Editor's note: This is the first of a 10-part summer series rating the top D-I college football coaches in the country. From position coaches to head coach, Dennis Dodd and you, the community, will compile an All-Star team of the nation's top 10 coaches. Next up: Wide Receiver coaches. Vote now!
There are few constants in college football. Stadiums. Scandals. Say-it-don't-spray-it lisps from analysts.
|Bruce Walker's tight ends were a big part of Mizzou's explosive O. (Provided to CBSSports.com)|
How about the coaches? They change jobs, but they don't change responsibility. Mold men. Win games. Leave the place better than they found it.
CBSSports.com had the idea to salute one of the game's few constants. Over the next few weeks, we will reveal our dream staff. They are 10 coaches who we believe are the best at their job. It is subjective as hell, but we did seek out opinions from some of the best neutral observers in the game.
We used their -- and our -- opinions to put together a staff that would make any athletic director proud. Some ground rules: We left out quarterbacks coach and recruiting coordinator because frequently those jobs are folded into other responsibilities. Example: The quarterbacks coach oftentimes is also the offensive coordinator.
Also, we are listing the best coach at each position and "five others to consider." They are listed in alphabetical order not necessarily in order of relevance.
The list is yours to clip, save or tear apart. A summer treat in the summer heat.
We start with tight ends coaches.
Bruce Walker, Missouri
How do you use your tight end?
At Missouri, the tight ends are all over the place -- split out, in the slot, selling popcorn. In fact, the way Gary Pinkel runs his offense, it might be hard to call them true tight ends. Except that's the way the game is played these days. Both the Associated Press and American Football Coaches Association picked Missouri tight end Martin Rucker as an All-American last season.
Rucker was the nation's top pass-catching tight end, grabbing 84 balls in the nation's No. 5 offense while becoming the school's first All-American tight end since a chap named Kellen Winslow in 1978. In fact, Missouri had the best set of tight ends last season. Throw in Chase Coffman (52 catches, 531 yards) and there was little argument.
|Tight End Coaches|
|Wide Receivers Coaches|
|Running Backs Coaches|
|Defensive Line Coaches|
|Offensive Line Coaches|
Rucker is off to the NFL but Coffman returns, meaning Walker can work more of his magic. Four of his tight ends since 2001 have been at least all-Big 12 honorable mentions.
It's not easy being a tight ends coach, mostly because not all staffs even list one. It is a position that is frequently folded in with offensive line or receivers. But Walker, 47, has been at his job 12 years, going back to Pinkel's days at Toledo.
What's next? Watch for Coffman. Missouri could have its second consecutive All-American tight end. Five others to consider:
Gary Bernardi, UNLV: An offensive line guru, Bernardi has coached seven future NFL tight ends. A Pac-10 veteran, Bernardi also coached Tony Boselli at USC and Jonathan Ogden at UCLA, two of the best left tackles in the past 20 years.
Josh Henson, LSU: At best, Henson is the second-best football talent to come out of Tuttle, Oklahoma. Heisman Trophy winner Jason White is the city's first citizen. However, Henson is one of the backbones of LSU football as its recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach. Sophomore Richard Dickson caught 32 passes for LSU last season, the most by a Tigers tight end in more than two decades. Two of those catches were for touchdowns in the national championship game.
Doc Holliday, West Virginia How do you leave this legend out? Sure tight ends are just one of Doc's responsibilities (he is also recruiting coordinator, associate head coach and fullbacks coach), but the West Virginia tight ends are going to be a huge part of the offense this year, especially because Rich Rodriguez hardly used the position to catch passes.
Greg Nord, Louisville: Kentucky fanatics have to love this. Nord, a former Wildcats tight end, is working his magic down the road. Nord coached the No. 1 pass-catching tight end in history (Ibn Green, 217 catches from 2002-04). In 2003, Ronnie Ghent became the first Conference USA player to be named all-conference all four years.
Tom Osborne, Oregon: The other T.O. is one of the most respected assistants in the country. In his second stint in Eugene, Osborne has coached two of Oregon's best tight ends -- Josh Wilcox and Blake Spence. Last season, sophomore Ed Dickson was Oregon's second-leading receiver. While at Arizona State, Osborne coached All-American Zach Miller.