Things About Doug Nussmeier Comment Count

Brian January 10th, 2014 at 1:20 PM


In the aftermath of Michigan's quick OC change, everyone who's met, heard of, or birthed Doug Nussmeier has been asked about what they think about him. ("Needs to shave more often." –Mom) This post collects those things and presents them to you, the reader.

1. HE GON' GET PAID. Michigan is convinced that paying people large amounts of money will make them better at what they do (see: Hoke contract, Borges's 300k raise after year one) and they are doubling down on that. According to Bruce Feldman, Nussmeier "will be among the five highest-paid coordinators in college football," which means he'll be at or around one million dollars. Insert usual rabbling about how untenable this situation is, ethics-wise.

2. HE DID NOT LIKE NICK SABAN'S UNHINGED IN-GAME RANTING. In an interesting post on the Alabama 247 site, one of their moderators—in fact I think the owner of the whole 247 enterprise—lays out some reasons Alabama and Nussmeier parted mutually($), and they mostly have to do with blood running out of Nussmeier's ears. A small excerpt:

However, multiple sources tell BOL that Nussmeier was a bad fit for Saban. It takes a special/unique person to be a coordinator for Saban. During the heat of a game, it is common that Saban will become extraordinarily heated, openly and repeatedly question calls. Its not a bad thing, its just him and has always been his style. It is generally something that is understood and not that big of a deal among his staff.

"The writing was on the wall" after the Auburn game, which sounds pretty irrational to me since Alabama would have won that game if their kickers had been anything other than incompetent and Nussmeier's offense racked up 495 yards. The bowl loss to OU featured 516 yards and five turnovers, three of which were lost fumbles that have little if anything to do with the OC.

If this friction is based on three redzone trips in the Iron Bowl, great. Or the bowl game. I mean:

The numbers, however impressive they might be, only serve as a faint silver outline of what turned out to be a disappointing ending, as Alabama's offense failed on the national stage against Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl. It turned out to be the final game of Nussmeier's tenure, as he's agreed to move north and take the same job at Michigan.

In the Sugar Bowl, the flaws of Nussmeier's scheme were put under a heavy spotlight: the protection broke down, McCarron faltered and three turnovers ultimately doomed the Tide.

Okay, bro. Has nothing to do with the fact that the vaunted Tide D gave up 45 points to a virtual nobody. And it's Nussmeier's fault that TJ Yeldon fumbled inside the ten.

3. HE IS A FLEXIBLE MAN. Rivals caught up with Bama T/G/C Barrett Jones($), and he gave the requisite heap of praise.  The most interesting bit is the part about Nussmeier's flexibility. After three years of mobile quarterbacks, Nussmeier adapted to Alabama instead of the other way around:

"I think a lot of guys walk into a situation and try to implement their philosophy but he's not one of those stubborn coaches that only knows one way. He understood we were having success doing things a certain way and he kept the staples and then added some wrinkles."

At Alabama that meant sticking with the Tide's bread and butter, which is meticulously executed inside zone. Darrell Funk is an inside zone guy himself, so hopefully those two guys will mesh.

Meanwhile, a glimpse at Keith Price's 2011 season reveals a mix of shotgun and under center, with an emphasis on the gun:

Here's everything he did against Baylor in that year's Alamo Bowl. At this point Baylor's defense is still a tire fire, FWIW:

This game plan was passing-spread oriented. Chris Polk did get 30 attempts but Price was the main way to move the ball as he went 23 of 37 for 438 yards (11.8 YPA!) in a loss(!) against RGIII. Baylor 67, Washington 56 remains the highest scoring regulation bowl game ever.

Meanwhile, a ten-minute Chris Polk career retrospective is helpful since Polk's career just about exactly coincided* with Nussmeier's:

That is a mix of inside zone and power blocking with a lot of draws mixed in; power seems to be mostly a short yardage or goal line thing from under center but is prevalent on shotgun runs.

*[Polk played two games under Willingham before getting injured and went to the NFL draft right after Nussmeier was hired at Alabama.]

4. HE'S NOT A LIFER. SBNation's Washington blog checked in with their Alabama blog about Nussmeier in December when Nussmeier interviewed for the vacant Washington gig. At 43 with a major reclamation project in front of him, Nussmeier would be a Hot Candidate in the event that he turns Michigan's offense into a top 20 unit. This is good and bad: bad for program stability, good to have a potential candidate to replace Hoke.

5. HE'S GOOD WITH QUARTERBACKS. From that UW-Bama conversation:

The 2011 version of McCarron would have a difficult time throwing the ball down the deep middle of the field, but the 2012 and 2013 versions have thrived in this area. He still lacks elite arm strength, but his mechanics are much improved – along with ability to go through his progressions and deliver the football on time, even to his third or fourth option. Once again, it’s nothing more than a guessing game when it comes to trying to determining how much of his progression is due to Nussmeier. Some natural progression is to be expected, and, over the summer, McCarron has a quarterback coach.

Angelique Chengelis pinged former Nussmeier QB Drew Stanton and got this:

“Doug Nussmeier is everything as advertised and more,” Stanton said Wednesday night after news broke that Michigan hired Nussmeier. “He has an unbelievable approach to the game that demands a lot out of his players but also has a way of making every day fun.

“He represents what college football should be all about. He’s going to make a great head coach some day, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without him. I was literally in tears when he left my junior year at Michigan State.”

Price, meanwhile, was a throw-in in the Sarkisian/Willingham transition class that no one expected much from. They got a ton:

Doug Nussmeier was given a ton of credit for what Keith Price became. Price was a guy that they brought in in the initial recruiting class after Ty Willingham was fired, and quite frankly was mostly considered a depth guy. People expected Nick Montana to step in after Jake Locker and be the guy for the next three or four years, but all Price did was win the job and then go on to rewrite UW's passing records book. And though there were other factors at play, Nussmeier leaving for Alabama surely had something to do with Price having his worst season immediately thereafter.

6. HE WAS SHAPED BY JOHN L SMITH'S IDEAS. This is a good thing since we're talking about offense. Smith's career has been a series of explosive offenses and good records until things got unhinged at Michigan State, and even there he was setting fire to Michigan's secondary with That Goddamned Counter Draw until Drew Stanton went out and Braylonfest kicked in. Nussmeier was one of Smith's QBs at Idaho back when Idaho was a very good I-AA team instead of a terrible I-A team that should reclassify to I-AA; his first college job was under JLS as a QB coach at MSU.

His formative years were first as a QB in a wide open offense, then in a wide open version of fake football (the CFL), then as a guy in a spread-oriented system at MSU. Alabama fans' main complaint about him is that he got down to the six yard line in last year's A&M game and threw three times instead of running the dang ball, so if we have lizard brain complaints they'll probably be about throwing too much.

7. HE'S SUPPOSEDLY A REAL GOOD RECRUITER BUT I MEAN COME ON DO WE REALLY KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THIS DUDE WAS AT 'BAMA. Nussmeier was instrumental in getting touted 2015 QB Ricky Town to commit to Alabama but not instrumental enough to make Town reconsider his commitment after he moved. He was apparently the point man on a couple of other high profile recruitments and after Mike Vrabel's departure is now the highest-ranked dude in the Big Ten on 247's "best recruiter" rankings.

I give those little credence, but he'll have to be an upgrade on Borges, who rarely traveled and mostly just took guru Steve Clarkson's advice on who to recruit at QB.



January 10th, 2014 at 1:33 PM ^

I will reserve judgement as I am almost always wrong about coaching hires.

I though RichRod was the savior.

Then I thought hoke was the savior...

now I think Nuss is the savior...


I am always wrong or always optimistic.




January 10th, 2014 at 1:33 PM ^

1.  It will be interesting to see what changes will be made at the position coach level, if any.  Only time will tell.

2.  Maybe now the team will execute.


January 10th, 2014 at 1:53 PM ^

1.  I'm not at all concerned with him not being a perfect fit with Alabama.  Saban is now on a level to be able to say, "Your playing, while technically perfect, lacks passion" and part ways with a guy because he doesn't meet his taste.  The only thing unquestionably wrong with Alabama's offense this year was that they didn't play defense or cover missed FGs.

2. My guess is that going from Saban to Brady Hoke is going to be something more than nice for Nussmeier.

3. I have to try not to run around in circles, giddy as a school girl over this hire.  Nobody has a magic wand, but it sure seems like Michigan is putting its best foot forward by having Nussmeier run the offense and Mattison the D. 


 Homer Floor Run


January 10th, 2014 at 1:44 PM ^

Nobody (at least, not in my experience) really does exclusively zone or man. Michigan did both this year, and as Brian mentions in his post, Nuss does both now. While he may lean more on the zone running plays, he mentions that power O will still be prevalent in short yardage situations. 

Eye of the Tiger

January 10th, 2014 at 3:02 PM ^

They run Inside Zone as their base play and add a lot of wrinkles from there. We're likely to see a LOT more zone blocking in 2014 than we did in 2013. And Alabama's practice MO is to drill the bejesus out of Inside Zone, so we'll likely be much better at it too.

Power O is likely to be much more situational and a changeup. 


January 10th, 2014 at 1:38 PM ^

Yeah, Alabam la-dee-da, but he was supposedly heavily involved in bringing in these 2 classes for Washington in 2010/2011. They aren't, like, mind boggling classes, but they do feature nabbing Austin Sefarian Jenkins from Texas in a time where Texas didn't offer but, like, 3 people out of state, and getting Kasen Williams from Notre Dame. 


January 10th, 2014 at 2:25 PM ^

he meant "mind-boggling".

adjective Slang.


intellectually overwhelming: a mind-boggling puzzle.

emotionally or psychologically overwhelming; mind-blowing.
Not sure about "mind-bottling", is that a hip-hop derivative?


January 10th, 2014 at 1:38 PM ^

$1.2m is not out of whack in CFB today.  Chad Morris at Clemson makes more.  Did you notice Petrino went from making $850k to $3.5m w/o any leverage or suitors?  This is the state of CFB.  At least there was a market for Nuss.


January 10th, 2014 at 1:41 PM ^

Just watched Nussmeier's presser - based on his remarks and how he handled the Q&A I really like the guy.

Body language suggests he is a confident guy but not an asshole.

And although I actually thought Borges was awesome as a person, I have to believe that Nuss being so much younger and more energetic is going to give the players a boost, not to mention it should be a huge help with recruiting.

Big Brown Jug

January 10th, 2014 at 1:45 PM ^

I dunno man.  This is a great hire given the situation, but I still can't get over the nagging feeling that it perpetuates an offensive scheme that is becoming obsolete in college football.


January 10th, 2014 at 2:10 PM ^

I am hoping that is just my inherent pessimism about Michigan football recently and a 2013 hangover. 

Given that 2014 is a new year I will say that I am cautiously optomistic because of 1) Nussmeier's track record prior to Bama, 2) his proven ability to coach QB's and 3) his recruiting ability being a necessary upgrade over Borges who did almost no recuriting (Damien Harris notwithstanding).


January 10th, 2014 at 3:28 PM ^

still can't get over the nagging feeling that it perpetuates an offensive scheme that is becoming obsolete in college football.

What exactly is obsolete about Nussmeier's philosophy? His Washington offenses were pretty open and he got Saban to loosen the reins a bit (though Saban apparently didn't let him go as far as he wanted).


January 10th, 2014 at 3:36 PM ^

I still can't get over the nagging feeling that it perpetuates an offensive scheme that is becoming obsolete in college football.

Another way to look at this is it affords an opportunity to evolve the Michigan scheme to merge in with where the game is going. 

My sense is we're in the middle-phase of the melding of spread concepts and pro concepts, in both the NFL and the college ranks.

I'm not normally a pollyanna optimist, but in this case I sense that Hoke went with Nussmeier because he understands the up-tempo spread elements and the physical power game as well.  I think that's where we're going.


[email protected]

January 11th, 2014 at 12:50 AM ^

MSU is killing people with a a simpler "old fashioned" offense and a murderous defense. I don't see them going away any time soon. Nor would I be shocked to see them wreck Oregon next year. And they seem to be the banner boys for offensive modernity.

What I like about Nuss is that he will work with what he has. If Mattison can realize the promise of guys coming back and Nuss can get "normal" performance out of the O, whatever it runs, the future looks bright. IMHO.

The Geek

January 10th, 2014 at 1:50 PM ^

A good friend and co-worker is an Alabama alum (albeit from the Bear Bryant days) and a booster. I happened to run into him as I was leaving the building yesterday, and hit him with "We got your OC!"

We had a great conversation regarding the hire, and the aftermath in Tuscaloosa. As I said, he maintains close ties to the program, and he basically reiterated exactly what Brian quoted from the 247 site. He thinks Nussmeier is a great OC and had nothing derogatory to say.

He does seem dumbfounded by the "impending" hire of Lane Kiffin. Hard to imagine Kiffin being a "better" fit, at least personality-wise.

I think it's a positive sign he wanted to get out from under Saban, but that's just me. =)


Little Brown J…

January 10th, 2014 at 1:47 PM ^

You say that  he is "good to have a potential candidate to replace Hoke".   Do you see a scenario in which we would fire Hoke but then replace him with Nuss?  Seems interesting to fire a coach and then promote the OC.  


January 10th, 2014 at 1:59 PM ^

That comment struck me odd as well. I think what was meant is only that Nuss can be expected to highly consider taking a HC gig in 1-3 years if he improves Michigan's offense as per his trend; and the odds of him leaving grow exponentially if he turns Michigan into a top 20 offense for a couple years. Not here, but elsewhere. Then, when Hoke retires (or if the team craters without Nuss at the helm), we'd have a bridge to Nuss to bring him back. 

Hoke is 55, Nuss is 43. I mean, I think we can expect a successful Hoke to stick around for a while, possibly a decade. At which point Nuss would be almost Hoke's age now. Or, we make a run at the ol' OC assuming he proves himself HC material.

In any event, I wouldn't support a 'HC in waiting' type deal with Nuss, considering his lack of HC experience at this point.