Blog Entry

Tuesday Top 10: Fastest-rising assistant coaches

Posted on: November 22, 2011 10:11 am
Edited on: November 22, 2011 10:45 am
As we reported Monday afternoon with the report about Rich Rodriguez getting the Arizona job, tis the season for coaching changes. Expect a lot more vacancies to spring up in the next few weeks. A few of them will get filled by first-time head coaches. This week's Top 10 list examines some of the best up-and-comers to keep an eye on:

1. Gus Malzahn, Auburn, OC: The former Arkansas high school coach's rep sky-rocketed last season as Auburn rode Cam Newton to the BCS title. Things have been much, much tougher this year without Newton or most of last year's offensive line. The offense that was fifth nationally in scoring and sixth in total offense has plummeted to 78th and 93rd, respectively. But things should get a lot better next year as almost all of their key guys figure to be back. But will Malzahn? He is paid very, very well at Auburn, getting a reported $1.3 mil per year, and won't leave for just any coaching job, but word is that UNC's vacancy could be tempting.

2. Kirby Smart, Alabama, DC: Nick Saban's program has spawned a handful of future head coaches (FSU's Jimbo Fisher, UF's Will Muschamp and Tennessee's Derek Dooley among them), and Smart figures to be the next one up. Then again, Bama OC Jim McElwain, who could've also been on this list, will likely get some looks this winter too. Bama's defensive prowess will be quite a selling point for Smart. The Tide leads the nation in: rushing defense, pass efficiency defense, total defense and scoring defense. That's quite a mouthful. The one downside for the former Georgia DB is that Saban is so hands-on with Alabama's defense it's perceived that the head coach is more responsible for the unit's success than most head coaches.

3. Paul Chryst, Wisconsin, OC: One of the more anonymous "top" assistants in college football, the 46-year-old Chryst, a former Mike Riley assistant, has done a terrific job for the Badgers for years. This season, he's put together an offense that has produced two Heisman candidates in QB Russell Wilson and RB Montee Ball. The Badgers are fifth in the country in scoring and 10th in rushing under the former Wisconsin QB.

4. Manny Diaz, Texas, DC: A first-year UT assistant, Diaz has proven to be the most effective of all of Mack Brown's new on-field coaches, turning a defense that had to replace most of the secondary into one that is 11th in pass efficiency D and 26th in scoring D. Last year, the Horns were 46th and 49th in both of those categories. Texas also has jumped from 31st against the run all the way up to No. 8. Diaz provided a similar boost at his previous stop, Mississippi State in 2010. The Miami native would be even higher on this list if his team was doing better than a 6-4 mark. But don't blame the defense. It's only a matter of time before Diaz is running his own program.

5. Chad Morris, Clemson, OC: Like Malzahn, Morris is a former high school coach who is cashing in on an up-tempo offense that has pumped life into a big, previously underachieving college program. As I detailed in a Stats That Matter a few weeks back, Morris learned a lot from Malzahn and has done wonders for young QB Tajh Boyd. Morris also has done wonders for Dabo Swinney's job security. The Tigers are 12th in the nation in passing, 18th in total offense and 21st in scoring. A year ago, before Morris arrived, they were 78th, 88th and 86th in those carries. With a handful of openings likely to come this winter in his native state of Texas, expect Morris' phone to be ringing.

6. Garrick McGee, Ark. OC: The Hogs are hot, having scored at least 44 points in their past three SEC games. McGee, a former OU QB, has learned well under Bobby Petrino, one of the game's sharpest offensive minds. Arkansas is No. 3 in the nation led by its potent offense, which had to deal with the loss of record-setting QB Ryan Mallett, a great tight end D.J. Williams and then, on the eve of the season, RB Knile Davis yet the Hogs still pile up the points. If McGee and the Hogs can light up the vaunted LSU defense on Friday, the young coach's stock will really rise.

7. Pat Narduzzi, Michigan State, DC: Yet another Youngstown guy making it big in college coaching. Narduzzi and his boss Mark Dantonio have done another great job producing a ferocious defense. MSU is No. 3 in the country in total defense; No. 5 in scoring; No. 5 in pass efficiency defense and No. 10 against the run. Impressive? No doubt. But what really is amazing is that coming into this season, the Spartans lost four of their top five tackles from last year, including star LB Greg Jones.

8. Bud Foster, Va. Tech, DC: The Hokies again have a top-10 defense. Yawn. Foster seems to do this on an annual basis. This season, Tech has had to overcome a bunch of injuries to key guys in its front seven, but regardless of that, the Hokies are 10-1 and leaning on Foster's stifling defense. Trouble is, for all of Foster's success and the respect he has, the 52-year-old has been passed over many times for head coaching jobs and you have to wonder if he'll ever get his shot to run his own program.

9. Tony Levine, Houston, Special Teams Coordinator: Even though most head coaches get hired after being offensive or defensive coordinators, keep an eye on the 39-year-old Levine, a former wideout at Minnesota, who has proven to be one of the country's best special teams coaches and has learned under Kevin Sumlin, John Fox, Bobby Petrino and Tommy Tuberville in his time in college and the NFL. Since he got to UH in 2008, his teams have returned eight kickoffs for TDs and blocked 18 kicks. That's fourth-most in the country in that time. He's also been Sumlin's assistant head coach for what has become a very hot program these days. Having also been UH's inside receivers coach for the Cougars' record-breaking offense the past four seasons or exhibiting the organizational experience of being a director of football operation (Louisville) also won't hurt his cause either.

10. (tie) Frank Wilson, LSU, RB coach/recruiting coordinator: A New Orleans native, Wilson has emerged as arguably the nation's top recruiter. He has found and reeled in studs at Ole Miss, Southern Miss, Tennessee and now at LSU, but the guy has proven to be a lot more than just a recruiter. No assistant may be more respected by his players. And he has proven he knows how to run a program and be a leader. Back when he was 27, he took over a downtrodden high school program in New Orleans and turned the place upside down. In one year, the team GPA jumped from 1.5 to 2.5 and his team knocked off Louisiana powerhouse John Curtis HS with its first district loss in 25 years. By Wilson's third season at the school, they were playing in the state title game.

10. (tie) Tom Herman, Iowa State, OC:  The Mensa guy I wrote about last week had a big Friday night helping lead the Cyclones to the biggest win in school history, upsetting No. 2 Oklahoma State in double-overtime, 37-31 boosting ISU to 6-4. Iowa State's numbers on offense this season are far from head-turning: 44th in total offense and 75th in scoring, but remember this is a guy who produced top 10 offenses at Rice just a few years back and helped that program get to its first bowl game in over a half-century. Like Morris and Levine, if he gets a long look when a few of these jobs in the Southwest open up.

Since: Mar 7, 2008
Posted on: November 22, 2011 9:42 pm

Tuesday Top 10: Fastest-rising assistant coaches

oNwhat basis does anyone think that Chad Morris would leave Clemson ? he is just in his second year as a college coordinator , and just his first at a major university. he has publicly stated that he wants to stay in Clemson and see where he can go with his recruits..of which wont even be on campus before the 2012 spring session. Maybe if the right head coaching job was offered to him  he might consider...but Clemson is the rare southern university that can compete on the recruiting trail with the sec and all evidenced by our 2nd straight top 10 recruiting class yet to come. Morris will stay at Clemson through loyalty to Dabo for giving him his big break and because Clemson has stated that it is going to be "competitve" for his services ... i.e. big raise and extension. Go Tigers .

Since: Apr 16, 2007
Posted on: November 22, 2011 8:05 pm

Tuesday Top 10: Fastest-rising assistant coaches

OU's secondary is a product of the DB coach, Willie Martinez. Ya know, the guy who Coach Richt fired at Georgia for having such terrible defenses over the years.

The real assistant coach award should goto Todd Grantham who totally flipped Georgia's defense into one of the nations best. Kirby Smart is nothing but Saban's puppet. Todd Grantham is in total control of his defense.

Since: Dec 8, 2010
Posted on: November 22, 2011 7:43 pm

Tuesday Top 10: Fastest-rising assistant coaches

Garrick McGee is the next big thing.  Would love to see Penn St. take a chance on this guy.  We need a complete makeover and this guy would be ideal even though he is a South guy. 

Since: Aug 20, 2006
Posted on: November 22, 2011 7:11 pm

Tuesday Top 10: Fastest-rising assistant coaches

Greg Mattison takes over a defense rated 110th in the country.  The roster is heavy on offense and thin on defense.  He reshapes them into a top 20 defense and recruits the best defensive recruiting class in the country.  How is he not in your top 11 assistants?

Since: Dec 26, 2006
Posted on: November 22, 2011 6:11 pm

Tuesday Top 10: Fastest-rising assistant coaches

How is John Chavis , LSU DC, not on here? Not only should he be here, he should be #1 ! I swear these Cbs writers are a joke. Manny Diaz. HA, you're kidding ?

Since: Sep 28, 2007
Posted on: November 22, 2011 5:53 pm

Tuesday Top 10: Fastest-rising assistant coaches

No conference pays its players better than the $EC.

Since: Jul 23, 2009
Posted on: November 22, 2011 5:40 pm

Tuesday Top 10: Fastest-rising assistant coaches

Id love to see Malzhan stay at Auburn for years to come but I know thats not reality.Gus did show loyalty last year turning down $3million from Vandy and saying no thanks to Maryland but Chappel Hill would be perfect for him.Malzhan has only been in college coaching for 6 to 7 years now and he has proven to be an offensive mastermind and has done wonders to be considered for these great jobs so soon.I hope the $1.3 million he makes at AU as the O.C. will be enough to keep  him in Auburn for atleast one more year,if not good luck Gus,thanks for being an Auburn man...

Since: Nov 29, 2006
Posted on: November 22, 2011 5:30 pm

Tuesday Top 10: Fastest-rising assistant coaches

Manny Diaz?  Are you serious? What a joke!  Do you watch Football?  Texass' D is worse under Diaz than his predecessor.

Since: Oct 26, 2011
Posted on: November 22, 2011 4:20 pm

Tuesday Top 10: Fastest-rising assistant coaches

Your Right Reb,
;     &nbs
p;     &nb
sp;   Nicky Baby runs THE SHOW.Nick has a hard time getting coaches,and keeping them,because he wants you to work 24/7 just like he does.He maybe THE MOST DRIVEN COACH IN THE COLLEGE GAME.He tells the School what kind coffee cups to order,and you think I'm kidding,well i ain't I'm a good ole WV Boy too.

Since: Aug 13, 2008
Posted on: November 22, 2011 12:07 pm

Tuesday Top 10: Fastest-rising assistant coaches

JaxDawg05, you got me on that one.

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