A Quick List Of Potential Defensive Coordinators Comment Count

Brian December 16th, 2008 at 5:02 PM

In no particular order:

Jeff Casteel, West Virginia DC. Casteel passed up the opportunity to follow Rodriguez to Ann Arbor last fall, but maybe a year of life under Bill Stewart—and the job security that goes along with that—might have changed his mind.

Many will be skeptical of the 3-3-5, but West Virginia finished 8th and 9th in scoring defense the past two years, though yardage was considerably worse (35th) this year. I also note that the recruiting class has an ton of safety/OLB types (Jones, Hawthorne, Gordon, Emilien, Bell, maybe the other Gordon) that are 4-5 spots on the field in the 3-3-5.

corwin-brown Corwin Brown, Notre Dame DC. Brown is a Michigan alum that Charlie Weis chose to be his defensive coordinator; before that he was an NFL DBs coach. In Brown's time at ND he's killed Chicago recruiting and racked up kind of eh results on the field. This year ND was 38th in total defense, 43rd in scoring. They were 65th in yardage in Brown's first season, but given the crater that was Notre Dame's offense it's hard to pass any judgments.

Brown's a high risk, high upside kind of guy. He'd be a dynamite recruiter if his returns from ND are any indication, but he's only been a DC for two years and hasn't exactly torn it up. More damningly, the defenses Notre Dame has run against Michigan the last two years haven't made any sense: ND sits back in a cover-two shell and lets running backs race up and down the field against them even with Ryan Mallett and Steven Threet the opposing quarterbacks. I guess it made sense this year once Notre Dame raced out to that lead. In 2007? Not so much.

Also, ND brought in TAH-NOO-TAH this offseason to be the "linebackers coach," but it seemed like co-coordinatorship at best. How in control of ND's D was he? Also also, he reportedly dissed Michigan when recruiting some kid, though he later denied he said such a thing.

Also also also: he has a giant umwellyouknow.

John Chavis, former Tennessee DC. Currently unemployed, Chavis was Tennessee's defensive coordinator since 1995. A pissed off Johnny Majors took a shot at Fulmer by praising Chavis:

“Frankly, I think (defensive coordinator) John Chavis has saved his job for 10 years.”

So there's that. In the twilight of the Fulmer era Tennessee was wildly variable on D: 4th in yardage last year, 70th in 2007, 50th in 2006.

Chavis is old and kind of looks like Gittleson so probably won't be a bang-up recruiter but the guy knows his way around a defense.

Paul Rhoads, former Auburn DC. For fans of irony this is choice A1, as Rhoads was Pittsburgh's defensive coordinator in 2007 when the Panthers held a mostly Pat-White-less West Virginia team to nine points and precipitated the string of events that ended with Rodriguez taking the Michigan job.

Auburn's defense was 27th in yardage and 15th in scoring this year despite taking the field opposite and offense that was the functional equivalent of Michigan's. That chaos butterfly of a Pitt defense was fifth in yardage and (somehow) 42nd in scoring. Wikipedia on Rhoads' Panther career:

In 2000, Rhoads was hired as the defensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Panthers by Walt Harris. In his first season, Rhoads was credited with improving the team's defense to their best performance since 1980. In 2001, his defensive unit ranked among the nation's top 30 in five different categories at season's end. Additionally, Pitt finished with 38 quarterback sacks. In 2002, the Panthers defense ranked among the nation's top 25 in an impressive seven different categories. In 2004, Pitt ranked ninth nationally with 17 interceptions and Rhoads was kept on staff by new head coach Dave Wannstedt. That decision proved wise as by then end of the 2005 season, Pitt was ranked second nationally in pass defense (yielding just 152.82 yards per game) and sixth in pass efficiency defense with a 99.36 rating. In 2006, Sporting News named Rhoads the Big East's best defensive coordinator. In 2007, Rhoads' defense was among the nation's leaders in various categories, finishing fifth nationally in total defense (allowing just 297.7 yards per games) and third nationally in pass defense (allowing just 167.3 yards per game). While the team finished 5–7, they ended on a high note by holding then-#2 ranked rival West Virginia to a season-low nine points in a 13-9 victory in the Backyard Brawl, limiting the Mountaineers high-powered offense to 183 yards (292 yards below their average).

Even setting aside the irony, Rhoads appears to be a good choice. He has eight years of DC experience, most of which is impressive. He's a guy Rodriguez has gone up against a half-dozen times, so there's some familiarity between the two coaches. He's young enough (41) to be an energetic, motivated recruiter. A guy like Tommy Tuberville surveyed the nation after losing Will Muschamp and picked him out, and Tuberville can find himself some defensive coordinators.

Hell… what about Tommy Tuberville, former Auburn head coach? Tuberville may want to sit on the sidelines for a while or whatever, but the parade of defensive coordinators that worked their way through Auburn never seemed to have much impact on the fortunes of the D. Tuberville was a DC for one year at Texas A&M before getting the Ole Miss job.

Eh, this one's pretty far-fetched.

Vance Bedford, Florida DBs coach. You know Vance from his two stints as Michigan's DB coach; those sandwiched an up-and-down career as Oklahoma State's defensive coordinator. This year he's vastly improved a previously porous Florida secondary.

But… no. Bedford's last stint as a DC ended in ignominy and controversy after he called Okie State fans "roaches" and then wouldn't back away from it. We all know how that sort of comment would play in this media environment. Also he wasn't a good DC; as long as Rhoads and Chavis are out there there's no reason to go back to a guy who didn't do well in a coordinator role before.

The Orgeron. Come on. You know you want him.

Chris Spielman. I'm kidding. Okay, I'm half-kidding.

So, who do I like?

Of the listed: Rhoads. He's got a good track record and could revive Michigan's Pittsburgh-area recruiting. After that, probably Corwin Brown, actually, for recruiting/piss off ND/Michigan alum issues.


chitownblue (not verified)

December 16th, 2008 at 5:12 PM ^

Given that we have a staff full of position coaches that have coached the 3-3-5, doesn't Casteel make sense? Or are the jobs of the position coaches now in jeapordy?

Can't we say that part of Shafer's problem was that he was saddled with coaches he didn't pick who were coaching a system (his) they had never coached? Given that, I see the choice being:

a) keep the position coaches, hire Casteel
b) Can the coaches, hire someone else


December 16th, 2008 at 6:45 PM ^

If we go with Casteel, why the hell are we recruiting so many damn DTs?

With Graves and Jones already committed, (hopefully) Campbell on the way, and no seniors on the roster, why are we still pushing for McPhee? Depth is nice, but with Martin in the mix too, that's a lot of guys for one spot.

mad magician

December 16th, 2008 at 7:05 PM ^

In addition to Leon Hall, Marlin Jackson and even Ernest Shazor were All-Americans in English-coached backfields. Lamarr Woodley, Alan Branch, Dave Harris, Prescott Burgess are some names off the top of my head who played their best ball with English as DC. Also guys like Rondell Biggs, Shawn Crable.

What does Pat White have to do with this? I'm not arguing for English to be the head coach. I'm just saying, he was a pretty good DC. He coached our best defense since '97. There were some failures, of course, but no coaching record is without blemishes.


December 16th, 2008 at 5:38 PM ^

i was thinking the same thing about English. he was the most enthusiastic guy on the old staff and he is young enough. also if i remember correctly he was a pretty good recruiter in the california region. think about if we could recruit cali like we are fl now...both states are loaded with talent. that being said i doubt he will get the job or be considered strongly


December 16th, 2008 at 5:28 PM ^

left off Hopson, which is maybe the most obvious choice. Not my pick, but there's a good chance he'll be the next DC (no inside info here, just common sense). Other options I'd be happy with: Greg Robinson, Ron Vanderlinden but I don't think they're as likely.


December 16th, 2008 at 5:37 PM ^

Comes from Big East. Played for Wisconsin and has Pennsylvania ties for recruiting.

Info from Huskies website:

Todd Orlando has coached UConn’s inside linebackers since the 1999 season and, in 2005, he also assumed the role of defensive coordinator.

In his first year as defensive coordinator, UConn led the BIG EAST in total defense in 2006, ranking seventh in the nation. The team’s 297.1 yards per game average for total defense was the program’s best since 1979. His second season, 2007, saw UConn claim the BIG EAST Championship behind the nation’s 10th-ranked passing efficiency defense and the 14th best scoring defense at 19.0 points allowed per game.

chitownblue (not verified)

December 16th, 2008 at 5:42 PM ^

If you are an 18 year old black kid (since our team is largely african-american) do think you'd have an easier time forging an affinity to a younger person who is your race, or an older white guy? My hunch says more would go for the younger black guy.


December 16th, 2008 at 5:46 PM ^

judging by his name and his pic.... 52 is not old for a coach... Les Miles is older than that, as was Moeller, and Carr for much of his career (and Bo..and many of the coaches...no one is bitching about 57 year old Fred Jackson and his ability to recruit...)

... the age of a DC is not as important as his knowledge and how he relates to the kids in both recruiting and coaching. Nothing bad has been said about the guy's abilities...so to diss him based on him being middle aged and not black is pretty fucking stupid and narrow minded imo.

chitownblue (not verified)

December 16th, 2008 at 5:52 PM ^

I don't think Brian was talking about his coaching ability - he explicity says he's a great coach. I think he referred to recruiting ability.

And my point wasn't that black kids don't like white people - but that most people have an easier time relating to people like themselves. There aren't many native-american players out there.


December 16th, 2008 at 5:54 PM ^

valid point. as much as it shouldnt matter about race and coaching it plays a major part. why else would almost every basketball team have one black coach on their bench? also do not be surprised if the new dc comes out of left field much like the hiring of Rich Rod did last year.


December 16th, 2008 at 5:42 PM ^

"We just had a mutual decision," Shafer told the Free Press. "We had different thoughts on the way we did things. I take full responsibility for the demise of where Michigan's program is at this time."

So it he that sabotaged our program?!?! Bastard.


December 16th, 2008 at 6:10 PM ^

I vaguely remember reading some very entertaining posts on some Pitt blogs about how much they hated Paul Rhoads. Maybe they just hated him because he worked for The Wannstache, though, I can't remember.

At this point, I just want some continuity and stability. During these rebuilding years, I would very much like the drama at Michigan to be turned down to 3. Schembechler Hall needs some quiet time.


December 16th, 2008 at 6:14 PM ^

What about him? Seems like ol' RR loves Nick, could his dad come in and take up the DC job? He has done a good job with Giants and it seems like he would come back for a DC job.