Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Gregg Brandon?

It's all over the webtubes: the report that former Bowling Green head coach Gregg Brandon has been offered the coordinator position. OK, maybe not all over, but it's out there, and you probably know it by now.

So. Who, now?

Brandon's coaching history, per Wikipedia, the Repository of All Knowledge:

1981-86: Weber State (tight ends '81-'84, '86; special teams '81-'84; linebackers '85; receivers '86)
1987-90: Wyoming (receivers)
1991: Utah State (linebackers)
1992-98: Northwestern (receivers; recruiting coordinator '97-'98)
1999-00: Colorado (receivers, return units; recruiting coordinator '99; passing game coordinator '00)
2001-08: Bowling Green (OC, ass't head coach '00-'01; head coach '02-'08)

So it's been a fairly steady rise, from Weber State tight ends coach to a head coaching position. Not too shabby. What else?

Before I go any further, you should go read the GOB; Mahini beat me to the punch with a little perspective on Brandon and it's worth your time, and it saves me some writing. (But I did my Zaunbrecher one first, har.)

So. That little note at the end of the report: "Brandon uses the spread offense." Calling a coach a user of the spread offense is like calling someone European: yes, they're clearly identifiable as such, but that doesn't mean they all speak the same language. The spread offenses of Mike Leach and Rich Rodriguez are as alike as the Swedish and the Greeks. Brandon happens to be a disciple of the Urban Meyer-style spread, although "disciple" is a little unfair because (link via the GOB) Brandon helped design it.

That offense was put to good use, at least at first. Here's how BGSU's total offense stats look since 2004:

2004: 2nd, 506.3 ypg
2005: 27th, 427.7 ypg
2006: 56th, 345.8 ypg
2007: 53rd, 402.5 ypg
2008: 61st, 359.8 ypg

If you notice a distinct line between good numbers and maybe not-so-good numbers, then you've found out when Omar Jacobs bolted for the NFL.

This offense is something closer to the Rich Rodriguez spread than the Mike Leach spread. It involves heavy doses of the option (a play we run once a season when Mike Groh loses a bet), but more pass-oriented than the flavor of spread Rodriguez runs. Some implications if Brandon is hired:

- There ain't no party like a Vic Hall party cause a Vic Hall party don't stop. Hall, and likewise Jameel Sewell with their running abilities, are reasonably suited to run Brandon's offense. Marc Verica and Ross Metheny are not - their future will be somewhat up in the air if Brandon is brought aboard. Likewise, Tajh Boyd might all of a sudden go "hey whoa cool" and forget about Ohio State. You never know. You don't hire a coordinator just to bring in a recruit, but it'd be a nice little side effect.

- In the same vein, we would need multiple quarterbacks. An option offense means the quarterback gets hit just as often as the running backs, and having both Hall and Sewell fighting for time would suddenly turn out to be a bonus, especially when one of them has their elbows turned to mushy oatmeal like poor unblocked-for Steven Threet at Michigan.

- Already-committed recruits may look elsewhere. You always worry about this during a coaching change. Keep an eye especially on Dominique Wallace, who mentioned not wanting to play in a spread offense. (It's a Rivals pay article.) Understandable, as Wallace is a linebacker-sized bull moose of a running back who prefers running through tackles to running around them.

- The GOB makes some worried noises about the reasons for Brandon's firing - namely, off-the-field issues, and too many of them. Clearly, keeping players out of trouble has not been one of our strong suits. I don't worry about it, in this case. Brandon would be an assistant, not the head coach. I believe discipline issues rest squarely on the shoulders of the head coach. It's his job to keep the players in line. If the assistants aren't handing out proper discipline, it's the head coach's job to set them straight. If you think Groh isn't doing it right, that's another matter, but it's his job, not the offensive coordinator's, to discipline the team. However........

- Last but very, very much not least, is this: I think Brandon is an appealing hire to the administration because of his recent head coaching experience. Why? Because in the not-unlikely event Al Groh is fired in the next year or two, Brandon would become an immediate short-list candidate for the job. You better believe he would. This sets him apart from, say, Ed Zaunbrecher, because Zaunbrecher hasn't been a head coach in a decade and would likely be just shoveled out the door with the rest of the regime. Gregg Brandon, on the other hand, is fresh from a head coaching job that he didn't do too badly at. Whether or not it would actually be a good idea to have Brandon as the head coach is for another post, later down the road. But Littlepage has to like the idea of hiring a security blanket as an offensive coordinator.

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