching stint at his alma mater, Bethel University, in 2018, where he produced the nation’s highest-scoring offense at any level. In his lone season there, Dearmon guided the team to its best season in school history.

Bethel went 10-0 in the regular season, averaging 540.3 yards and 55.0 points per game. Quarterback Sam Castronova set the single-season school record with 28 touchdowns passes and 2,453 passing yards — records that were previously held by Dearmon himself.

“I felt like I was playing the best football of my life,” Castronova said. “Coach Dearmon is an offensive guru. He’s a great coach and a great guy, too. I don’t think (Kansas) could have picked anyone better for the job.”

It would have been easy for Dearmon to stay put at his alma mater. He enjoyed his routine of having lunch with Bethel’s president every Tuesday. He remains the school’s career record-holder in passing yards (7,045) and touchdowns (77), and could have accomplished even more as a head coach.

But Dearmon, who has a math degree like his father and Stevenson, has always been willing to take a chance or try something different.

When Les Miles became the head coach at Kansas this past offseason, it wasn’t long before he added Chip Lindsey as an offensive coordinator. Lindsey and Dearmon were once on the same staff at Auburn, which led to a reunion in Lawrence when Dearmon was brought on as an offensive consultant.

“I took a leap of faith leaving my alma mater,” Dearmon said. “I knew in order to get a position like this, I was going to have to do that. I came here with the full intention of learning everything that I could. I’m grateful for the opportunity to come here with a future Hall of Fame coach in Coach Miles.”

Only time will tell if Dearmon can orchestrate another offensive turnaround in such a short amount of time.

But, in reality, the Jayhawks can only go up from here. KU’s offense ranks 101st in the nation with an average of 22.8 points per game and 102nd in the country with an average 354.5 yards per contest.

Given what Dearmon has been able to do at every place he’s ever been, though, it is not hard to imagine Kansas showing improvement on offense in the second half of the regular season. In fact, those familiar with him fully expect it.

“He’s going to find a way to get it done with whatever he has,” Stevenson said. “He’s a winner. He’s just a superstar in this football business."

Comments

how many times has this sentence "..the Jayhawks can only go up from here.." been written about kufb in the last decade; seriously? i like this guy, hope he works out. but if he was so great, why did Les is More chose Les is Less Koenning to lead the offense to start? I-formations w a 170lb scat back? jfc. win 1 more game & ull make hclm out to be a 'genius'. hopeful, but realistic. #RCJH

1 month ago

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Steven Haag

We were way too predictable on offense. He will go through some growing pains for sure. He also needs to get the players in that he needs to run the offense. I think he will be a very good one. I have not been overly optimistic and have been a realist before the season began(rightfully so, look at our record). But I think we are all going to be pleased with this guy

1 month ago

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Dane Pratt

First shot at running a P5 offense. Would be difficult to find a more challenging P5 job than KU. Hope he knocks it out of the park but will be satisfied if he can improve the offense in his first game against UT and before season's end have them playing up to their potential.

1 month ago

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Dirk Medema

It’s understandable that Les would be skeptical about promoting him to OC right off the batt. We should all be plenty skeptical about over promoting coaches out of desperation.

Guessing Brent was supposed to be the understudy for a couple years before Lindsey’s premature departure. LK was safe but again guessing that Miles was checking an evaluating the possibility of a change with each stagnant performance.

1 month ago

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Chris Condren

I am fine with this change. The Kansas offense has not been good enough to consistently win games for ten years. If this young lion has the gift we’ll lets give him a chance

1 month ago

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Jim Stauffer

What must be realized is he is guiding an offense that has much less physical talent than the Texas and many other defenses in the Big 12.
Even with that what I am looking to see is if he can teach Carter how to make a higher percentage of sound decisions on whether to hand off or throw.
This RPO will be as successful as the Online and the QB are at doing their jobs. The OLine has not impressed me this year, yet we have still shown moments of clicking.
I am hopeful Dearmon can bring a unity to that crew and quick and sound decision making to Carter.

1 month ago

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Joe Black

Carter isn't the answer. Never has been, never will be.I'd rather play a younger guy to get him experience for the future instead of a known poor performer.

1 month ago

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Brad Avery

A question that I did not hear asked at Coach Dearmon's news conference is whether KU has the talent at receiver, quarterback, running back and offensive line to compete in the upper echelons of the Big 12. My perception is that KU was not under-performing relative to its talent, and that Dearmon, to be successful, will have to find a way to get the offense to over-perform.
It's probably too late in the season to expect this team to make incremental improvements that will significantly improve its overall offensive performance. He's going to out-scheme the opposing defenses. I hope he is that good.

1 month ago

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Michael Maris

@ Joe,

JUST maybe, the QB Beaty's staff recruited (and Grey-shirted) might be that QB? And, he's getting a whole year to get acclimated to the current offensive style and coaches.

1 month ago

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Len Shaffer

"Quarterback Sam Castronova set the single-season school record with 28 touchdowns passes and 2,453 passing yards — records that were previously held by Dearmon himself."

* * *

"It would have been easy for Dearmon to stay put at his alma mater. ... He remains the school’s career and single-season record-holder in passing yards (7,045) and touchdowns (77) ..."

Huh???

1 month ago

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