Wednesday, December 2, 2009

the replacements: Troy Calhoun

No better time than the present to keep on checking out potential suitors for this plum job of ours, now that it's officially open. Just for reference, below is who I've already profiled. Not all are really legitimate candidates any more, but anyway.

Mike London
Tommy Tuberville
Brian Kelly
Derek Dooley
Charlie Strong
Kevin Sumlin
Jim Grobe

Today is Troy Calhoun: current Air Force coach and outside candidate. Also, if you're in need of a rumor to feed the fire of your interest, you can now make up your own thanks to this Mad Lib provided by the folks of Lambeth Field, a brand new and highly promising blog on the scene.

I have also, by the way, updated my Official Playoff Proposal. It was required after the discovery of a really important issue that nobody seems to know about (including me until recently) and that you absolutely cannot have a playoff without taking into account.

Ok, now for Troy Calhoun.

Troy Calhoun

Main qualification: Making a service academy not suck at football.


1995-2000: Ohio ('95-'96 QB; '97-'00 OC/QB)
2001-02: Wake Forest (OC/QB)
2003-05: Denver Broncos (various ass't positions)
2006: Houston Texans (OC/QB)
2007-present: Air Force (HC)

If indeed the bosses want a coach with ACC experience, Calhoun squeaks in under the wire with those two years at Wake Forest. This is, however, one of the skinniest college resumes on the entire list of possible candidates. Calhoun has 11 years in I-A football, more than half of which don't count for much because they were in a non-head-coach position in the MAC. Nevertheless, Calhoun took over an Air Force program going stale in the waning years of the Fisher DeBerry regime, and immediately flipped it back to contender status.

How has he done this? For starters, Air Force runs a nutty offense much the same way Navy does, only even more so. Its productivity is middle-of-the-road, but keep in mind Air Force operates under the usual service academy handicaps. Calhoun is an offensive guy - just the sort that most fans are looking for right now - and has coached quarterbacks all his life, which is a bonus in my book. Would much rather have my head coach have a quarterback background than, say, running backs.

Calhoun has also popped up on radars before. Clemson was said to be looking at him, as were Washington and Tennessee. Those are some schools with Expectations. He might be a Mountain West guy and beating up on the likes of New Mexico and Colorado State, but unless he decides to be the next Fisher DeBerry, odds are he'll be at a BCS school sometime in the next three years. Might as well be ours.

Besides that, coming from the AFA and graduating from there too automatically puts a check in the box next to a couple important criteria for a UVA head coach. Character: check. Can deal with stiff academic requirements: check. If he can hack it with players who literally get confined to their rooms for skipping class, he can hack it at UVA. About the only question I'd have - and it's sort of a biggie - is recruiting. It's something he's had precious little experience with. At the AFA, zero percent of your players have NFL ambitions due to that pesky service requirement, so you can't recruit that type. At UVA you better be able to recruit that type. Calhoun's previous college experience is at Ohio and Wake Forest - he has pretty much never gone toe-to-toe with programs like Penn State for recruits.

I'd say the odds of us landing Calhoun are pretty slim. We seem less interested in him than in a couple other, more local candidates, and I'm not convinced Calhoun is 100% ready to leave. Earlier I said I thought he'd be pretty poachable, but he's now just come off the kind of season that could have been really special but for a couple wrong bounces - his losses to TCU, Navy, and Utah (three of the best teams on his schedule) were very close. Besides, he is coaching at his alma mater. Still, Calhoun ranks pretty up there on the Want List, especially now that the Want List is deprived of its top two candidates.

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