LSU fans weren't exactly shooting off fireworks when former Louisville head coach Steve Kragthorpe was tabbed to resuscitate the Tiger offense in January, but even their worst predictions didn't end like this: Per an announcement from the school, Kragthorpe is stepping down as offensive coordinator due to Parkinson's disease. (You can read more about Parkinson's disease here. There is no known cure.)
This announcement comes barely a year after Kragthorpe, 46, stepped down as wide receivers coach at Texas A&M to assist his wife's treatment for multiple sclerosis, which required heart surgery.
This time, Kragthorpe will remain on the staff to coach quarterbacks, but gives up chief game-planning and play-calling duties to offensive line coach Greg Studrawa, a former Urban Meyer assistant at Bowling Green who oversaw a string of dynamite offenses after being promoted to Falcon offensive coordinator in 2003. Bowling Green finished in the top five nationally in total offense in each of Studrawa's first two seasons at the controls, before prolific quarterback Omar Jacobs graduated and the operation began to nosedive. He joined Les Miles' staff at LSU in 2007, under new offensive coordinator Gary Crowton, just in time to pick up a ring.
Considering the job in front of Studrawa in Baton Rouge, the timing is … let's say, less than ideal. After a turnover-strewn encore in 2008, Crowton's attack bottomed out in 2009, coming in dead last in the SEC in total offense, next-to-last in rushing and 10th in scoring; in 2010, it finished 11th in total offense and brought up the rear in passing. This year, with a senior quarterback, former five-star recruits at all the skill positions and four returning starters on the offensive line, the stage is set for a major leap forward — a significant enough leap, anyway, to allow the first-rate defense and special teams to keep the Tigers on track for a run at SEC and BCS championships. That is not a light torch to pass.
In Kragthorpe's case, though, all of that is now in the backseat. Godspeed for a tough, productive battle against a very patient opponent.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.