Mailbag! Comment Count

Brian December 3rd, 2008 at 2:08 PM

Hey Brian,

To what extent do you think Paul Johnson's success this year implementing his option offense at Georgia Tech was a product of his coaching ability? Do you think RichRod could have had the success that Johnson had at Georgia Tech? Or would Johnson have had a better season for Michigan this year than RichRod did? While I have full confidence that RichRod will bring us to the promised land one day, I just don't see how you could completely attribute our season this year on lack of talent/players not meant for the system, when Johnson faced similar issues at Georgia Tech.

Thanks for considering the question,

I can't properly answer these questions without doing an in-depth survey of Georgia Tech's recruiting and retention similar to the one I did for Michigan in the "what talent?" post, and I'm not inclined to do that. I know, however, that a large part of Johnson's success is this guy:


That's Josh Nesbitt, and that lustful howl you hear is Mike Leach pining loud enough for you to hear thousands of miles away. (hhhhhyarrrr!)

Nesbitt was a linebacker-sized four-star dual threat quarterback in the class of 2007—he was part of the same class Steven Threet was. And while his year wasn't unbelievable or anything, grab him off GT and insert him into Michigan's starting lineup and how many more games do they win? Especially if you replace the Big Ten with the ACC and Notre Dame with Gardner-Webb?

Eh… probably three or four, which still brings them up short of GT's 9-3 record and status as likely the best team in the ACC. Paul Johnson's done a tremendous job and was an excellent hire.

Rodriguez… eh, not so much. I'd like to clarify my position on Rodriguez's culpability for this year's struggles: it's not "he has none." It's "I don't have any idea how much he has." I think there's a reasonable case to be made that this was a 3-9 team given the roster composition and injury situation under just about anyone. I can understand people who think that's being too kind.

What I do think: we're here now, down at 3-9, and Rodriguez has proven he can pull programs out the fire before. I'm pretty confident he can do it again.

This showed up in the inbox titled "Why I drink":

drinking( The reader noted that a hat tip should go out to This Is Indexed.)

This is not relevant but I have to get it off my chest, as they say:

Brian, doesn't it seem like Tennessee is making the same mistakes that Nebraska, Notre Dame and Syracuse made by hiring NFL coaches? Lane Kiffin, really Vols? How did it come to this guy down in Knoxville?

Absolutely. What on earth made Lane Kiffin a hot coaching candidate? Even if you don't hold his tenure with the Raiders against him, and you probably shouldn't, you're hiring a guy whose main accomplishment was not screwing up USC's offense the year after Norm Chow left. Once the Chow-taught guys exited, USC's offense sank considerably.

His main assets are a reputed ability to recruit (which would be great if he was your offensive coordinator) and his 68-year-old father showing up as a defensive coordinator. Which, okay. How long, exactly, is Monte Kiffin going to keep coaching? Minnesota just made the same hire, basically, by picking Brewster. And I guess that's fine if you're Minnesota, but Tennessee should be able to get someone more proven.

Also stupid: Clemson hiring a WR coach instead of going on a search. The only program out there who seemed to know what they were doing was Syracuse, which was pursuing Chip Kelly, and now Kelly is the coach-in-waiting at Oregon so they're SOL. I don't understand why someone hasn't thrown stupid money at Brian Kelly, even if he is a legendary jerk.

Update: Clay Travis, Tennessee fan guy, is also kind of leery.



December 3rd, 2008 at 2:52 PM ^

what the email failed to acknowledge is that this season's success at Georgia Tech is probably the ceiling for that offense. Congratulations on the quick turn around, but I have serious doubts about ever seeing the triple option win a national title again.


December 3rd, 2008 at 2:52 PM ^

All Kelly does is win football games, it boggles my mind. Besides, don't a good chunk of the top football coaches have the same reputation. I worked at the athletic facilities at CMU for a part of Kelly's career there and from a personal standpoint we all thought he was a hell of a nice guy. I don't think the outside world really realizes just how big an accomplishment cleaning up and turning Central into a winner really was.


December 3rd, 2008 at 3:18 PM ^

its not like they had a roster full of slot ninjas. I think the roster overhaul for that system is less severe than what we went through and as Brian mentioned having the right QB is probably half the battle. I see your point, but its not like there is this plethora of triple option talent that is really going to transform Georgia Tech and allow them to do things they couldn't do this year.

If anything they're probably going to be offering a few more 3* HS RBs the opportunity to stay at RB, whereas everyone else is offering them for LB or Safety. And I don't think thats going to make them better than 9-3.


December 3rd, 2008 at 3:13 PM ^

I can't fathom why Washington and WSU haven't already made an offer to Chris Peterson. If nothing else, hiring him would prevent Oregon from doing so. Some Oregon supporters regard Mike Belotti as a chronic underachiever (sound familiar?) and given Peterson's stint under him back in the '90s he's a logical candidate to replace Belotti. Peterson is a much better fit for UW or WSU than Kelly is, given his extensive roots out on the west coast.

Lane Kiffin makes no sense to me at Tenn, either. For every Pete Carroll there are 10 Bill Callihans or Charlie Weises.

chitownblue (not verified)

December 3rd, 2008 at 4:13 PM ^

Petersen is getting paid close to a million dollars a year coaching a program that has gone undefeated in 2 of the last 3 years, and has won double-digit games for like 8 straight - Boise, at this point, reloads, they don't rebuild (relatively speaking, of course), and would likely be going to a BCS game this year if not for another mid-major going undefeated. I'm also pretty confident that Boise would have waxed Washington state for most of the past decade. Not only is Washington State not going to match his salary, but they provide a lesser chance of success. And they were better than Washington.


December 3rd, 2008 at 3:17 PM ^

I'm a bit biased since I was at GVSU when Kelly went to the first DII championship game, but why does everyone think he is a jerk? If RR was on the other sideline I'm pretty sure everyone would think he is a jerk. From my perspective RR and BK have pretty similar charisma, for lack of a better term. They both work hard, are confident (maybe even arrogant) and both want to win.


December 3rd, 2008 at 3:57 PM ^

I think Johnson's ceiling at GT has more to do with the fact that he is simply at GT - they're not a powerhouse, and have rarely reached the rarified air of 11- or 12-win seasons. So, I don't think a ceiling will be the fault of his system.

Osborne routinely competed for national titles back at Nebraska only ten years ago running the triple option. I see no reason why a similar school with that sort of tradition couldn't do the same thing again. It might not be possible at GT, but at Nebraska, or even (after an overhaul) at ND, USC, Florida, etc., yeah, I could see that offense winning national titles.

Heck, Meyer's spread at Florida is largely based off the ancient single wing, and they're tearing people up.

As to Kelly's rep, people I know drew no favorable comparisons between Kelly and RichRod. Rod comes off as cocky but friendly, while Kelly came off (to this person) as a "f--- everyone else, I can walk on water" sort of jerk. Now, that may be perspective, and I've never met the man. It's just what I had heard.


December 3rd, 2008 at 4:51 PM ^

Really, neither Washington or Washington State would pay Peterson more than $1 million? I can't believe Pac-10 salaries would be so low, but that would certainly contribute to a long stay at the bottom for those programs. If I were Peterson and that were the case, I'd stay put, too.

chitownblue (not verified)

December 3rd, 2008 at 6:00 PM ^

Washington might. Washington state probably wouldn't. But, again, Boise St. has accomplished as much in the past 3 years as Washington State has accomplished in virtually their entire history, despite being in a podunk conference. Remember - some of these BCS schools are just there - not because they're better. What have schools like Indiana, Duke, or Vanderbilt EVER done in football to suggest that they belong more than Utah or Boise? The simple fact is that Utah and Boise, for the past 5 years, have had a better stretch than virtually have of the BCS teams out there. You think Purdue, who is a decent BCS team over this timeframe, would trade their last 5 years for Utah's or Boise's? I do.

The Original C

December 4th, 2008 at 12:19 AM ^

Brian, this is from a guy who is a USC expert, he knows his shit, i have already linked this page before but here goes,

Check his out the article, scroll midway to find the relevant portion. Lane Kiffin might not be Pete Carroll or Charlie Weis (haha!) but he certainly was not just a "didn't screw up Norm Chow's Offense" guy either. I don't want this place to run with "the common wisdom thing"!