“On the offense last year, they had great spacing. That’s what I remember. Great spacing, great shooters, like Nik Stauskas, who’s not there right now. But they always have someone to fill the roles. They have a cutting offense, kind of hard to guard.”
This is pretty weird, but bear with me: WVU appears to have hired Florida assistant Doc Holliday. Holliday is (was?) Florida's defensive backs coach and has a reputation as an outstanding recruiter. (Question: is there anyone who doesn't have a reputation as a great recruiter?) He's also a West Virginia native who played and coached at WVU for a 25-year span before leaving in 2000.
BFD, right? West Virginia's assistant coaches are their own affair. Well...
With Stan Drayton gone to Tennessee and the ever-looming possibility that assistant head coach Doc Holliday will be taking a five-year contract worth $2.5 million to become the defensive coordinator and assistant head coaching position [sic] at West Virginia, several names have popped up as potential replacements on the Florida coaching staff.
Florida premium sites are reporting the "possibility" as a done deal as of a few hours ago; this is not a drill. This Gatorsports article also mentions the possibility of Holliday coming in as assistant (to the) head coach but doesn't mention anything about defensive coordinator.
In one way, this makes sense, as moving from Florida to West Virginia to be a position coach is not even a lateral move, no offense to West Virginia. But in another this does not, as one of only two West Virginia coaches new HC Bill Stewart was able to hang on to was Jeff Casteel, who's kinda sorta already the defensive coordinator.
Would Casteel take a demotion when Rodriguez is sitting there with a defensive coordinator spot for the taking? Seems doubtful. Is WVU going to hire Holliday, name him assistant head coach, and not put him in charge of the defense? Also seems doubtful. Might want to keep an eye on this over the next couple of days.
Update: The Charleston Gazette says that Holliday is the "associate head coach in charge of tight ends and fullbacks" and recruiting coordinator. No dice here, evidently.
Fellow new hire Steve Dunlap is "assistant head coach in charge of safeties." Can I be vice regional head coach in charge of toothbrushes?
Right... UFR. Uh. Well, it's like this: without the obvious deadline of next week's game it turns out it's a lot easier to procrastinate on these things. I'm working on it but it's gonna be a bit late.
Happy Trails, Pt II. Rodriguez went to the Indiana game last night -- soon you will wise to the ways of hockey, RR -- and spoke briefly to reporters there. The bluntness from the Rome interview was not, er, blunted. On Mallett:
"He's not playing for Michigan," Rodriguez said . "I'm concerned with whose [sic] playing for Michigan. That's my concern."
Rodriguez also said that Arrington's departure is official and that Manningham didn't attend today's introductory team meeting; he's also unlikely to return. Terrelle Pryor, come on down. Also plz some other people.
Shooting Blue perused the audio available on Rivals and notes a few other newsbits: Hopson has officially been hired, but not necessarily as the defensive coordinator. Rodriguez still has to hire one more guy on that side of the ball, and that guy could be the DC. Michigan expects to field a full class of 25; some of the attrition will be medical. And Michigan will be looking for wideouts and quarterbacks in quantity.
Happy Trails? Terrance Taylor is also considering the NFL:
Muskegon coach Tony Annese said Monday that he had spoken with Taylor the previous evening and that the player had not received a report from the NFL advisory committee about his possible draft position. Annese said Taylor would not reach a decision until after he heard from the NFL.
Hopefully said report is unsatisfactory. No offense, Terrance.
Right. An official release from Michigan has the following persons in the following places:
Name â€¢ Position
Calvin Magee â€¢ Associate Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator
Tony Dews â€¢ Wide Receivers
Greg Frey â€¢ Offensive Line
Tony Gibson â€¢ Secondary
Jay Hopson â€¢ TBA; Defensive Assistant
Fred Jackson â€¢ Running Backs
Rod Smith â€¢ Quarterbacks
Bruce Tall â€¢ TBA; Defensive Assistant
Tall and Hopson are TBA with one more defensive assistant to come; though Tall did safeties for the past few years at WVU before that he did the defensive line for a couple seasons at WMU and was a DC/LB coach for nine years at Harvard and Northeastern. He could well end up the LB coach. Heck, he might have been an LB coach at WVU: the official release says he was WVU's "spur and bandit" safeties coach; those two guys are the LB/DB hybrids that often stick their nose in the box.
We should know who the final piece of the puzzle is by the weekend, according to Rodriguez. Also note that Gibson's been relieved of his duties as recruiting coordinator. Michigan has a standalone recruiting coordinator in Chris Singletary, who was retained along with most of the administrative staff. WVU's refusal to provide this sort of administrative support was one of the cited factors in Rodriguez' departure.
Word. Jim Carty's piece on Jay Bilas' obsession with Michigan is worth a read. I probably would have gone more ad hominem on Bilas, whose latest petulant outburst about the Michigan program is the second-stupidest one yet (#1 remains the suggestion that Martin should be fired for getting rid of Tommy Amaker after a mere six years), but it's rare to see a newspaper columnist bring it hard against another member of the media. This blog, on the other hand, does it all the time. So this means more coming from the Ann Arbor News:
Given that, it's probably time for someone at ESPN to suggest to Bilas that - after calling for athletic director Bill Martin's firing and now ripping a first-year coach who's in the midst of a rebuilding job - its time to leave the Wolverines alone for a while.
And time for Michigan fans to turn somewhere else for serious analysis of their basketball program.
As mentioned, word. Bilas' breathtaking lack of professionalism about this Amaker situation has permanently killed his credibility with anyone who watched Amaker's teams flail about, turn the ball over 20 times a game, and never make the NCAA tournament. Bilas -- so eager to jump all over Beilein half a year into his tenure -- apparently expected Michigan's Methuselan patience with Amaker to extend a full decade, because there's no freakin' way this team was going to the NCAA even if John Wooden was coaching them. It was fire him now or waste a year and fire him then. Or, I guess, never fire him ever because Jay Bilas once spooned with him after a Final Four game.
Heavens to Betsy. The Chicago Tribune has the most shocking news of the year:
Big Ten Network President Mark Silverman said Monday he was "cautiously optimistic" an agreement could be reached with Comcast, the largest cable distributor in the area. The parties began having "productive conversations" in December, Silverman said.
Sure, the year is only nine days old, but... !!!
The standoff here was more about tiers than cost according to the BTN, though when I talked to a Comcast VP this summer I managed to get an approximate "We would pay X to have the BTN on expanded basic" figure out of him: a quarter. That, like the BTN's widely cited (and apparently either fictional or outdated) $1.10 asking price, was likely a negotiating position and not a realistic assessment of what they would pay to get it on the basic tier. Assuming the final numbers become public here, it'll be interesting to see what the final negotiated price is. Also interesting: actually getting the BTN.
Etc.: Lloyd's cousin reflects on his career.
Rich Rodriguez was on Jim Rome this afternoon, and the news was attrition-errific. First the receivers:
"I've talked to Adrian since the bowl game a little bit and I think he's leaning toward coming out," Rodriguez said on the show. "I don't think he's made the announcement yet. I have not seen Mario, and I don't think he's back in Ann Arbor yet, so indications are that he may be coming out, as well. I want to wish them the best. I didn't know them very well. I've watched them play, and they're great players, and obviously for selfish reasons I'd like to have them come back, but if they feel that's what's best for their careers, they've got to do that, and we'll be OK as well."
"I believe he's going to transfer," Rodriguez said. "He has not told me specifically and he's told other folks in the program. I talked to him a couple times, again, before the bowl game and once after the bowl game and gave him our spiel. But, again, if he chooses to leave, he's going to make a choice that's best for him, and we'll be OK."
"I talked to him and all the quarterbacks about how our system can adapt to the quarterback because we've had throwing quarterbacks in this system that have had great careers and gone on to the NFL and all that," Rodriguez said. "But I did it a couple times (with Mallett.) I recruited him once, I recruited him twice and after the third call, I'm thinking okay, three calls is enough for me. It's a great institution and if somebody doesn't want to be here that's already here, you wish them well and move on."
I... wow. Both of those quotes are blunt as hell. The very idea that Carr would 1) deign to appear on Jim Rome and 2) actually give substantive answers to somewhat delicate things like "Will Player X leave early/transfer?" is refreshing from the point of view of the information-starved Michigan fan.
Update: Apparently Carr made a yearly appearance on Rome; 1) above withdrawn.
Manningham's grandfather has a "we're still undecided and waiting on the NFL's evaluation" quote in the same article, but I'm with Rodriguez here. Rivals has a fuller transcript; Rodriguez again repeats that he expects to sign a full 25.
DC Hello? Shooting Blue mentions Rivals is hinting one Jay Hopson likely to be Michigan's next defensive coordinator. Hopson, a grad assistant at Tulane when Rich Rodriguez was offensive coordinator there, has been Southern Miss' defensive coordinator for the past three years. Relevant statistics:
The notable gap between yardage and scoring defense in 2005 was, as you might expect, almost wholly a product of the 7th-best turnover margin in the country and is sadly not indicative of magic beans that turn touchdowns into 20-yard field goals. The rest of the results are pretty mediocre, though Southern Miss often finds itself staring down the barrell of a matchup with a Florida or Virginia Tech and operates at a severe talent disadvantage.
Unfortunately, C-USA's website -- which seems almost deliberately unhelpful -- does not provide conference-only statistics so we can measure Hopson's performance against his peers. Some rough measures: in '06 USM led the conference in pass efficiency and scoring defense and was about 12 yards back of conference leader Tulsa in yardage terms. This year they again finished first in scoring defense and finished a paltry yard behind conference leader Houston in yardage defense. Indications are that after a rough start Hopson did well enough.
We're fortunate that college football's foremost blogger, with apologies to Orson, happens to simultaneously be college football's foremost Southern Miss fan. "Hopson" brings up two hits on SMQB. The first, after a depressing 20-17 overtime loss against East Carolina:
It has to be tough to be a coordinator at Southern - the Jays (Johnson on offense, Hopson on defense) are each the fourth in their respective positions in the last decade, but not much changes in scheme or result. The offense is relentlessly conservative, in a near-constant bog, while the defense is stretched to the breaking point to hang on to some kind of control. At a sparsely attended game like Saturday's, USM fans have pretty much free reign on the field afterwards, and SMQ took the North end zone as a shortcut to his car. When he ran across Hopson en route to the locker room, he told the coach, "Nice job hanging tough by the defense," which was not much consolation but was true: it gave up a couple drives, including the 60-yard, game-tying march over the final four minutes of regulation, but it also scored as many touchdowns as either offense, on a length-of-field interception return by no-name Eddie Hicks that momentarily turned the tide at the end of a frustrating ECU drive, and held the Pirates to the field goal attempt in the overtime after allowing them to get first-and-goal at the three. Before that, on ECU's tying drive, it had done exactly the same thing, and barely allowed the touchdown on a fourth-and-inches QB draw from a five-wide shotgun set; that's six stops at the goalline within a couple of minutes - that's at least fighting. In regulation, USM's defense allowed 10 points (the first ECU touchdown was a kick return) and about 275 yards. It gave up no true big plays. You have to be able to win with that.
A second note from the same post:
USM was back in a 3-3-5 look for almost every snap Saturday (for NCAA Football aficionados, this is actually more of a 3-4 than what you would recognize as a 3-3-5 from the game, but roving safety Brandon Sumrall moves out on slot guys occasionally and isn't a true linebacker), which SMQ had thought was employed just to deal with Houston's spread, but apparently worked so well there that it's the standard set now, because ECU ran plenty of traditional fullback/tight end sets.
Hopson appears to be versed in the 3-3-5, which often looks like a 3-4 against "2x1" sets that have unbalanced personnel and often uses a not-quite a linebacker in the vein of Sumrall. There's a chance the forty bucks I dropped on Jeff Casteel's "How to run the odd stack" video won't go to waste. (Casteel evocatively described the duties of the "spur" and "bandit" safety-type objects that flank the front six in the 3-3-5 like so: the bandit is a weakside player who "gets his meat cooked," generally given the responsibility for chasing a strung out player down without having to deal with a nasty blocker. The spur "gets his meat raw" and is forced to take on tight ends and fullbacks and the like. So it wasn't a total waste in any case.)
That's all well and good and hopeful and such. This in the aftermath of a Boise State housing, not so much:
|Coordinator||W-L||Pts./Game||>20pts.||>30pts.||Yds./Game||>400 yds.||Avg. Rank-Total D|
|J. Thompson (1996-98)||25-10||19.6||16||6||-||-||-|
|D. Wommack (1999-2000)||17-8||15.0||11||2||274.7||1*||5|
|T. Nix (2001-04)||29-20||19.4||24||8||335.8||12||31.3|
|J. Hopson (2005-)||18-11||21.4||20||8||351.5||11||50|
How much of this is on Hopson's ability and how much of it is on things he can't control we won't know for a while. You can spin that "T. Nix" preceding him either way after one Tyrone Nix was run off the South Carolina campus, pitchfork-toting mob in tow:
- Nix left the defense in shambles, I say! This excuses Hopson's rough first year!
- Southern Miss coordinators are fail!
Hopson, if hired, would be a wildcard. He has some experience, some knowledge of/affinity for the stack, some success, and some decided meh going on in t
he doldrum days of a coach heading for pasture. Judgment is withheld.
Ain't believing this until January 16th, but Manningham's grandfather says MM is likely to return:
''We're 85 to 90 percent sure (that he'll) return to Michigan, unless something spectacular happens,'' Simpson said. ''He has every intention to return for his senior year unless something spectacular happens.''
"Spectacular"? The only thing that could be construed as spectacular that might occur would be a highly positive response from the NFL's draft advisory panel. Like this:
''If someone comes to you and says that you're a first-round draft choice, that weighs a lot,'' Simpson said. ''No one has said that to us, yet.''
Is Manningham a first-rounder? That seems a silly question to ask for a guy who caught 72 passes for 1100-some yards this year, but he's not exactly Braylon Edwards-sized and has reputedly had some maturity issues. Maybe he'll get a second-round grade and return to prove the haterzzzz wrong?
No, probably not.
Update: Right, forgot. FWIW: a previously-reliable insider says both Manningham and Arrington are likely to depart, and this info came yesterday. Maybe grandfather isn't in the loop.
Update II: Hey, GBN's latest draft board has Manningham #36. (Jake Long #3, Shawn Crable #44, Mike Hart #55, Chad Henne #73, and Jamar Adams #113 FWIW. Also: remember Jason Jones, the Eastern Michigan DT who had a disturbing field day against us? Legit NFL prospect who checks in at #96.)
Hokay. Barwis and his S&C staff are officially Michigan employees:
Rodriguez said Sunday that he has hired the Mountaineers' six-member strength and conditioning staff to work under him at Michigan.
"They have been an integral part of our success on the field and I know they will help us attain our desired success at Michigan," Rodriguez said in a statement.
The staff consists of director Mike Barwis; assistants Chris Allen, Parker Whiteman and Kentaro Tamura; and graduate assistants Dennis Murray and Jesse Miller.
This is two out of the three high-level targets secured; Jeff Casteel is apparently staying behind. Meanwhile, ESPN's article on the Michigan hirings has been updated:
A number of West Virginia assistant coaches, including assistant head coach/offensive coordinator Calvin McGee, are headed to Michigan to follow former Mountaineers' coach Rich Rodriguez, according to a source.
Six of the coaches are McGee, offensive line coach Greg Frey, quarterbacks coach Rod Smith, safeties coach Bruce Tall, defensive backs coach Tony Gibson and wide receivers coach Tony Dews. Strength and conditioning coach Mike Barwis is also headed to Michigan.
Tall (safeties) and Dews (wide receivers), previously undecided, are now supposed to be coming to Michigan. (The "supposed" will remain until confirmation comes from Michigan itself.)
This might put an end to hopes that Erik Campbell would be retained, but not so fast, my friend(!). Dews' coaching career is remarkably vagabond. Last year, of course, he coached West Virginia's wide receivers, but he did special teams and linebackers the year before at UNLV, tight ends at CMU the two years before that, and defensive line at Holy Cross the year before that. In his time as a grad assistant at WVU (a remarkable stretch of four years without a cross-country move) he worked with the offensive line and secondary. Aside from quarterbacks and running backs there isn't a position on the field Dews hasn't coached. In college he was a tight end at Liberty.
It appears that Dews' primary value to Rodriguez is in recruiting, as his wide receivers expertise can't possibly be the motivating factor for his hiring. If it makes sense to shift him elsewhere he could end up as the linebackers coach, which would mollify the general desire to keep Campbell around.
Playing devil's advocate, though: how hard is it to coach wide receivers? They have to run routes correctly and make a few hot reads, but other than that it's catch-run-go. Linebackers, on the other hand, have to read all sorts of things as quickly as possible, blitz, cover, and etc etc. A moment's hesitation and you get Obi Ezeh this year: promising but mostly ineffective. Szabo's two-year stint at LB coach saw a remarkable upturn in productivity from the 2006 unit and then mediocre-at-best play in 2007, though there's plenty of evidence (recruting JUCO Austin Panter, starting redshirt freshman who-dat Ezeh) that whatever problems the unit had were not on Szabo's shoulders. It seems if you're going to have a spot on the staff for a meh technical coach who can recruit, it would be WR.
I think I still prefer Campbell, but Dews seems a fast riser -- a I-AA school to the MAC to the Mountain West to WVU in five years -- and I don't think Rodriguez will be made or broken by his choice of wide receivers coaches.
Assuming that the ESPN report is right, that leaves Rodriguez with the vast bulk of his WVU staff, everyone except Casteel, Stewart, and Kirelavich. Fred Jackson will fill Stewart's spot as a generic offensive assistant; Steve Stripling seems a logical choice for the DL spot. Defensive coordinator remains up in the air. Dean Hood from Wake Forest remains a guess based on deduction without tangible support. John Tenuta is out there, but will demand a hefty salary and is most likely ticketed for LSU.
Lots of news, so a special weekend UV.
Ohhhhh, C-YA. This is the time of year when various persons announce they're heading to the NFL, and the preliminary news is pretty good for Michigan fans. Michigan State WR Devin Thomas and Illinois RB Rashard Mendenhall are gone. Also gone is Indiana WR James Hardy, though Michigan doesn't play IU next year.
And then there's an ESPN report that Mario Manningham is staying in school. This is just a TV thing -- no article yet -- and ESPN hasn't been rock solid about Michigan football in recent weeks, but that's still encouraging. Maybe he got a second-round grade back after a season of ups and downs?
Inverse C-YA. NJ S Brandon Smith committed to Michigan at the Army All-American game. Smith is a mid-four star who started off in the top 100 most places, but has steadily dropped as the year's progressed. Reports on him were mixed at the AA bowl practices.
Some inverse, some conventional C-YA. The latest on the assistants situation from WVU:
Defensively, West Virginia is pretty much set. Defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel agreed on Friday to stay with Stewart and the Mountaineers, and that was a huge save for the newly named head coach. Defensive line coach Bill Kirelawich is also staying on board and Stewart hopes and thinks he can retain safeties coach Bruce Tall, although Tall isn't expected to give him a definite answer until today. Only secondary coach and recruiting coordinator Tony Gibson has been lost.
Offensively, though, the only coach remaining is first-year wide receivers coach Tony Dews. Offensive coordinator Calvin Magee planned to join former coach Rich Rodriguez at Michigan right from the start, while quarterbacks coach Rod Smith and Greg Frey made their decisions Friday to also join Rodriguez.
The Mountaineers also figure to lose much of the strength and conditioning staff, including strength coach Mike Barwis and skill development coach Chris Allen. They are also expected to inform Stewart of their final decisions today and Stewart fully expects them to be leaving.
Differences from yesterday:
- Casteel officially staying
- Dews officially staying
- Tall still waiting
- Barwis and his S&C staff now strongly expected to go to Michigan.
Would have liked to get Casteel, but other than his decision to stay that falls out just about perfectly for Michigan fans hoping to see Stripling and Campbell retained. Michigan now has a sizable hole to fill at defensive coordinator; as mentioned yesterday, Wake Forest's Dean Hood seems like a natural fit except for his expertise as a secondary coach. If Rodriguez knows he can get Hood maybe it would be best to leave Tall at WVU and start looking for a linebackers coach.
Five West Virginia assistant coaches, including assistant head coach/offensive coordinator Calvin McGee, are headed to Michigan to follow former Mountaineers' coach Rich Rodriguez, according to a person briefed on the decision.
The five are McGee, offensive line coach Greg Frey, quarterbacks coach Rod Smith, safeties coach Bruce Tall and defensive backs coach Tony Gibson. Strength and conditioning coach Mike Barwis is also headed to Michigan.
No indication yet from DC Jeff Casteel or WRs coach Tony Dews. If Casteel -- still "weighing his options" according to the article -- decides to stay, the hot name on the internets is Wake Forest DC Dean Hood, who was Rodriguez's DC at NAIA Glenville State way back in the day and the guy Casteel learned the 3-3-5 from. One complication: Hood doubles as Wake's secondary coach. That would make for a crowded situation there with Tall, WVU's safeties coach, apparently on his way and Tony Gibson already at Michigan; there would be a significant void at linebacker.
I kind of hope Dews decides to stay at WVU, as that could (should?) lead to Soup Campbell's rehiring and the only complaints about Michigan wide receivers over the past decade or so have been along the lines of "arrrgh, why doesn't our bionic devastator catch literally everything?"
Update: All kinds of contradictory stuff flying around now; the Michigan AD has confirmed both Magee and Gibson, though.