UIW hires Texas Tech offensive coordinator as head coach

Eric Morris, who directed the Red Raiders' prolific offenses the past five seasons, succeeds Larry Kennan.

The University of the Incarnate Word has a new head football coach.

Eric Morris, offensive coordinator at Texas Tech the past five seasons, has been hired to succeed Larry Kennan, UIW athletic director Brian Wickstrom announced in a news release Saturday.

Kennan was fired in late November after the Cardinals finished 1-10 overall and 1-7 in the Southland Conference. UIW went 20-46 in six seasons under Kennan, and were 12-30 in the SLC during that span.

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“Eric Morris has been a very successful student, football player and coach,” Wickstrom said in the news release. “Since UIW Athletics has moved to the highest level of Division I competition, I am excited to have a coach of Eric's caliber be the one to help turn our program into a nationally competitive program. I am excited for our student-athletes and our campus community to be a part of the next steps of UIW Athletics.”

Morris, 32, was the last member of Kliff Kingsbury's original coaching staff at Tech. He is the third head football coach in the history of UIW, which kicked off its first season in 2009 as an NCAA Division II independent.

“I'm excited about the vision and the leadership that Dr. Evans (UIW president Thomas Evans) and Dr. Wickstrom have established for UIW athletics,” Morris said in the news release. “They've been awesome throughout this process. To have what I see as a power-five president and a power-five athletic director to help generate the resources we need to get the program where it needs to go is exciting.

“San Antonio is a great place for my wife and I to raise our family. It's also a football-rich city with a lot of untapped resources and recruits. There's a bunch of new blood at UIW, and the future is very bright. We're going to have wholesale change in a lot of ways. It's something I'm excited to be a part of.”

A news conference to introduce Morris will be scheduled when UIW reopens after the Christmas break, according to the news release.

Morris directed one of the most prolific offenses in the country during his five-season tenure at Tech, with the Red Raiders ranking among the top 20 teams in total offense and top 10 in passing offense. Tech averaged more than 30 points per game during Morris' tenure and set the single-season school record with 45.1 points a game in 2015.

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The Red Raiders went to three bowls while Morris was on the Tech coaching staff. The Red Raiders lost to South Florida 38-34 in the Birmingham Bowl last week, finishing 6-7. Tech ranked 10th nationally in passing offense (333.7) and 16th in total offense (474.6). They led the country in total offense (566.6) last year, when they passed for 463 yards a game.

A native of Shallowater, Morris was a wide receiver at Texas Tech four seasons and graduated from the Lubbock school in 2008. He started his coaching career at the University of Houston in 2010, and was also an assistant coach at Washington State under former Tech coach Mike Leach in 2012. He joined Kingsbury's staff as co-offensive coordinator in 2013, and became offensive coordinator the Red Raiders' offensive coordinator the next year.

Kennan, an assistant coach with the 1983 Los Angeles Raiders when they won Super Bowl XVIII, helped UIW make the transition from NCAA Division II to the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) as a member of the SLC.

The Cardinals had two winning seasons under Kennan, finishing 6-5 in 2013 and 2015.

UIW played in Division II as a member of the Lone Star Conference for three seasons (2010-12) before moving to the FCS in 2013. After one season as an FCS independent, the Cardinals moved to the SLC in 2014.