Sunday, December 11, 2011

Catching up would have dominated the NFL

Ohio State has coordinator-type guys: Urban Meyer likes to be extremely vague with his coaching hires and give guys weird titles that don't necessarily mean what they say. Fortunately for me, he's being very explicit about who will run the defense:
"Luke Fickell will have the (coordinator) title," Meyer told WBNS radio in Columbus in a short interview Tuesday. "It might be co, it might not, but at the end of the day, he'll be calling the defense."
That last phrase is bolded for emphasis. Fickell will be the defensive coordinator regardless of who else comes on board, which is interesting for the following reason: Fickell has never been a true D-coordinator. He was linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator under Tressel, then jumped all the way up to interim head coach last year. Jim Heacock was OSU's D-coordinator and defensive playcaller for the past seven years, and before him it was Mark Dantonio. So Fickell will be in uncharted territory. It's not totally clear if Meyer's still trying to bring in Mike Stoops (doubtful given the lack of a meaningful role) or Everett Withers from North Carolina, but a co-coordinator seems likely for the aforementioned reasons.

As for the offense (pending Meyer's role in playcalling):
Ohio State has hired Iowa State assistant Tom Herman to be its new quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator under Urban Meyer. Athletic director Gene Smith confirmed the hiring on Friday.

Herman, 35, has served as Iowa State’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach the past three seasons.
You don't know anything about Tom Herman because nobody knows anything about Tom Herman. His experience consists of three uninspiring years at Iowa State (73rd, 99th and 55th in total offense) following two years as O-coordinator at Rice (51st and eighth in total offense). The one really good year was also the one year he had a good quarterback (Chase Clement), but whether that's a result of coaching or blah talent at Rice and Iowa State is impossible to say, especially given the relatively small sample size. He was definitely a spread-to-run guy at Iowa State and a spread-to-pass guy at Rice under David Bailiff; that's pretty much the extent of his track record. Meyer hasn't really discussed (at least not that I've seen) what the extent of his involvement with the offense will be.

So ... Ohio State's new coordinators are Luke Fickell and Tom Herman, both of whom could be anything from great to bad. I gotta be honest: Given Meyer's track record and alleged desirability, I expected his two biggest hires to have more than one good year of coordinating (and 73 years of existence) between them.

Joe Paterno has a broken hip: Joe Paterno falling at his home isn't really noteworthy in its own right but is noteworthy for what it represents: Paterno is dying. SportsbyBrooks (yeah, I know) reported this the other day:
... a Penn State Athletic Department source, who asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak for the Paterno family, told SbB:

“Joe is a lot closer to dying soon than the public is aware. … It is very bad. it (cancer) is much worse than the family has let on. … This may be his last Christmas.”

The source added that the former coach’s fall was a result of “his weakened state from cancer and the treatments he’s been receiving.”
Without knowing the credibility of the source (a definite issue with SbB), I'd still categorize that description that description as either "plausible" or "likely". Paterno is 84; even though he's looked exactly the same since he was about 50, people who are 84 just aren't physically equipped to handle radiation treatment and broken hips and whatever other age-related issues we aren't even aware of. It's only a matter of time.

A friend texted me right after Paterno was fired and said, "Joe Paterno death pool? Put me down for 15 days." I responded, "No way, that guy's gonna live to be 106." He's gonna be a lot closer.

Michael Dyer suspended: Auburn suspended Michael Dyer indefinitely this week for the always-specific "violation of team rules." He'll obviously miss the Chick-fil-A Bowl against Virginia; what happens after that is unknown. Any long-term issues would be seriously problematic for an offense that was almost totally reliant on him this year due to the tire fire at quarterback. Dyer has 1,242 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns this year and a ridiculous 2,334 yards in his first two seasons. The guy is good.

There are some rumblings about a transfer based on various speculative rumors (as usual, weed is the comment-section consensus). That'd be bad regardless of how much hypothetical talent is waiting behind him. Onterrio McCalebb will presumably get a few more carries but is a totally different style of runner. Same with freshman Tre Mason and incoming transfer Mike Blakely, who was supposedly gonna be Urban Meyer's greatest running back EVER at Florida. Those guys all would be perfect as the sweep-threat component of the Cam Newton veer.

The interior running game will take a serious hit against Virginia, but it's next year that really matters at this point. Auburn has a ton of guys coming back and could be very good if Dyer is getting his 1,200 yards for Auburn rather than North Alabama (it'd also be helpful if Kiehl Frazier figures out how to play quarterback).

Auburn needs a D-coordinator: Weird coaching move of the offseason:
Auburn defensive coordinator Ted Roof was named UCF's defensive coordinator on Thursday, reuniting with Knights coach George O'Leary.

Roof was a member of O'Leary's staff at Georgia Tech from 1995 to 2001, spending his final three years there as defensive coordinator.
Ummm ... yeah. Auburn =/= Central Florida in terms of money or recognition or national aspirations or anything else. So WTF?

Roof was a big-time D-coordinator hire after his time as head coach at Duke but hadn't exactly been tearing it up at Auburn. Last year's defense was good enough but not really good (60th in yardage, 53rd in scoring), and this year's defense was flat-out bad (78th in yardage, 80th in scoring). Whether he had much talent other than Nick Fairley is debatable, but still. It seems pretty likely that he was either (a) "encouraged" to find another job or (b) realized that being a meh SEC coordinator doesn't offer a lot of job security and took a pretty decent offer to go work in Orlando for his one-time mentor.

The question now is who replaces him at Auburn. The worst-kept secret in the universe is that Gene Chizik has been going after Mark Stoops at Florida State, which would be a pretty fantastic hire. Side note: Chizik has some Les Miles in him in that he's smart enough to go out and get the best coordinators money can buy. Anyway, Stoops wouldn't really be taking a step up in position but could probably double his $440,000 salary at Auburn since Bobby Lowder has a bottomless wallet. I don't know who else is a serious candidate; I haven't seen any other names come out yet since Stoops appears to be at the top of the list and hasn't yet made a decision public.

Norm Parker planning to retire:
Norm Parker has been one of the best defensive coordinators in the country for basically as long as I can remember. Useful numbers: Iowa has finished in the top 10 nationally in rushing defense five times in Parker's 13 years and has finished in the top 10 in scoring defense three times in the last four years. But no mas:
The Iowa football program announced Sunday evening that longtime defensive coordinator Norm Parker will retire following the Hawkeyes' appearance in the 2011 Insight Bowl.
Parker is 70 and has some fairly serious medical issues, including the diabetes that forced his right foot to be amputated last year, so his retirement isn't surprising from a health standpoint. Iowa's defense also took a dive this year to 42nd in yardage and 68th (!) in scoring, which made it totally laughable that Parker was named AFCA assistant coach of the year a few weeks ago. He's been so good for so long that it was probably more of a career achievement award than anything.

Anyway, I'm curious to see what happens at Iowa. Parker's awesomeness has been a massively underrated factor in Kirk Ferentz's alleged awesomeness, and Ferentz is being brought up (surprise!) as a candidate for the Chiefs' head coaching job under Scott Pioli. I won't be surprised if Ferentz finally bails on Iowa. If he doesn't, he's gonna have a ginormous hole to fill on his coaching staff after 13 years with Parker. There'll be some irony if he hires an out-of-his-mind blitzer like Scott Shafer to replace a guy who was perfectly happy to go Cover-2 on every single play of every single game.

Memphis has a coach: Hey, it's Justin Fuente. Fuente popped up as an interesting candidate last offseason since he was the coordinator for TCU's pretty excellent offense that put up about 42 points a game, and this year's offense actually produced the exact same scoring average despite losing Andy Dalton.

The guy is only 35, which is infantile in the coaching world, but still might have been able to get a better head coaching job in a year or two. As it is, he takes over one of the crappiest programs in the country after Larry Porter went 3-21 in two years. Upshot from the ESPN story on Fuentes' hire:
The new coach faces major challenges, including adding better talent on offense and defense and rebuilding local interest in a football program that saw just 2,500 people attend this past season's home finale against Marshall.
Yikes. That is awful. But there's a reason the guy is getting D-I head coaching jobs despite being just slightly older than me:

Fuente said he plans to make practices accessible to the media -- something Porter did not do -- and speak at any Boy Scout or Kiwanis Club event that he is invited to as he tries to bring fans back to the program.

"I'm going to go out and beat pots and pans in the street if I have to," Fuente said.

JUSTIN FUENTE GETS IT. If he can get Memphis back to respectability, he'll be running a BCS-conference program by the time he's 40.

Jim McElwain to Colorado State (?): Speaking of offensive coordinators taking over blah programs, Colorado State officially hired Jim McElwain away from Alabama on Tuesday.

McElwain has been around as a coordinator, quarterbacks coach and special-teams coach at about a half-dozen schools, two of which were coached by Nick Saban. What's interesting is that he came to Alabama from Fresno State but withdrew his name (after interviewing) from consideration for that job, which is still open. The assumption at the time was that he was holding out for something bigger/better; a couple days later, he was signing on the dotted line at Colorado State. Possible explanation:
Concerns over the budget in the Fresno State athletic department, and its ability to sustain competitive football at the school, were a factor in McElwain's decision, sources said.
That would be an issue. Colorado State went 16-33 in four years under Steve Fairchild, but I remember a time not so long ago when CSU was pretty consistently the best team in the WAC. It shouldn't be impossible to compete in the stripped-down Mountain West at a historically good program at a good school in a nice city.

McElwain's obviously no Gus Malzahn. He's always run a pro-style-ish offense and presumably has learned to do things The Nick Saban Way (remember, Nick Saban was at Toledo at one point). He's also never been a head coach and has no real connections to the Colorado area unless you want to count his time growing up in Montana. How exactly that works out is anybody's guess, but I don't know that Colorado State could have done much better given the recent state of the program.

Toledo gives Illinois a swift kick to the groin: Toledo promoted offensive coordinator Matt Campbell to permanent head coach Tuesday, which was great news for Toledo since Campbell has been a really good O-coordinator but really bad news for Illinois since Tim Beckman said at his introductory presser that he wanted to bring Campbell along. As I mentioned at the time, Beckman is a defensive guy who generally had so-so defenses at Toledo and succeeded in large part because of Campbell's very good offenses.

BTW, Campbell is only 32 (!), so he'll be easily the youngest head coach in the FBS. A quick look back at the numbers at Toledo the last three years: eighth in yardage and eight in scoring this year, 74th and 54th last year, 13th and 38th in 2009. Not bad. He oughta be able to maintain some level of success at Toledo if he can find a capable defensive coordinator, which isn't as easy as it sounds in the MAC.

As for Illinois, Beckman's gonna have to start an actual search now (in case you're wondering, former O-coordinator Paul Petrino has already gone back to Arkansas to work with Bobby). I won't be surprised if he tries to pluck somebody off the Oklahoma State staff given his connections there.

Dayne Crist looking at Kansas: I mentioned last week that de facto free agent Dayne Crist was thought to be favoring Wisconsin but might consider Florida because of the Charlie Weis connection. The Florida thing is obviously out the window now, but Weis isn't (he couldn't fit lol zing!):
The redshirt junior visited the Kansas Jayhawks last week as they introduced new head coach Charlie Weis, who recruited Crist to South Bend.
In case you're wondering, sophomore Jordan Webb started at QB for Kansas last year and wasn't totally awful: 63.7 percent, 6.7 yards per attempt, 13 touchdowns, 12 picks. Crist would still represent a significant talent upgrade. Actually getting him to Kansas isn't a certainty, though:
Crist is currently visiting Delaware and will visit the Wisconsin Badgers later in the week, Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune reports.
I'm having a hard time envisioning him transferring to Delaware if Kansas and/or Wisconsin are interested, which they apparently are. He should get (or might already have) scholarship offers from both; the choice will probably come down to whether he prefers playing for Weis or playing for a Big Ten title.

Heisman voters laugh in your general direction: Pawwwwl Finebaum don't understand this votin' nonsense:
SOUTH (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee)

1. Griffin: 303 points
2. Richardson: 256 points
3. Luck: 182 points
Griffin had more votes/points in SEC country than he did in any other region except the Southwest. In other words, even the rest of the Southeast thinks Finebaum is an idiot when he says stuff like this:
Much heat leaving RG3 off my Heisman ballot. Nice player- but SEC defenses would have eaten him alive. Haters get a clue.

For the lame critics of my Heisman ballot, just admit- Baylor would finish 6-6 in SEC West. RG3 would be watching the ceremony on tv.
Lol yup. Credibility: He has none. Paul Finebaum is a troll with a platform who exploits talk-show listeners even more ignorant than he is.

NFL suits love them some RGIII: I really hadn't thought much about Robert Griffin's draft status before all the Heisman stuff since nobody had ever talked about him as a first-round-type guy, especially with the potential overload of quarterbacks at the top of the draft this year (Luck, Matt Barkley, Landry Jones and whoever else). So this ...
Robert Griffin III, the Baylor quarterback who beat out Luck for the Heisman Trophy, has so much promise that one NFL personnel director told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that there are people around the league who prefer Griffin to Luck. Schefter spoke to two other personnel directors, one who described Griffin as a surefire first-round pick and another who said he’ll go in the top 15.
... made me go "lolwut" and wonder who hacked Adam Schefter's Twitter account. And I love RGIII! I don't question that the guy is awesome and will probably be a good NFL quarterback; I just question whether he'll really go in the top 15 and be viewed by anybody as a better prospect than Luck, who's about as safe of a franchise quarterback as has ever existed.

In short, Adam Schefter's ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to his newsletter. I'm also intrigued by this new NFL draft in which great college players go in the first round. Crazy.

In more "lolwut" news: Remember Eric Crouch? I do, which is why I will laugh at this for several minutes and then dispute it:

“I think I could have been a great NFL quarterback,” Crouch said, according to Yahoo!’s The Postgame.

Crouch, 33, was drafted in the third round by the St. Louis Rams in 2002 after a prolific career with the Huskers and appeared on the rosters of the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs but never played an NFL game as a converted wide receiver.

“I battled some injuries. I took a lot of bad advice. I played a lot of different positions. If I could change one thing, I would have been pretty forthright about saying that quarterback was going to be my position. I’m going to play quarterback or not play at all.”

Hahahahaha no. You were a noodle-armed 52 percent passer with 18 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in your career despite playing for a still-dominant Nebraska team. The reason you never played an NFL game wasn't your willingness to switch positions; I'm pretty confident that an "I'm going to play quarterback or not play at all" ultimatum would have produced the exact same result. Just stop.


Post a Comment

Powered by Blogger.