Monday, December 17, 2012

Catching up hires ALL OF THE COACHES

You're hired, generic son of legendary coach: Amazingly, Skip Holtz might end up being the only coach among those fired this offseason to get rehired this offseason; Louisiana Tech picked him up Friday to replace Sonny Dykes (and coach in only the best-est bowl games).

All things considered, Holtz could have done a lot worse for himself since Louisiana Tech is an OK program (albeit in Conference USA, which is the new WAC since the Big East is the new Conference USA) that's generated big-time-ish jobs for both of its last two coaches. The question is whether Louisiana Tech could have done any better; Holtz is more of a manager type than a playcaller type, and his management at South Florida was terrible since USF went from pretty good when he took over to pretty awful by the time he got fired, going 2-14 in Big East play over the last two years with an offense that was flat-out unwatchable despite Holtz allegedly having been a Division I coordinator at one point. That said, he won two Conference USA titles at East Carolina right before going to USF and did reasonably well at UConn before that, and his overall record is a respectable 88-71. Also, Louisiana Tech is still Louisiana Tech, one 9-3 season notwithstanding.

An absolutely perfect quote from Louisiana Tech president Dan Reneau at Holtz's introductory presser:
"The success he has had throughout his career as a head coach is solid."
Solid. Buy your season tickets now! I'm pretty skeptical that Holtz will be able to maintain anything resembling an eight-/nine-win pace but don't see any reason Tech can't be a regular bowl team (insert joke here) in Conference USA as long as the offense is closer to the Dykes version than the Holtz-at-USF version.

Because why not: Temple has a coach (a new one for the third time in four years):
Temple has hired New York Giants assistant Matt Rhule as its next head coach.

Rhule, 37, an assistant at Temple before joining the Giants as assistant offensive line coach in March, was one of the final two candidates for the job. University of Miami defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio withdrew from consideration, according to The Associated Press.
Woo assistant offensive line coach! Really, what's way more relevant than what he was doing with the Giants is what he had been doing with Temple: Rhule was quarterbacks coach/offensive coordinator for the previous six years before this one, and he actually interviewed for the head coaching job in 2011 before Steve Addazio somehow Red Bull-ed his way into getting hired.

Statistically, the numbers in that time were pretty uninspiring, but (a) Temple was TERRIBLE when Rhule showed up with Al Golden and (b) there was linear improvement from "holy hell" to "average," which means something given the terribleness.

A useful bit of information from ESPN's Andrea Adelson:
When (Rhule) spent time as recruiting coordinator during the 2006 and 2007 seasons, Temple's classes ranked No. 1 in the MAC. In 2008, as well. There is nobody out there better acquainted with what it takes to win at Temple and what is needed to win at Temple.
The only thing: That was in the MAC. Temple's in the Big East now, which ... uhhh ... never mind. But still, Temple went 4-7 overall and 2-5 in the Big East this year and has basically none of the things that inherently generate success. In that regard, Rhule at least knows what he's getting into; the question is whether he can do anything about it and keep Temple relevant-ish rather than whatever Temple was for the many years before Golden got there.

Ummm P.J. Fleck?!? Western Michigan likes 'em young:
Western Michigan has hired 32-year-old Tampa Bay Buccaneers assistant P.J. Fleck, making him the youngest coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision, according to a person familiar with the decision.

Fleck has worked for Bucs coach Greg Schiano the past three years. Fleck was the receivers coach at Rutgers for two years before following Schiano to Tampa Bay this season to do the same job.

Fleck played receiver for Northern Illinois from 1999-2003 and spent two season in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers before starting his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Ohio State under Jim Tressel in 2006.
Great googly moogly. I remember P.J. Fleck. I'm so old.

Anyway, Western Michigan was pretty consistently one of the better programs in the MAC for the last decade under Bill Cubit; the problem was that being "one of the better programs in the MAC" yielded zero MAC title game appearances and obviously zero MAC titles, hence Cubit getting fired last month after a 4-8 season with an overall record of 51-47.

Fleck's obviously worked under some pretty decent coaches but has done so for all of, like, six years. He's basically the MAC version of Kliff Kingsbury except without the playcalling experience; he's done nothing other than coach receivers, although I assume he's amazing as a recruiter since he's basically the same age as the dude he's recruiting (which makes him the opposite of Cubit, who's 59).

Whether that translates to actual coaching-type stuff is unknown. I mean, there isn't even any data to parse through. And if it doesn't, he probably be at Western Michigan very long since the administration is setting the bar pretty high (like at "MAC title or bust"). So win some MAC titles, man who's basically the same age as me.

More MACtion: Kent State is replacing Darrell Hazell with a guy who looks a lot like Darrell Hazell:
Paul Haynes, who spent last season as Arkansas' defensive coordinator, will be named Kent State's coach Tuesday, a source told ESPN's Brett McMurphy.

Haynes is an alum of Kent State, where he walked on as a defensive back in 1987. He played four seasons and finished as the school's seventh all-time leading tackler.

Before joining Arkansas in 2011, he was an assistant for seven seasons at Ohio State as the Buckeyes' defensive backs coach from 2005-10. He also was an assistant at Louisville and Michigan State.
The Arkansas defense definitely regressed some this year, but whether that was more due to Haynes' playcalling inexperience or the general tire fire that was all things Arkansas is hard to say. I remember him being pretty highly regarded as a defensive backs coach, and I imagine that he's done a decent amount of recruiting in Ohio (obviously). In that regard, he's basically Darrell Hazell: Hazell was receivers coach and assistant head coach at Ohio State before getting the Kent State job, so I guess Kent State is just going back to the same well and hoping for the same awesomeness.

That said, anything resembling the same level of awesomeness is pretty unlikely; Kent State has won conference title ever (!), that coming in 1972, and really hadn't been good at any point in my lifetime prior to this year. Just finishing above .500 on a fairly regular basis would qualify as success and probably result in Haynes getting whatever random Big Ten/Big East job is open a couple years from now.

San Jose State has a coach: It's a guy you've never heard of:
San Jose State has hired Ron Caragher as its new head coach, the school announced on Monday via press release.

Caragher has spent the last six seasons as the head coach at the University of San Diego. He'll replace Mike MacIntyre, who left to take over at Colorado a week ago.
FYI, Caragher went 44-22 in five years at San Diego (the FCS one) after Jim Harbaugh left; he presumably has at least somewhat of a coaching/recruiting network in the California area, which along with his way-above-.500 record probably made him a relatively attractive candidate for a program that may or may not be in the FBS in five years despite being ranked right now. He also was a receivers coach at UCLA and a running backs coach at Kentucky before getting the San Diego job, so there's some FBS experience extant, which yay.

Beyond that, I have no reaction. It's San Jose State; Caragher will either do relatively well (anything above .500, basically) and get a better job in about three years or do poorly and go unnoticed since it's San Jose State.

Florida State has a D-coordinator: According to the internet, that D-coordinator is Jeremy Pruitt, currently Alabama's defensive backs coach. This is everything you need to know about Pruitt: He's 37, he's been at Alabama for two years (before which time he was a high school D-coordinator at powerhouse Hoover in Alabama) and he was hired in 2007 as "director of player development," aka "guy who doesn't really do anything except recruit because he knows all the high school coaches." There is one of these guys on every staff; trust me.

So whether he's actually a good coach is pretty hard to say. I mean, yeah, Alabama's secondary is awesome; Alabama's secondary also had about eleventeen All-Americans when Pruitt got there and is largely coached by Nick Saban. A very apt assessment from Tomahawk Nation:
There are a couple of ways one can view the promotion. One is that Saban has to trust Pruitt well enough to let him coach defensive backs.

Another view is that Saban is still very hands-on with the defensive backs, which are his specialty, as is Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, and that Pruitt might be on Alabama's staff to be a recruiter more than anything.

The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Alabama's defenses have been great while Pruitt has been there, but also great before he arrived. And there is almost no way to separate the play of Alabama's defensive backs and attribute certain things to Pruitt and not Saban.

What is a fact, however is that Pruitt has no experience as a defensive coordinator at any level of college or pro football. He does have experience as a defensive coordinator at a very high level of high school football, but the amount of game planning and complexity of attack changes a bit in college.
Considering the pure volume of talent at Florida State right now and the amount of money that was reportedly offered to Ellis Johnson (something like $800K a year) before he took the D-coordinator job at Auburn, I don't think there's any doubt Jimbo Fisher could have found somebody with, like, an actual track record if he'd wanted one. So hiring the 37-year-old with zero relevant experience seems ... I dunno .. risky? Nonsensical? Something?

It's unlikely that the guy's gonna be able to maintain the typical level of awesomeness Mark Stoops established, but there must be an assumption that he either (a) is so good as a recruiter that the increase in talent will make up for any difference in coaching ability (unlikely) or (b) gleaned so much from Nick Saban/Kirby Smart that he's become an elite D-coordinator despite not actually being one. I'm guessing it's more of the latter since Pruitt was allegedly in line to take over at Bama if Smart had gotten a head coaching job; an endorsement from Saban as being ready to be a D-coordinator is as good an endorsement as any, I suppose. So still risky but less nonsensical, basically.

I blame Lane Kiffin for no reason: According to the twitters, Tennessee has new helmets:

If this were Facebook, I would like that photo so, so hard. I'm all in favor of tweaking uniforms/helmets/whatever to incorporate more traditionally identifiable things like Tennessee's endzone checkerboard, which might be the most identifiable endzone thing in existence; basically, that helmet is even more units of Tennessee than the old helmet. What I'm not in favor of is randomly turning everything black/matte/chrome/whatever because black/matte/chrome/whatever is the coolest. That and whatever Maryland's been doing.

Wiscaansin problems: The problem with looking for a coach after everybody else has already hired one: You're also gonna be looking for most of a staff since the one you had will probably be pretty thoroughly picked apart. To be more specific:
Several Wisconsin assistants are making moves or considering them as the school's search for a head coach continues.

One of those assistants, offensive coordinator Matt Canada, has made his decision. He'll be joining NC State in the same capacity.

Canada reunites with Dave Doeren, whom he worked for at Northern Illinois in 2011.
So Wisconsin is now down both coordinators and four position coaches and apparently isn't that close to finishing its coaching search based on what Barry Alvarez has been saying. I don't really have anything else to add here -- obviously, finding the right coach is the most important thing, regardless of the time frame -- but here's a valid line from Tom Fornelli at CBS Sports:
The problem here is that even if Alvarez finds the guy he wants for the job, at this point in the game it could be harder for that new coach to find the assistants he wants. The coaching carousel only spins for so long before it's time for everybody to get back to work.
Indeed. On a related noted, there have been some credible interwebz reports that Barry Alvarez is intrigued by the idea of coaching again and would like to subscribe to its newsletter. But these words ...
"I have one more to visit with, and then we'll sit down and decide on the best person. I feel good about the candidates we've interviewed. ... I'll hire a good coach."
... doesn't sound like those of a guy who's considering hiring himself.

Nottingham be gone: Brett Nottingham apparently isn't a huge fan of sitting on the bench at Stanford behind a redshirt freshman:
Stanford football coach David Shaw announced Saturday that junior quarterback Brett Nottingham plans to transfer.

Shaw said during practice that Nottingham would be leaving the eighth-ranked Cardinal (11-2), who won the Pac-12 title and will play Big Ten champion Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1.
Nottingham was the nominal backup last year behind Andrew Luck but got beat out by Josh Nunes and then Kevin Hogan this year despite a recruiting profile with many, many stars. All told, he's thrown 16 passes in his career, going 5 for 8 in each of the last two years. The sample size: It's small. Really, all that's known is that he was roughly the equivalent of the two other guys at Stanford who've been OK but not great (although Hogan might turn out to be pretty good based on his similarly small sample size).

He should have some options, though, based on his presumed awesomeness coming out of high school. Blockquote above notwithstanding, he's actually a redshirt sophomore, so if he goes the FBS route (which seems likely), he'll have to sit out 2013 and then will have one year of eligibility left afterward. No word yet as to whether that's what he intends to do; if it is, I assume Bret Bielema will be interested.

Errr what? A.J. McCarron's chest tattoo is more amazing than ever:

I don't even know, man.


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