Wednesday, October 29, 2008

New Coach for the Vols - Guess Who.

Handicapping the Field

• Will Muschamp – PROS – Muschamp is a tireless worker and by all accounts a phenomenal recruiter. He would give Tennessee an instant “mean streak and swagger” at the head coach position. He is energetic to the point of being hyper and he would likely relish the opportunity to get back into the SEC as a head coach. CONS – He has never been a head coach before and just because you are a great fiery defensive coordinator who can recruit and is full of energy does not mean you will be a success – ie – see Ed Orgeron. The other negative is that he is a defensive coordinator and Tennessee may be in need of some offensive minded help. INTERESTING TIDBITS – Tennessee would likely have to increase its budget for clipboards if it hires Muschamp. He has a penchant for breaking them much as Spurrier likes to chuck visors. Muschamp has been known to breach the clipboards into his hand and continue to coach while bleeding everywhere. Got to love that mentality. QUALIFICATIONS – Muschamp cannot be questioned as a defensive mind. He has been linebackers coach and defensive coordinator at LSU, Auburn, and Texas and always puts a top tier defense on the field. Everywhere he has worked the word that follows him is “genius.” Nick Saban says he is the best assistant coach he has ever worked with and will be a great head coach.
• Tim Brewster – PROS – Brewster is a student of the game who is considered a great recruiter. He has head coaching experience at Minnesota and could likely be lured away with moderate expense. He has shown the ability to recruit at a top notch level even at Minnesota and he has NFL experience. CONS – While he has NFL experience it was as a tight ends coach. He was 1-11 last season at Minnesota and really was on the hot seat before becoming the flavor of the month this season. His season so far this year has been strong, but the schedule has been terribly weak. The Gophers have only played one ranked team and that resulted in a 13 point loss to Ohio State. They have a common opponent as the Vols – they beat Northern Illinois by 4. Brewster’s claim to fame is recruiting, but he has no offensive nor defensive coordinator experience to hang his hat on. INTERESTING TIDBITS – Brewster is known for his work with tight ends and his use of the tight end in his offenses. He is widely credited with the development of Antonio Gaines in San Diego. QUALIFICATIONS – A great recruiter is a requirement of a head coach at Tennessee and Brewster fits the bill. He also has NFL experience which could certainly be a plus. He has head coaching experience, though a weak schedule may slightly skew this year’s impressive record.
• Chris Peterson – PROS – Peterson has an incredible 91% winning percentage as head coach of the Boise State Broncos. Peterson’s Broncos are always among the nations best offensive teams and he coaches an aggressive blitzing defense that is usually among the stingiest in the land as well. CONS – Boise State coaches have a history of leaving and flaming out in other conferences. Dirk Koetter flamed out with a 40-34 record at Arizona State and Dan Hawkins has just a 12-21 record since leaving the smurf turf for the greener pastures in Colorado. Peterson is also a scientologist which may be a negative to recruiting in the south. Peterson has not really turned a program around, he took over a program already on very solid footing at Boise State. It is unclear how good a recruiter he would be at a top tier school. INTERESTING TIDBITS – Peterson is known for his penchant for trick plays. His famous “Stature of Liberty” play to beat Oklahoma in overtime overshadowed that he had gotten that game to overtime via a 4th and 18 “Hook and Lateral.” QUALIFICATIONS – A stunning winning percentage, coupled with great offenses and defenses have lead Peterson to be a hot young coach. The failures of his predecessors along with his leadership of a program that was already atop its league is not his fault, but does leave a lot of questions about rebuilding a program in a tougher league.
• Butch Davis – PROS – Davis is a winner on the college level. He is similar to Nick Saban in that Davis has made a name of himself by running a very tight ship that wins games not with stunning gameplans, but with good fundamentals. Davis is a very good recruiter with ties to South Florida from his days as Miami’s head coach. Davis’ experience at running bigtime football programs, and his experience in the NFL make him a very attractive commodity and one who is not too far away in North Carolina. CONS – Davis has made it known through his agent Jimmy Sexton that he thinks the top schools in the SEC for recruiting are Georgia, Florida, and LSU. He also has made it known that he sees the SEC as much more difficult to win at a high level in than the ACC and would therefore be inclined to stay at UNC. Davis has a rather high salary and buyout and with Sexton as his agent, it would cost Tennessee dearly to go across the mountains to lure him west. INTERESTING TIDBITS – Davis never won a national championship with the Hurricanes, though he got terribly close. He turned their program around and was a very successful coach for “The U,” but his ultimate success in their program came a year after he left for the NFL. QUALIFICATIONS – Davis is extremely qualified and has been a very good college coach with a reputation for running a good program the right way. He has NFL experience and is a good recruiter. Davis’ big drawbacks are big bucks and his desire to stay in the ACC where winning comes easier.
• John Gruden – PROS – CHUCKIE is a tenacious winner that would certainly give a fresh and easily identifiable face to the program. Gruden has ties to the program and to the East Tennessee area as well. As the head coach of the Tampa Bay Bucs, Gruden could sell recruits on his NFL experience, and could take his Super Bowl Championship Ring with him while recruiting to make a likely favorable impression. Gruden has intensity, toughness and is easily recognized. He also has tons of head coaching experience. CONS – Gruden’s Bucs are still good and he is still getting paid at a very high clip. Its one thing to enter a bidding war with North Carolina, and quite another to challenge an NFL team in the Price is Right. Also consider that college coaching and NFL coaching is a different game. The college ranks are littered with former NFL head coaches who flamed out at the college level and visu-versa. This would be a very expensive swing and miss if that were to happen. INTERESTING TIDBITS – Gruden’s father was an assistant coach with Notre Dame and John did something that has been extremely difficult in the NFL – he won with the Oakland Raiders. Gruden took the Raiders to the playoffs 3 straight years. QUALIFICATIONS – Well let’s see here – a borderline Hall of Fame NFL coaching resume has got to stand for something. The question is whether he would want to come to the college game when he is still winning in the NFL and if he does, could we even afford him.
• Lane Kiffin – PROS – Kiffin has a reputation as a solid recruiter and an offensive mind. He also has the possibility of being able to bring in his father who is considered a brilliant defensive mind and is the creator of the “Tampa 2” defensive scheme. Kiffin has a recognizable face, some NFL head coaching experience, and has served under Pete Carroll at USC. Perhaps the most enticing thing about Kiffin is that he is currently unemployed and would cost UT nothing in a buyout. He is also very young and would possibly be a nice long term fix. CONS – Kiffin failed pretty miserably as the Raiders coach, but that in and of itself isn’t a disqualifier since pretty much everyone has. Kiffin has no college coaching experience and is more of a west coast guy than an SEC guy. If we got Kiffin there is no guarantee his dad would come too, and even if he did, his defensive schemes are known more for their bend and don’t break than their aggression. INTERESTING TIDBIT – Norm Chow has been no great fan of Kiffin. Chow stated that UCLA defensive coach Dewayne Walker was a better coach than either Kiffin or Sarkisian. QUALIFICATIONS – Kiffin may come a bit cheaper than most former NFL coaches. He is also a young coach with a good pedigree and a strong reputation. The question is though if you put a Pete Carroll and USC in the SEC do they cease to be USC?
• Gary Pinkel – PROS – Pinkel seems to be flying under the radar a bit since Missouri suffered back to back losses in the rugged Big 12. That being said, Pinkel has done a lot in turning around the Tigers and his exciting brand of offense and adequate defense should garner him some consideration. Pinkel has had to deal with some things at Mizzu that would face him at UT – mainly, a lack of in-state talent. Pinkel has been a very good recruiter for the Tigers however and could sell his fast paced offense to recruits much as Bruce Pearl has his. CONS – It’s a long way from Mizzu to UT Toto. While Pinkel has done a remarkable job turning around Missouri’s program, he has still struggled to beat the top teams in the Big 12. At 56, Pinkel is a bit older than most of the candidates on this list and one has to wonder if the Vols would take an SEC outsider at his age over a Spurrier or Tubberville if they came available. INTERESTING TIDBIT – Pinkel and Tennessee are tied together in one very interesting way. Chase Daniel seemed to be headed to Tennessee, but was scared off by the spector of Jonathon Crompton. Seems like Daniel made a wise choice. QUALIFICATIONS – winning at Mizzu and having little talent in state to recruit seems similar to wining at Tennessee with little talent in state. The question here is age and lack of SEC pedigree. How far “outside the program” is Tennessee willing to go?
• Mike Leach – PROS – WOW – the offense is amazing. No one can argue that Mike Leach cannot coach offense. He may be this generation’s Steve Spurrier (OLD ball coach). Leach has shown a propensity for scoring against anyone including Texas and Oklahoma and his hiring would likely bring a new and exciting offensive swagger to the Vols. CONS – Leach’s offense is not really conducive to defense. It could be a volatile mix kind of like June Jones and Buddy Ryan. Leach’s quick strike offense doesn’t take a lot of time off the clock and leaves his defense to get tired quickly. That being said, it does score. Leach is not really considered a top notch recruiter so he would likely have to surround himself with talented recruiters. Wow, he really does seem a lot like Spurrier. INTERESTING TIDBIT – Leach is one of only 4 head coaches at Division I that did not play college football. The others are Weiss (Notre Dame), Mangino (Kansas), and Paul Johnson (Georgia Tech). QUALIFICATIONS – Leach’s offenses have that “wow” power. Leach also has never had a losing season at Texas Tech – take that Coach Fulmer. That being said, Leach’s system in the SEC would be interesting to watch. It would likely necessitate the hiring of some great recruiting assistant coaches and a top notch defensive coach. Spurrier has shown that quick strike offenses can work in the SEC, but that was a different time – would they still today?

There are other candidates out there, but this was a list of the top ones from my point of view.

1 comment:

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