Posted on: January 27, 2012 3:48 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The staff turnover at South Carolina continues.
Safeties coach Jeep Hunter was fired on Friday morning. Hunter learned of the news while in an airport waiting to return from a recruiting trip. According to Hunter, he received a phone call from Steve Spurrier to inform him of the news.
"I just got a phone call from (Spurrier) saying he wanted to go in a different direction," Hunter told The State.
Hunter spent three seasons as an assistant at South Carolina. The 2011 season was his first year on the defensive side of the ball, as he spent the previous two seasons coaching tight ends and was an assistant special teams coordinator.
Hunter is the fifth assistant to leave the South Carolina program this year. Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson, running backs coach Jay Graham, special teams coach John Butler, and strength coach Craig Fitzgerald have all left the program in recent weeks. All but Fitzgerald have been replaced.
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Posted on: January 24, 2012 4:26 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
With all 28 positions now filled, here's one team-by-team assessment of where the SEC stands at the two most important assistant coaching positions. Yesterday, the West. Today, the East:
2011: Charlie Weis as the offensive coordinator, Dan Quinn defensive.
Thumbs up/down? TBD. Weis had his moments (offensively speaking, anyway) at Notre Dame, but they nearly all came via the arms of Brady Quinn or Jimmy Clausen and the Irish's cadre of top-notch receivers--making him a terrible fit for both Will Muschamp's visions of an Alabama-like ground game and the Gators' pass-poor personnel. On paper, replicating the Broncos' balanced mix-and-match approach should be a much snugger fit. But Pease arrives with just one season of play-calling experience under his belt, and at that a season in which Boise ran the ball much more poorly than they had in recent years (34th in average yards per-carry, down from 10th in both 2009 and 2010). And thanks in large part to iffy quarterback play, Texas's 2011 attempt to import the Boise offense (via Pease predecessor Bryan Harsin) hardly set the world on fire--an ill omen for a team whose current QBs, sophomores Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett, looked out of their depth as freshmen. Pease has promise, but the jury is very much out.
2011: Mike Bobo offensive, Todd Grantham defensive.
Departures: Status quo.
Thumbs up/down? Up, obviously. Bobo managed the offense as well as could be expected given the injury-struck units at running back and receiver, and Grantham came into his own as one of the SEC's hottest coordinating commodities after piloting his young Dawgs to a top-five finish in total D. Richt has no reason to consider change at either slot.
2011: Randy Sanders offensive, Rick Minter and Steve Brown defensive.
Departures: Brown was fired after the 'Cats finished 10th in the SEC and 58th nationally.
2012: Minter has been promoted to full defensive coordinator.
Thumbs up/down? Down. Despite Brown's dismissal, Minter's role as play-caller and lead defensive game-planner means that Joker Phillips is keeping things almost entirely status quo--the entire 2011 offensive coaching staff will return, for instance, even after the hapless 'Cats finished a miserable 118th nationally in total offense and 117th in scoring. Phillips' loyalty to Sanders and the rest of his staff is admirable (and the upset of Tennessee was undoubtedly sweet), but if those kinds of numbers aren't enough to cause a shakeup, what would be?
2011: David Yost offensive, David Steckel defensive.
Thumbs up/down? Up. These are the Daves Gary Pinkel knows, and after several productive seasons in Columbia (if not spectacular where 2011 was concerned), there's no reason to make a change before testing their mettle in the SEC.
2011: Steve Spurrier is his own OC; Ellis Johnson ran the defense.
Departures: Johnson took the head coaching position at Southern Miss.
2012: Spurrier promoted defensive backs coach (and "defensive coordinator" in title only) Lorenzo Ward to replace Johnson.
Thumbs up/down? Tentatively up. Ward spent three years leaning Johnson's schemes and already assisted with a similar 4-2-5 approach during his time at Virginia Tech; his promotion means the already successful Gamecock defense (fourth in FBS total D in 2011) won't change much -- if any -- from a schematic standpoint. The only question is if Ward can reproduce Johnson's adept in-game adjustments (see the Gamecocks' second-half shutdown of Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl) and excellent situational play-calling. If he can even come close, the Gamecock D shouldn't miss too many beats.
2011: Jim Chaney offensive, Justin Wilcox defensive.
Departures: Wilcox took the same position at Washington.
2012: Wilcox has been replaced by Alabama linebackers coach Sal Sunseri.
Thumbs up/down? TBD. The Sunseri hire alone would get a thumbs-up, since it's doubtful the Vols could have done much better than the man who just helped put together one of college football's all-time great defenses--not to mention was widely believed to be being groomed to replace Kirby Smart when the current Tide DC finally takes a head job. While it's hardly guaranteed Sunseri can replicate the Tide defense in Knoxville any more than Pease can replicate the Boise offense in Gainesville, there's no arguing with attempting that replication after what the Crimson Tide D has accomplished of late.
The question is if Derek Dooley should have also looked for a replacement for Chaney. Following Lane Kiffin's departure, Chaney's two years in sole charge of the Vol offense have produced a slide from 60th (in 2009) to 75th to an awful 104th in total offense. Chaney has without question been dealt a rough hand, having been forced to deal with widespread inexperience as well as catastrophic injuries, and a little bit of continuity on a staff already wracked by upheaval is a major positive. So we don't blame Dooley for standing pat in the OC's chair ... though if Chaney can't engineer a dramatic turnaround in 2012, we suspect there's plenty of Vol supporters who will.
2011: John Donovan offensive, Bob Shoop defensive.
Thumbs up/down? Well up. The Commodore offense only ranked 81st in yards per-play, that was still a far sight better than the 111th they managed in 2010. Meanwhile, Shoop quietly pulled off one of the nation's most impressive coordinating jobs by pulling the 'Dores up from 76th to 14th in the same statistic. Clearly, there's no call for James Franklin to change things up at this stage.
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Tags: Alabama, Bob Shoop, Brady Quinn, Bryan Harsin, Capital One Bowl, Charlie Weis, Dan Quinn, David Steckel, David Yost, Derek Dooley, Ellis Johnson, Gary Pinkel, Georgia, Jacoby Brissett, James Franklin, James Franklin the Vanderbilt coach not the Missouri quarterback, Jeff Driskel, Jerry Hinnen, Jim Chaney, Jimmy Clausen, John Donovan, Joker Phillips, Justin Wilcox, Kentucky, Kirby Smart, Lane Kiffin, Lorenzo Ward, Mike Bobo, Missouri, Nebraska, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Randy Sanders, Rick Minter, Sal Sunseri, SEC, South Carolina, Southern Miss, Steve Brown, Steve Spurrier, Tennessee, Texas, Todd Grantham, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, Washington, Will Muschamp
Posted on: December 20, 2011 2:27 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
After losing head coach Larry Fedora to the North Carolina job, Southern Miss needed to find a new face to head its football program. It has apparently found that new head coach in South Carolina defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Ellis Johnson.
Johnson, who is three days away from his 60th birthday, has reportedly accepted an offer from USM after interviewing with school president Martha Saunders on Monday night, according to the Clarion-Ledger, and is expected to accept the job as early as Tuesday. Johnson has a brief history with Southern Miss, as he was the defensive coordinator there in 1988 and 1989.
The South Carolina defense ranked in the Top 15 nationally in total defense in three of Johnson's four years in Columbia, and this year was the Gamecocks' best of the four. South Carolina ranked second nationally in pass efficiency defense this season, and fourth nationally (behind three other SEC teams, of course).
Prior to his time at South Carolina, Johnson spent time at various teams in the SEC and elsewhere in the southeastern U.S, including a four-year stint as Alabama's defensive coordinator from 1997 to 2000. Johnson was the head coach at the Citadel, his alma mater, from 2001-03; he managed a 12-22 record there before taking a job as Mississippi State's defensive coordinator in 2004.
No announcements of an impending hire have been made by Southern Miss, and no reports have surface about any contract terms that Johnson may have agreed to, but the "two sources with direct knowledge of the search" at USM that the Clarion-Ledger cited have indicated that the hire is a done deal.
CBSSports.com will provide more informaton when it becomes available.
Posted on: September 24, 2011 10:33 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
SOUTH CAROLINA WON: Despite a first half from Stephen Garcia that even a half-completed Jenga tower would describe as "oh, way too damn shaky," the Gamecock defense showed that it still knows how to put the clamps on -- and that Vandy, for all its progress, still has a long way to go -- by holding the visiting 'Dores to 71 total yards, 5 first downs, and no scoring drive longer than ... wait for it ... six yards. That Marcus Lattimore kid continued proving he might be an all-right player, too--he collected 151 yards from scrimmage (78 rushing, 73 receiving) and two touchdowns, doing nothing to hurt his budding Heisman campaign.
WHY SOUTH CAROLINA WON: Because if it's Vanderbilt and Jay Cutler isn't under center, it doesn't matter how energetic or shrewd the Commodore coaching staff might be: the offense is not going to do a whole lot.
Oh, James Franklin might change that eventually, but he hasn't been able to yet. Even against a questionable Gamecock secondary, Larry Smith was his usual inefficient, wobbly self, completing 13-of-17 but for a nonexistent 2.8 yards an attempt. The offensive line struggled all night against Melvin Ingram, Jadeveon Clowney and Co., yielding six sacks and rushing for negative-1 yards for the night. And turnovers were, unsurprisingly, a major problem. Clowney stripped Smith twice -- once of those fumbles returned by a combination of Antonio Allen and Ingram for Ingram's third touchdown of the season -- and a Smith interception ended one of the 'Dores few forays across midfield.
Full credit goes to Ellis Johnson for his ever-consistent defensive coaching and the Gamecocks as a unit for a dominant display. But Vandy got a dream performance from Garcia -- an awful four-interception night that got him pulled for Connor Shaw in the fourth quarter and repeatedly set the 'Dores up in great field position -- and still couldn't even stay competitive. Until Franklin can find something to hang his offense's hat on, Vandy might move out of the East cellar (and we won't say that's not an accomplishment), but opponents like the Gamecocks are going to remain well, well out of reach.
WHEN SOUTH CAROLINA WON: Despite their offensive struggles, Garcia's generosity had the visitors poised to regroup at halftime only down 7-3. But with less than 30 seconds remaining and the ball still on the Gamecock side of the 50, Garcia flipped a screen pass to Lattimore ... and he was gone, slaloming through defenders for a Heisman-quality 52-yard score. The way the Carolina defense was locked in, that 11-point deficit might as well have been 30 or 40.
WHAT SOUTH CAROLINA WON: A comfortable victory after a few weeks of drama, and a reminder that when their defensive line is on its game, they can cause enough havoc to win games nearly singlehandedly. Good thing, too, since Garcia did his best to lose it the same way.
WHAT VANDERBILT LOST: A little of the shine off their 3-0 start -- they won't be pulling any votes in next week's polls -- but not many were expecting them to pull this one out.
Posted on: August 31, 2011 3:39 pm
Edited on: August 31, 2011 3:42 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Steve Spurrier has positioned South Carolina to not only make to a run at another SEC East title, but a BCS bowl as well in 2011.
Key to the Old Ball Coach transforming the Gamecocks into a - gulp - perennial contender? Impact freshman from in-state.
In 2009, wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey signed with the program and wound up a consensus Freshman All-American. Last year running back Marcus Lattimore picked South Carolina and was a unanimous pick for National Freshman of the Year as the Gamecocks rolled to a division title.
This year, with perhaps his most talented team returning, Spurrier has added the consensus number one overall recruit in the country in Jadeveon Clowney. The 6-foot-6 defensive end racked up 29.5 sacks his final year in high school and pretty much lived in the opponent's back field. While his dominance is unlikely to translate right away at the collegiate level, it's clear South Carolina is going to incorporate Clowney in their defensive line rotation right from the get-go to see what he can do.
"We're trying to let him learn," Spurrier said Wednesday. "Obviously there's a lot of attention if you're the number one recruit in the nation. He's not listed as the starter but he'll be in there a whole lot, early and often."
An ankle injury has slowed him down some during fall camp but he's abused his fair share of offensive lineman during the month of August. It's unclear how exactly defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson will use his newest weapon but don't be surprised if Clowney rushes the passer as a stand up linebacker on occasion. He'll likely take the field behind senior Melvin Ingram but starting the opener versus East Carolina hasn't been ruled out.
"He may start or he may not, I'm not sure what our line coach wants to do right now," Spurrier said. "He's certainly in the mix and a player who is going to play a lot."
Clowney won't just be a speed rusher off the edge for the Gamecocks either. Spurrier notes the freshman has added a few tricks to his repertoire.
"He's also a power rusher," Spurrier added. "In high school, he flew all over the place, fast, ran around everyone. But he's actually gained about 10 pounds or so and is up to 260 or so. He can use a power move also. That's obviously very good for defensive ends."
A scary proposition for opposing left tackles this season and a reason why several quarterbacks are bracing for his impact.
Posted on: February 24, 2011 6:07 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
This just in: the upwards spiral of major college football coaching salaries isn't going to de-spiral anytime soon.
Your latest evidence arrived this afternoon with the release of salary information for coordinators at both Michigan and LSU. In Ann Arbor, the university has committed some $750,000 to new defensive coordinator Greg Mattison (pictured), with more than $900,000 possible in the (unlikely) event the Wolverines bring home a Big Ten championship. Mattison's contract represents an increase of almost $500,000 over Greg Robinson's approximate $270,000 in the same position last year.
In Baton Rouge, the propsed contract for new offensive coordinator Steve Kragthorpe will match the $700,000 a year currently being paid Bayou Bengal defensive coordinator John Chavis (despite Kragthorpe's substantially thinner resume). Given that Chavis already has his deal signed and delivered, approving the same salary for Kragthorpe appears to be a mere formailty.
With their new contracts, both Mattison and Kragthorpe vault into FBS's highest stratosphere for assistant pay; in 2010, only five assistant coaches nationwide earned as much as $700,000. (Along with Chavis and Texas coach-in-waiting Will Muschamp, Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, Georgia "DC" Todd Grantham, and South Carolina DC Ellis Johnson also hit that mark. It pays and pays well to be a defensive coordinator in the SEC.)
Though Kragthorpe's not about to touch Les Miles' compensation, it's possible that like Jon Embree and his offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy at Colorado , Mattison's salary won't be all that far off from his head coach's. Not only does being an FBS assistant pay better than ever, these days it pays almost as well as being your own head coach.