Posted on: February 9, 2011 6:39 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2011 3:36 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Not many coaches left behind bigger shoes to fill this offseason than Dana Holgorsen, the man behind the Oklahoma State offense ranked No. 3 in the country last season. Now we know the man who's going to do his best to fill them.
The Cowboys and head coach Mike Gundy announced today that that man is Jacksonville Jaguars assistant coach Todd Monken, who had coached the Jaguar wideouts for the previous four seasons and had just been promoted to the team's quarterback coaching position for 2011. Monken has experience in Stillwater, having coached receivers for Les Miles from 2002 to 2004 before moving with Miles to LSU.
While Monken's position coaching resume (and Big 12 and SEC experience) is impressive, he's only spent two years as a coordinator at the college level, running the Eastern Michigan attack all the way back in 1998 and 1999. Going 12 years between calling plays might mean that Monken will have to knock some of the rust off. Monken also comes to OSU without a single firm offensive identity; as he says in this Q&A , he's worked in several different offensive systems and is "flexible" above anything else.
But the good news for Cowboys fans is that if Gundy believes Monken can adapt to the Cowboy's trademark spread and help keep it humming, there's an excellent chance he'll do just that. Gundy's track record as a hirer of offensive coordinators is outstanding, with Larry Fedora and Holgorsen both moving onto head coaching jobs after smashingly successful tenures in Stillwater. Between Gundy's expertise, Monken's experience, and weapons like Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon, the Cowboys shouldn't see too big a slip on offense ... no matter how big Holgorsen's shoes might be.
Posted on: February 8, 2011 12:59 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2011 3:51 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
On paper, it's hard to imagine Maryland landing a better offensive coordinator than they did when Randy Edsall hired old colleague Gary Crowton in January. Crowton was the mastermind behind two of the nation's most explosive offenses of the past 15 years, first at Louisiana Tech and then BYU, and would go on to earn a national championship ring as the coordinator for Les Miles' 2007 LSU team. Speaking in terms of overall resume, only a handful of offensive coaches in the entire country are in Crowton's ballpark.
But if Crowton looks like a big catch for the Terps, it's without noticing the big catch on that resume: his final two years in Baton Rouge, in which his offenses -- despite a bounty of talent (quarterback arguably aside) that would be the envy of nearly any team in the country -- managed to finish dead last and 11th in the SEC in total offense, respectively. Despite Crowton's high-flying history at Tech and BYU, the Tiger passing game was particularly atrocious, finishing 97th in the nation in aerial yardage in 2009 and 107th in 2010.
What went so wrong? Speaking to the press this weekend about what he was looking for out of new coordinator hire Steve Kragthorpe, Miles may have let slip about what he saw as the problem (emphasis added):
"I just felt like [Kragthorpe] could short cut some of the elaborate thought process that was going on ," LSU coach Les Miles said. "I think the reality of it is I need a guy who needs execution. I don't want him to say, 'Boy, that's a good idea.' The 'good idea' that's not executed looks like an ugly play, OK. And so for me, I needed it to be done extremely well."It doesn't even take much reading between the lines to see that Miles believes Crowton's philosophy got too "elaborate," that he tried to incorporate more "ideas" into the offense than his team could correctly execute.
As Chris Brown at Smart Football pointed out when Crowton was hired at Maryland , the kitchen-sink strategy was nothing new for Crowton. From a 1998 Sports Illustrated profile of record-breaking Tech quarterback Tim Rattay:
Rattay also liked Crowton, the mastermind behind what some people in football call a “global offense” for its anything-goes approach to moving the ball. As a journeyman assistant, Crowton studied under LaVell Edwards, Mike Holmgren and Tom Coughlin , among others, and at Tech he has established his reputation as a formation geek who really likes to chuck the ball. Having run out of numbers with which to label his plays, Crowton, who became head coach in 1996, turned to the heavens for inspiration. “We’ve got formations called Moon, Sun, Stars and Mars,” he says. “Something we did looked like a star, so I called it that."Sometime between Crowton's early successes and LSU failures, Crowton crossed the line from keeping defenses off-balance with his offense's variety and keeping his own team off-balance and uncertain (a process Brown calls "subtraction by addition"), with Miles's stinging comments the final, don't-let-the-door-hit-you confirmation. That's in no way meant to suggest Crowton can't succeed and succeed in style at Maryland, but it also seems clear that to live up to his full resume's billing, he's going to have to simplify, simplify, simplify. As Miles said: at some point, putting even the best ideas to use is a bad idea.
HT: Mr. SEC
Posted on: January 31, 2011 7:10 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
The Virginia Tech-centric blog Gobbler Country posted an interested study today, examining the breakdown of championship-winning coaches' ages in the modern era of college football. The question raised is "how old is too old," and excepting some obvious outliers, the answer is "younger than you think."
What's even more unsettling to programs with older coaches is the breakdown of championships by age bracket:
Not only is there a precipitous dropoff from the early 50s to 60+, those five titles were won by just three coaches: The aforementioned Bowden with two, Bear Bryant with two, and Joe Paterno -- the three most celebrated coaches of the modern era of I-A football. What's more, Bryant had won his first title at the age of 50, while Paterno won his first at 56. Bowden didn't win his first until he was 64, but that was after six straight top-five finishes in the final poll for Florida State. In other words, each of those three coaches firmly established his national championship bona fides before his 60th birthday, while every other coach who ever hit 60 in the last 50 years was quite evidently past his prime.
It's not really surprising, then, to have seen Maryland jettison longtime head coach Ralph Friedgen, who was 63 at the end of the 2010 and who clearly wasn't about to win a title at such a mediocre football school (no offense, Terps, but let's be honest). Incoming coach Randy Edsall will have just turned 53 at the outset of the 2011 season, and while one might joke that Maryland's only got two seasons of Edsall in his prime before it all goes downhill, it's not as if he's got 15 years in front of him with the Terrapins.
So with all this in mind, here are a few more notable coaches and their ages as of the start of the 2011 season. It would be incorrect to say there's a "new generation" of coaches on the move (seven years or so doesn't really constitute a generational gap) but it's pretty clear that a few of these guys aren't lasting much more than five years -- especially if they're not winning 10 games a year anymore.
Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech, 64
Now obviously, not all of these schools are going to win national championships in the next 5-10 years. But by and large, most of these schools do pay their coaches a gigantic salary -- to the point that the expectation of competing on a national level is inevitable. If a coach is struggling in his fourth or fifth year with a program, is an athletic director going to be more apt to fire the coach if he's 57 instead of 47? Is that age discrimination, or common sense?
Tags: Al Golden, BCS Championships, Bear Bryant, Bo Pelini, Bob Stoops, Bobby Petrino, Brady Hoke, Brian Kelly, Chip Kelly, Chris Petersen, College Football Coaches, Dan Mullen, Frank Beamer, Gary Patterson, Gene Chizik, Jim Tressel, Joe Paterno, Joe Paterno, Kirk Ferentz, Kyle Whittingham, Lane Kiffin, Les Miles, Mack Brown, Mark Richt, Mike Gundy, Mike Leach, Nick Saban, Will Muschamp
Posted on: January 21, 2011 12:48 pm
Edited on: January 21, 2011 12:54 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
Jordan Jefferson has been a polarizing figure for LSU fans during his three year career in Baton Rouge. The Tigers offense has ranked near the bottom of the conference for the last two seasons, both with Jefferson at least taking a good portion of the snaps. In 2010, Jefferson found himself sitting series' out while Jarrett Lee took more snaps near the middle of the season. But Jefferson did finish strong, particularly his four touchdown performance against Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl.
But with offensive coordinator Gary Crowton run off to Maryland, head coach Les Miles has decided to bring in Steve Kragthorpe, formerly with Louisville and Tulsa. Additionally, the Tigers will have touted junior college transfer Zach Mettenberger. The former Georgia recruit will enter LSU with high expectations from a fan base that has become restless with an offense that has struggled and, some would say, cost them a shot at the SEC Championship.
Kragthorpe will likely open competition between Jefferson and Mettenberger, perhaps even choosing to use both. Traditionally, Kragthorpe has been known to run a pro-style offense. Glenn Guilbeau, of the Shreveport Times, suggests that this will be an advantage for Mettenberger - a drop back, pro style quarterback.
Mettenberger is certainly a talented quarterback with a lot of potential, his 6-5 230 pound frame is comparable to Arkansas' Ryan Mallett. But despite the advantages of his style matching Kragthorpe's system, Jefferson should have a fair shot at the starting job. Jefferson may have thrown 10 interceptions and only 7 touchdowns in 2010, but he did lead the Tigers to an 11-2 record and a Cotton Bowl victory. With all the talent returning, LSU will likely be a preseason favorite in the SEC. There is no reason to jump the gun benching Jefferson, though if he starts throwing interceptions early Tiger fans will be calling for Mettenberger. They won't do so quietly either, LSU fans don't know "quiet."
Posted on: January 20, 2011 10:38 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The LSU offensive coordinator's position should be one of the most sought-after in college football: a steady supply of premium-grade home-grown talent, a more-or-less permanent place in the race for one of the premier division titles in the sport, a fearsome defense that means your unit could, say, finish no higher than 11th in the conference in total yardage over two seasons and you could still claim a role in 20 wins over that span. Les Miles ought to have his pick of nearly any offensive assistant in the country.
So why on earth would he pick this assistant?
Yes, the Baton Rouge Advocate means that Kragthorpe, Steve Kragthorpe, the coach most notorious for tearing down in the space of one season what had taken Bobby Petrino years to build at Louisville. As assistant coaching hires go, taking a flyer on one of the biggest head coaching failures of the past decade isn't going to be the most inspiring choice.
That's not to say it couldn't work out anyway. Kragthorpe had a highly successful tenure at Tulsa that won him the Cardinal job in the first place, and many of the failed responsibilities that led to his dismal record at Louisville won't be issues as an assistant. He also has productive experience as an OC, calling plays for R.C. Slocum at Texas A&M in the late '90s and even winning a Big 12 title in that role in 1998.
All the same, his Tulsa success was built on a foundation of solid defense rather than offense. And when you have as many options as Miles must have had for filling the vacancy, settling on a name so closely associated with the stench of misery at Louisville seems like, well, settling. Kragthorpe's hardly doomed to failure in Baton Rouge -- in fact, the grade of talent at his disposal suggests he could be a smashing success even without much in the way of innovation or creativity -- but until LSU fans see his offense in action, they should be forgiven for scratching their heads.
Posted on: January 13, 2011 12:12 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The funny thing about Les Miles staying at LSU was that it may have been the first time in history a coach decided to stay at his current job and disappointed the fan bases of both schools. Of course, even if there are a few LSU fans out there who aren't big fans of Miles, there's like three to four times as many who didn't like offensive coordinator Gary Crowton.
So this should make them pretty happy.
This isn't much of a shocker, as there were rumors that Crowton was on his way out on Wednesday, and Les Miles wasn't exactly emphatic about denying any changes to his coaching staff. In fact, it's long been Miles' habit to never actually fire his assistants, but rather have them find other jobs. So the fact that a day after reports said Crowton was going to lose his job he's announcing he's accepted the same position at Maryland isn't surprising.
So now we can all turn our attention to Crowton's replacement at LSU, and whether or not he'll be just as hated, or if he can actually mold all the offensive talent that the Tigers recruit into a competent offense.
Posted on: January 12, 2011 5:50 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Not that coaching at LSU doesn't come with far, far more than its fair share of interesting days, but it's safe to say this one has been more interesting than most for current -- and potentially future -- Bayou Bengal offensive coordinator Gary Crowton.
A longtime target of abuse from LSU fans upset (and understandably so) with their immensely talented team's recent finishes in the SEC in total offense -- dead last in 2009, before an improvement all the way to 11th in 2010 -- Crowton had reportedly been dismissed by head coach Les Miles this week, according to Lousiana-based reporter Glenn Guilbeau . But only hours after that report surfaced, Crowton himself went public to say that he is still a member of the LSU staff :
LSU offensive coordinator Gary Crowton has not been fired and for now at least, still plans on being on Les Miles’ LSU staff next season.Some of the confusion no doubt stems from the fact that Crowton did admit to interviewing for the Maryland offensive coordinator's position under new coach Randy Edsall, a colleague of Crowton's at Boston College in the early '90s. If Crowton was fully committed to LSU and knew LSU was fully committed to him, it's worth asking why he'd bother to pursue the Maryland job.
The obvious answer is that one side or the other isn't, in fact, all that committed. Miles didn't exactly shut the door to a staff shakeup when he said the following during a Tuesday press conference (emphasis added):
“I really don't know exactly what to tell you. I know we'll have a staff meeting on Thursday morning. I'm not ready to say that there won't be some changes on the staff . I don't know that I necessarily am going to be the factor there as opposed to other great opportunities so we'll have to see how that goes.”Crowton's all right for today. But tomorrow promises to be just as interesting.
(Oh, and an aside about that last, wonderfully Milesian sentence in the quote immediately above: it means "Some of the staff may be hired away by other teams rather than being fired by LSU." We think.)
Posted on: January 11, 2011 5:42 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
DALLAS, Tex. - Les Miles joked about the hubbub involving Michigan’s open head coaching position while speaking at the American Football Coaches Association Conference. His cell phone even accidently dialed Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon’s phone.
At the end of the day though, he wasn’t a Michigan man but an LSU one.
“The need to stand by my commitment to the team that I coach and the school that I represent really overshadowed any other consideration,” Miles said. “I had a very nice talk with the Michigan A.D. He obviously is going to provide leadership for them. His concerns and his direction are straightforward. He represented Michigan as I would have as an alumnus and ex-Michigan player. I couldn’t be happier with the way things turned out and I root very strongly for my alma mater.”
Miles declined to discuss whether he was ever offered the job but did acknowledge that he met with athletic director Dave Brandon to discuss the position.
“I’m not really going to get into the specifics of that in deference to (Michigan),” he said. “We took a good portion of the evening.”
Miles was an offensive lineman at Michigan in the mid-seventies and considered taking the head coaching position in 2007 after Lloyd Carr stepped down. Miles did admit he has imagined himself as the head coach in Ann Arbor in the past but is at peace with his decision to remain at LSU.
“Absolutely,” Miles said. “The want to have our school, as an alumnus, to be successful is my greatest concern. I can’t imagine that it won’t be addressed and done right.”
Michigan announced the hiring of San Diego State head coach Brady Hoke while Miles was delivering a speech but he was later informed that Hoke had been hired.
“I know his background is as a Michigan assistant and I tried to hire him at Oklahoma State,” Miles said. “He’ll be a great representative of the University of Michigan. I don’t (know him) very, very well but I was at Oklahoma State and interviewed him for an opportunity there and think very highly of him.”
LSU announced Miles would return for his seventh season at the school on Tuesday morning.