After nearly a month, the search for an offensive coordinator has ended, as the Fresno State football program decided to go with the in-house option by promoting offensive line coach Ryan Grubb to acting offensive coordinator and associate head coach.
The offensive coordinator position became available in January after former Bulldog offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer accepted the same position at Indiana University.
Grubb and DeBoer have roamed the same sidelines as a coaching tandem since their days at Sioux Falls University (2007-09), where Grubb took over DeBoer’s coordinator duties. Grubb moved to Eastern Michigan University (2014-2016) before settling in Fresno in 2017.
Grubb looks to continue the success that the Bulldogs achieved over the last two seasons, after his predecessor DeBoer’s offense helped turn a 1-11 Bulldog team in 2016 into a team with a 22-6 record over the last two seasons.
DeBoer, with the help of Grubb, turned Fresno State into one of the best scoring offenses, ranking No. 26 in the nation, averaging 34.6 points per game and No. 20 in red zone scoring at 89.5 percent.
Under Grubb, the Bulldogs’ offensive line paved the way for the success of Bulldog football, with Grubb’s line allowing an infinitesimal 10 sacks over 14 games — ranking third in all of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) in 2017. That same season, Fresno State also ranked third in tackles for loss allowed per game with 3.29.
According to a news release by the university, “Grubb will continue to have a direct influence on the offensive line group, but with the added responsibility of offensive coordinator and associate head coach, [Roman] Sapolu will be a key assistant to that group.”
The Bulldogs also filled three other vacancies on the coaching staff on Monday, including the positions of quarterbacks’ coach/passing game coordinator, assistant offensive line coach and defensive line coach – a position that was vacated after former defensive line coach Jamar Cain was hired by Arizona State.
In the case of the defensive line, the Bulldogs brought in a coach accustomed to the Red Wave in the form of Will Plemons. This will be Plemons’ second stint at Fresno State, as he was an assistant under Pat Hill from 2008-2011, spending three years under the same title he has once again been hired for. Plemons has also made stops with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League (2014-2015) and defensive line coach at Sacramento State (2016-18).
The Bulldogs have added a seasoned assistant coach in Danny Langsdorf as their quarterbacks’ coach/passing game coordinator. Langsdorf has a coaching career including more than 20 years, with stints in the National Football League with the New Orleans Saints (2002-04) and the New York Giants (2014), while at the college ranks Langsdorf served as the offensive coordinator at both Oregon State (2005-2013) and Nebraska (2015-17).
In a final move, Fresno State hired Sapolu to fill the role of assistant offensive line coach after spending three seasons at Nebraska as a graduate assistant working with the offensive line (2015-17) and one season at Idaho State as offensive line coach in 2018.
Sapolu is familiar with Langsdorf. During Sapolu’s playing career with Oregon State, Langsdorf served as OSU’s offensive coordinator for every year he was at OSU, except for his senior year in 2014.
Sapolu also comes from a winning lineage dating back to the San Francisco 49ers’ dynasty of the 1980s, as Sapolu is the son of Jesse Sapolu. His father is a four-time Super Bowl champion during his career with the 49ers, spanning from 1983 to 1997.