Its natural to question the man’s job security given worst defense in school history, etc. But to hear RR come right out and say that they’ve switched to the 3-3-5 stack for the rest of the year, I think you have to put the odds at Shafer returning at 25-30%. Shaf was questioned repeatedly about running that defense in the off season, and he consistently maintained that it would be incorporated because his defense would be multiple, but that he was a 4-3 base defense guy. RR handed the defense over to Shaf, but its obvious from the changing schemes and now RR’s comments, he has felt the need to step in an exert control.
To steal a point from Steve Deace who posted this at GBW, while RR hired Shaf from the outside and gave him a ton of autonomy, Shaf didn’t make a single hire for his own staff. He concludes that the result is that the defensive performance has widened the rifts between philosophical differences in the staff. He further concludes that Shaf has made concessions to those coaches calling for change by incorporating more of their ideas, but this has turned the defense into a grab bag as opposed to one with an identity which goes multiple to keep offenses on their toes.
I personally believe that the basis for the Shafer hire was sound, and one horrific season doesn’t make him a bad coach. His track record as laid out in detail by Brian is that yr 2 under Shaf brings the results he is looking for (more sacks, more Tos). IMO his resume should buy him another season, one in which RR and the other defensive coaches fully commit to his system or are replaced (the assistants, not RR).
But based on RR’s comments I don’t think that is happening. I’m not a coach, but I don’t think anyone would argue that our best defensive players go Graham, Jamison, Taylor in some order, with Johnson and Martin filling in two of spaces in the top 7. Based on offensive personal, the defense is probably going to need to play 5 defensive backs at least half the time. (Que broken record) would you rather take out one of our 5 defensive lineman to get Bobo or Williams on the field, or do you take out a Thompson or even Ezeh? On the surface it appears that going with the 3-3-5 stack from here on out is a build for the future concession, not something that is going to help us now.
A future I think its safe to assume would not include Shafer. Which brings me to this question, what effect does the scheme change move have on recruiting? I don’t think Shaf was any sort of a gangbusters recruiter, but if you’re a DL or DE, wouldn’t you much prefer to play the 4-3? There is one extra position so more PT. And is a guy Campbell going to want to play the nose in a 3-4, and play behind Martin? Or would he rather line up next to Martin and go after the QB while the OL tries to figure out who to double? Ditto for Jones who was already shaky. How are Roh and Lolota going to feel about fighting through more consistent doubles, while fleet Lbs race around them to pick up sacks?
And what about the Lbs and Dbs we’re going to need? Right now most of our LB recruits look to be playing somewhere between 225-235 in college. Not that our starters now are having a lot of success with this, but how many of those guys are ever going to be ready to stand up MSU pulling guards or Wisky Fbs in the hole? Now we’re going to need more Dbs. M isn’t exactly lighting it up with Turner, Gordon, and maybe Peace in the fold.
If Shaf goes it is yet another hit and negative pub against M. Maybe that doesn’t matter in the blizzard of bad pub already out there, who knows. I think it is safe to say that the move will hurt recruiting because everyone is being sold on one system, and now we’re changing. And even if it doesn’t, based on current players/recruits I don’t think UM is suited for the 3-3-5 scheme.