Sunday, December 28, 2014

Coaching Updates

Lots and nothing has happened since my last post.  A strange combination, no?

First of all, WR Coach/Recruiting Coordinator David Beaty took the HC job at Kansas - that one hurts on the recruiting front.

Sumlin also relieved OL coach, BJ Anderson, of his duties.

All things point to Utah OC, Dave Christensen, officially being introduced at some point this week as OL Coach/Run Game Coordinator (Spav will still be the OC and will call plays)

Christensen was previously the HC at Wyoming and prior to that, the OC at Mizzou during their glory years with Chase Daniels.  This, by all indications, is a home run hire.

In terms of DC, we've heard essentially every combination of candidates imaginable.

Muschamp did sign with Auburn, Pelini took the HC job at Youngstown State, and Dave Steckel took the HC job at Missouri State.  Sumlin passed on both Pelini and Steckel, and has also showed zero interest in Venables.

Foster is still out there although rumors are that he has signed an extension - but I haven't seen anything official on that front.

There has also been a combo hire floated of Greg Mattison and Florida DC D.J. Durkin.  That would be pretty stout.

Then last week, there were rumors floating that LSU DC, John Chavis, was insulted by his contract extension offer and has engaged in talks with Sumlin.  Chavis would be OUTSTANDING.  I think he is the #1 DC in the country outside of Nick Saban - who isn't even a DC.

Sumlin has mentioned that he will likely have all three positions finalized by the end of this coming week.  We'll have to see - should be exciting.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Potential Defensive Coordinators?


When Sumlin hired Coach Snyder, I felt it was an underwhelming hire but looking back, it was probably in line with where we were as a program/defense.  It was a big hire in terms of importance and it didn't work out, which makes this hire even more important.

It has been said that this go-round Sumlin has an open checkbook to make this hire and all rumors are pointing to us swinging for the fences.

It just so happened that Will Muschamp was fired from his head coaching position by Florida, instantly making him the top defensive coordinator available.  Shortly after Sumlin let go of Snyder, Auburn followed suit and let go their DC and threw their name in the ring.  There are also very strong rumors that South Carolina is going after him - but they haven't fired their DC yet.

I think he is the #1 target for Coach Sumlin and the rest of the candidates hinge on his decision.

Will Muschamp
  • Georgia '94
  • Base 4-3 defense
  • 2001 LSU - Linebackers
  • 2002-2003 LSU - Defensive Coordinator
  • 2004-2005 Miami Dolphins - Asst HC/Co-DC
  • 2006-2007 Auburn - Defensive Coordinator
  • 2008-2010 texas - Defensive Coordinator/Head Coach in Waiting
  • 2011-2014 Florida - Head Coach
            Rush D      PassD       Total D   Scoring D
          ==========  ==========  ==========  =========
2002 LSU  134.1 (40)   152.7 (2)   286.8 (8)  18.3 (15)
2003 LSU   67.0 (3)    185.0 (18)  252.0 (1)  11.0 (1)
2004 NFL  ----------  ----------  ----------  ---------
2005 NFL  ----------  ----------  ----------  ---------
2006 AUB  124.2 (45)  168.2 (14)   292.3 (19) 13.9 (7)
2007 AUB  124.7 (29)  173.2 (6)    297.9 (6)  16.9 (6) 
2008 tu    83.5 (3)   259.4 (104)  342.9 (51) 18.8 (18)
2009 tu    72.4 (1)   179.6 (19)   251.9 (3)  16.7 (12)
2010 tu   139.6 (44)  161.6 (6)    300.2 (6)  23.7 (49)
2011 FLA  132.7 (40)  166.9 (7)    299.5 (8)  21.3 (20)
2012 FLA   93.9 (4)   192.5 (17)   287.5 (5)  14.5 (5)
2013 FLA  142.4 (33)  171.8 (7)    314.3 (8)  21.1 (15)
2014 FLA  116.8 (12)  194.2 (23)   311.0 (9)  21.2 (24)

There isn't much more that needs to be said.  His defenses are always sick.  Only twice since 2002 has his defense been worse than 9th in the country - across four different schools.

He also coached under Nick Saban from 2001-2005. 

The biggest concern, in my opinion, is that if we hire Coach Boom, we're going to go through this entire ordeal again in a couple of years because he's going to get another HC opportunity.  

Bud Foster
  • Murray State '80
  • Base 4-2-5 defense
1981-1982 Murray State - Grad Asst
1983-1985 Murray State - Outside LB
1986 Murray State - Outside & Inside LB
1987-1992 Virginia Tech - Outside LB
1993-1994 Virginia Tech - Outside/Inside LB & Special Teams
1995 Virginia Tech - Co-Defensive Coordinator
1996-2014 Virginia Tech - Defensive Coordinator

         Rush D      PassD      Total D   Scoring D
      ==========  ==========  ==========  =========
1999   75.9 (2)               247.3 (3)    10.5 (1)
2000   99.3 (16)  224.4 (77)  323.6 (27)   22.6 (45)
2001   71.6 (2)   166.3 (8)   237.9 (2)    13.4 (2)
2002  121.4 (29)  213.6 (56)  335.1 (32)   18.8 (21)
2003  136.0 (39)  231.5 (76)  367.5 (51)   23.0 (45)
2004  115.2 (21)  152.8 (4)   268.0 (4)    12.9 (2)
2005   93.4 (8)   154.2 (3)   247.6 (1)    12.9 (2)
2006   91.2 (11)  128.2 (1)   219.5 (1)    11.0 (1)
2007   86.6 (5)   210.3 (31)  296.9 (4)    16.1 (3)
2008  104.4 (14)  175.0 (16)  279.4 (7)    16.7 (9)
2009  128.4 (40)  167.1 (11)  295.5 (12)   15.6 (9)
2010  155.9 (64)  205.6 (40)  361.5 (52)   20.6 (26)
2011  104.1 (14)  200.6 (31)  304.6 (10)   17.6 (7)
2012  134.1 (28)  199.1 (24)  333.2 (18)   22.9 (32)
2013  110.9 (10)  172.7 (8)   283.6 (4)    19.3 (11)
2014  144.8 (41)  186.8 (14)  331.7 (17)   20.4 (17)

Once in the last 11 seasons has his team been outside of the top 20 in total defense. Wow.

Foster has coached with Frank Beamer for his entire career, starting as a GA in 1981 when Beamer took over the Murray State HC job. He has always been a defacto HC in Waiting at Virginia Tech, turning down countless jobs, but in recent years he has started to inquire about HC jobs as they come open.

So why now?  There are some who think that Foster might now be passed over by VT when Beamer retires in order to get fresh blood in the program.  He doesn't even need to worry about a new wardrobe - bring all your Hokie maroon with you.

Honestly, this would be a HUGE hire.

If Muschamp is 1A, then Bud Foster is 1B

I also have to respect his hat bill - that's good work there

Brent Venables
  • Kansas State '92
  • Base 4-2-5 defense
  • 1993-1998 Kansas State - Linebackers
  • 1999-2003 Oklahoma - Co-DC/Linebackers
  • 2004-2011 Oklahoma - Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
  • 2012-2014 Clemson - Defensive Coordinator
            Rush D      PassD       Total D   Scoring D
          ==========  ==========  ==========  =========
2002 OU   107.9 (14)  185.3 (25)  293.1 (10)  15.4 (6)
2003 OU   113.2 (20)  146.4 (2)   259.6 (3)   15.3 (5)
2004 OU    94.6 (6)   204.4 (48)  299.0 (13)  16.8 (11)
2005 OU    90.6 (4)   216.1 (56)  306.7 (13)  23.1 (37)
2006 OU    98.7 (16)  188.4 (41)  287.1 (16)  17.3 (19)
2007 OU   110.3 (17)  228.1 (59)  338.4 (26)  20.3 (19)
2008 OU   116.5 (20)  251.5 (99)  367.7 (68)  24.5 (58)
2009 OU    92.9 (8)   179.7 (20)  272.6 (8)   14.5 (7) 
2010 OU   148.9 (58)  212.9 (51)  361.9 (53)  21.8 (33)
2011 CLEM 176.9 (83)  217.5 (50)  394.4 (71)  29.3 (81)
2012 CLEM 155.9 (57)  240.3 (71)  396.2 (63)  24.9 (48)
2013 CLEM 155.7 (52)  201.0 (16)  356.7 (25)  22.2 (24)
2014 CLEM  97.7 (7)   161.9 (3)   259.6 (1)   17.6 (7)

Brent Venables is a great defensive coach, and a very good recruiters, but I can't stand him.  Mostly it is from the way the Corey Nelson recruitment went.  That said, I was able to work past the same issue with Kingsbury a couple years ago so I could make due.

I don't think he is in quite the same cut as the two guys I have above - and the numbers show it.  He left OU because Bob Stoops wanted to hire his brother, whichever one just got fired from where ever, to be their DC.

His defense is known to be fluid in terms of formations - and he likes to blitz and blitz and blitz some more.

Bo Pelini
  • Ohio State '90
  • Base 4-3 defense
  • 1994-1996 San Francisco 49ers - Defensive Backs
  • 1997-1999 New England Patriots - Linebackers
  • 2000-2002 Green Bay Packers - Linebackers
  • 2003 Nebraska - Defensive Coordinator
  • 2004 Oklahoma - Co-Defensive Coordinator
  • 2005-2007 LSU - Defensive Coordinator
  • 2008-2014 Nebraska - Head Coach
            Rush D      PassD       Total D   Scoring D
          ==========  ==========  ==========  =========
2003 NEB  119.3 (24)  177.9 (11)  297.2 (11)  14.5 (2)
2004 OU    94.6 (6)   204.4 (48)  299.0 (13)  16.8 (11) 
2005 LSU   91.5 (6)   175.3 (11)  266.9 (3)   14.2 (3)
2006 LSU   97.1 (14)  145.7 (3)   242.8 (3)   12.3 (4)
2007 LSU  106.1 (12)  182.7 (9)   288.8 (3)   19.9 (19)
2008 NEB  116.2 (21)  233.4 (89)  349.9 (55)  28.5 (80)
2009 NEB   93.1 (9)   178.9 (18)  272.0 (7)   10.4 (1)
2010 NEB  153.1 (63)  153.6 (5)   306.8 (11)  17.4 (9)
2011 NEB  158.5 (64)  192.2 (18)  350.7 (37)  23.4 (42)
2012 NEB  192.5 (90)  168.1 (4)   360.6 (35)  27.6 (58)
2013 NEB  156.2 (53)  214.6 (33)  370.8 (40)  24.8 (50)
2014 NEB  176.5 (78)  196.3 (26)  372.8 (48)  24.8 (48)

Bo Pelini is one of those guys that I look at and think of being a defensive coordinator for life.  He is a really good defensive coordinator - I'd even go so far as to say elite.  He's a decent head coach, but his bread and butter is coaching up defenses.

Like Muschamp, Pelini was fired from his head coaching gig at Nebraska within the last few weeks.  He was consistently good but never great - winning 9 games, 10 games, 10 games, 9 games, 10 games, 9 games, 9 games.  It wasn't enough for the Huskers.

Frankly, just employing him to have the Fake Pelini twitter account stay alive would be doing the entire college football world a huge favor.

Also like Muschamp, I think Pelini will get another head coaching job within the next couple of years.


There are also whispers of guys like Greg Mattison (DC at Michigan - who just fired HC Brady Hoke) or Dave Steckel (DC at Mizzou) or Gene Chizik (former Auburn HC).

Mattison is a great coach but I don't break out in a smile when I think of my excitement level.  I would take him - but it would be one of those "awe man, we missed out on ______" and then in a year or so realize how well he's doing.

Steckel is probably the least sexy name on the list but I'd be very pleased with him - his Mizzou defenses have been stout - particularly up front, but he has been with Gary Pinkel since the dawn of time and I'd be really surprised if he took a lateral move within conference.

Chizik?  No thanks.  He had a few good seasons but overall he a cut below all the guys I've listed above.  I also can't get the image of him wearing his black leather jacket during the Cam Newton season, which for reasons unknown to me just drives me crazy.  Also - need to steer clear of the Chiz Rags.

Hopefully, Sumlin can get the right guy in the right time frame.  All of our mid-term recruits need to know who their coach will be before they finalize their decisions.  I felt like the process of hiring Snyder took too long back in '12 and we lost out on a couple of JUCO defensive players that could have really helped us.

Sunday, December 7, 2014


What a crazy weekend for college football with the first playoff announcement coming on the heels of a full slate of Championship games yesterday.

I'll start with the A&M news. We have drawn West Virginia in the Liberty Bowl.  /Golf clap

Of course, I'm not thrilled playing a Big 12 team - at least it is one of the new Big 12 teams and not one we've played before.  The big dump on this bowl is that it is a Monday Dec. 29th at 1pm kickoff.  That sucks. 

Throughout the day, it looked like we were either going to the Music City Bowl vs. Notre Dame, the Independence Bowl vs. Miami, or the Texas Bowl vs. the horns. 

As it ended up - both teams in the Liberty Bowl were 7-5 and both teams in the Texas Bowl were 6-6.  LSU got the matchup with Notre Dame, South Carolina got the matchup with Miami, and Arky is going to run over the horns.  At least the Independence Bowl is on a Saturday.

I also think this is a tough draw for the Ags.  I obviously, don't know a whole bunch about WVU this year but I know that they beat Baylor and that a Dana Holgerson offense with two or three weeks to prepare is going to be tough for our bad defense - even more so without a DC.

It is what it is.  Go better than 7-5 and you get a better bowl.

The playoffs announcement was much more exciting.  Let me give a little backstory.

Last week the committee met and put out the following rankings:
  1. Alabama
  2. Oregon
  3. TCU
  4. FSU
  5. Ohio St
  6. Baylor
TCU had leapfrogged FSU, which was a pretty big deal since only the top 4 teams get in.

TCU and Baylor were both 10-1 on the season - but Baylor had defeated TCU in their head-to-head matchup, but then lost to West Virginia.  That gave them the head-to-head advantage but also gave them a much worse loss than TCU (who only lost to Baylor).

The Big 12 then came out and said that they will treat both teams as Co-Champions if they both won their games this weekend (even though their by-laws says that head-to-head is the deciding factor).  The Big 12 does not play a Conference Championship Game like the other big four conferences do but instead tag another bye week into their schedule and play their final conference game for several teams on the day of all the conference championships.

So this weekend in the championship games: Alabama beats #16 Mizzou, Oregon beats #7 Arizona, Florida State slides bye #10 Georgia Tech, and Ohio State throttles #13 Wisconsin.  Then TCU beats Iowa State and Baylor beats #9 KSU.

Ohio State has a little back story as well - in week 2 they lost to Virginia Tech at home - by far the worst loss of the top 6 teams.  Their Heisman contendor QB, Braxton Miller, injured his shoulder just before the season started so they had to go with redshirt freshman, J.T. Barrett, at QB. So Barrett lost in his second career start to a Bud Foster defense and then went on to become a Heisman candidate himself....until he hurt himself in the Buckeye's final regular season game and will miss the rest of the season.  So sophomore, Cardell Jones, makes his first career start against Wisconsin in the Big 10 Championship game and the Buckeyes win FIFTY NINE to ZERO.

So the final rankings come out this morning and look like this:
  1. Alabama
  2. Oregon
  3. FSU
  4. Ohio State
  5. Baylor
  6. TCU
There is, of course, outcry - as expected. There are several factors working here....

First of all, Florida State is not the third best team in the country.  I think they would lose to every other team listed there.  The problem is that they were the only undefeated team and that is some sort of magical force field in college football.  They moved ahead of TCU because they beat a very good GT while TCU beat an ISU team that had one conference win (regardless of how badly they beat them).

Secondly, the Big 12 screwed it's teams - in several ways.  First of all, they are structured to not have a Conference Championship.  That is one less game against a formidable opponent.  So BU and TCU are each 11-1 while all the other teams are 12-1. 

Then the Big 12 tried to take the safe route and at the last minute claim them both as Co-Champs, hoping that either team having the title attached to them would boost them - but in fact, I think it hurt them because there is no differentiation.  Baylor won the head to head and should have been the Big 12 Champ. 

The entire reason we have gone to a playoff is to let the teams settle it on the field - but then you want us to discard that when determining who makes the playoff?

But here is the kicker - the Big 12's entire season long slogan was "One True Champion".  I'm going to laugh at that one for years to come.

That said, I think that tOSU would not have necessarily leapt over the Big 12 team (likely Baylor) had they not looked so dominant in their Conference Championship game.  Had they won, 24-21 or 35-27 I think we would have seen them left out.  To their credit, they played that additional game and used it as a platform to their advantage.

Thirdly, strength of schedule.  Not all conferences are created equal - going 12-1 in the SEC is not the same as going 12-1 in the Big 10.  It is understandable that some teams can't control their conference schedule - but they can control their out of conference schedule.  FSU knows that the ACC is a bad conference so they bolstered their resume by scheduling non-conference games with Florida, Oklahoma State, and Notre Dame.  We all realize that those three teams happened to have down years, but the attempt by FSU was appreciated by the committe.

TCU did play Minnesota, who just out of sheer luck for TCU had their best season in recent memory.  Baylor's best OoC game was against Buffalo.  Baylor played the weakest OoC schedule in the entire country - #128 out of 128.

I don't have a problem with the way the rankings and spots played out - I do think that if you stuck all the teams on the field Baylor would be a tougher draw than TCU, FSU, or tOSU but the selection committee didn't want to set the precedent that you could play less games against weaker teams and still get in.

Like they say, it sucks to BU.

There are a few things that I did not like that came out of this weekend....
  • I don't like how "style points" became such a big deal for the last game of the season - it should matter for all 12 or 13 games, not just the last one.
  • I'm concerned about the mention of tOSU's ability to overcome having to play backup QBs....does that mean that they will look at something like that in reverse if they have a team who loses a great player at the end of the year?  Could a team get left out if they don't "overcome" losing someone to injury?
  • I also don't like the precedent that they felt that tOSU did have the "worst" loss off the three but overcame that in the weeks to follow. Would a team who loses late in the season that doesn't have an opportunity to "overcome" it be punished? Why is an early season loss less important than a late season loss? That would indicate you want your conference to schedule all you tough games as early as possible.  The playoff should not be about who finished hot, but rather the entire body of work.
  • I also don't like the precedent set by selecting 4 conference champions....because I don't think that in most years there are four conference champions that are amongst the four best teams in the country. It just kind of happened this year but usually there is one or two conferences whose top team is ranked in the mid-teens.  They wouldn't deserve to be in a four team playoff.
  • You can eliminate that by going to 8 teams, like it should have been done in the first place.  Take all 5 conference champs + 3 at large
Anyways, Alabama will face Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl and Oregon will face FSU in the Rose Bowl.

TCU ended up matched against Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl and Baylor got Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl.  Both should be really interesting games. 

In terms of coaching replacements for A&M's staff- there isn't anything of note that has occurred yet.  I'll try to hash out some scenarios if I get time before the decision is made.