Wednesday, December 2, 2015

not with a bang

Frank Beamer played it how Frank Beamer always plays it.  One of his players hit a referee - short of committing an actual prosecutable crime, basically the single most felonious thing you can do on a football field - and that player was suspended for a half.  Because it was "unintentional."  This is sort of like when your kicker breaks into someone's house to steal back his weed and that becomes "trespassing."

And Mike London played it how Mike London always plays it.  Two timeouts burned during his final game because his team couldn't figure out how to substitute.  Three false start penalties and one dingus lined up on offense straddling the neutral zone, which latter penalty you could see coming a mile away.  And a quarterback who's been so well developed and coached that his first choice in the two-minute drill (one minute, actually) is to chuck the ball deep down the middle to a quadruple-covered tight end.  Great play design, incidentally.

Thus did the head coaching careers of two coaches end - the only way either coach knew how.  Mike London's last game could only have been more of a microcosm of his career if he had taken his last timeout to ice Joey Slye on his game-winning kick.  That would've been absolutely precious.  Otherwise it checks all the boxes.  Red zone ineptitude, poor discipline, getting outcoached at halftime, headscratchingly bad QB decisions, and just because Steve Fairchild absolutely had to get in on the be-who-you-are action, lots of third-and-long screen passes.  One of them finally worked, and I imagine that was the instant Fairchild at long last felt at peace with his not-too-illustrious tenure in Charlottesville.

Any further flowery eulogizing of the Mike London era would be literary onanism.  It's not an era much worth remembering.  It wasn't just losing football, it was bad football.  It was aimless, unplanned, unencumbered by identity.  Everything good that can be said about it, is said about the off-field aspects of running a program.  This is like house-hunting and being shown a dilapidated terrible old house with a palatial, immaculate basement.  The other way round isn't desirable either, and at least you've got a nice foundation, and foundation matters, but the world remembers the face you show it.


I'm not going to exhaustively cover the coaching search, but how about a quick tiny blurb on some of the possible candidates?  First impressions, call them, and almost nothing at all to do with probability of landing them.

Mike Bloomgren: One of several under-experienced offensive coordinators on the list, and the least connected in this area of the country.

Jeff Brohm: Impressive offense at WKU, which won their bowl game last year by coming back from a 49-14 deficit.  Experience playing and teaching quarterback a plus.  Would need a very strong DC hire.  Risk to jump ship to Louisville should anything happen to Bobby Petrino, but one of the top fallback options.

Mack Brown: The fanbase is harshly divided on whether this would be a good idea or not; count me in the Yes camp.  A Hall of Fame coach with a national championship ring and extensive coaching tree is not a guy you turn your nose up at.  His age isn't a major issue; if successful here, he could coach 6-8 years and put the program on the right track.  This is an attractive enough job to draw Brown's eye as well as other high-profile names like Mark Richt and Dan Mullen - imagine what it could do with a winning record and full stadium?  Brown would likely provide that.

Troy Calhoun: In the past he's had the reputation of being tough to pry out of the AFA.  His record at a very tough place to win is impressive, as is the accountability he demands - a very welcome departure from London for sure.  And he's got a very good mind for offense.  On the down side, there are very real reasons to be wary of Ken Niumatalolo, and Calhoun has had a tough time beating him.  Calhoun's offense, while more multi-dimensional than Navy's, only relies slightly less exclusively on the run.

Al Golden: Similar to London in that his Miami teams lacked identity.  Far more talented of a coach, obviously.  High-floor, low-ceiling hire.

Pep Hamilton: Star fell a bit after being fired as Colts OC, but was a hot wish-list name for a lot of vacancies for a while.  Seems to prefer the NFL, however, and has never been a head coach.

Dan Mullen: Was winning at Mississippi State before Dak Prescott, so concerns that he's a one-trick pony are unfounded.  Mullen was the favorite choice of the knowledgeable wing of the Michigan fanbase before it was clear Jim Harbaugh was a real thing, and a concerted effort could reel him in.  The top home-run choice now that Mark Richt is more or less off the board.

Ken Niumatalolo: Has done well at Navy, but Paul Johnson is already in the division; trying to beat the master with the student isn't a very likely proposition.  Army has been trying to beat Navy at their own game for a while now and it's not working.

Matt Rhule: Interesting career path; while at Temple, he switched from being DL coach to QB coach, then became OC a year later.  He's certainly taken a difficult situation to tremendous heights this year, but I think, more than any other current HC we could look at (even Brohm), we'd be taking a risk that he's not a flash in the pan.  Temple's defense, not their offense, is leading them to the top.

Mark Richt: The very best choice for the job, tempered only by the fact that he's pretty much turned it down.

Lincoln Riley: Has exactly one year of experience at a Power 5 school; Oklahoma's offense has improved between last year and this year, but it's too soon to tell how much of that is Riley's doing.  And ECU's offense was decent but far from explosive during his time there.  Too thin of a resume to be anything but a colossal leap of faith.

Mike Sanford: See Riley, Lincoln.

Greg Schiano: Reputation as an asshole will precede him wherever he goes.  A Sports Illustrated article painted the picture of a reformed coach hoping for a second chance, and he'll need a fresh start somewhere in order to lose said reputation.  In Schiano you'd certainly see the discipline lacking under London; if the reform job works, Schiano has potential to be the architect of a major turnaround, but you're taking a risk that leopards do change spots.

Matt Wells: Solid record at Utah State for two years - not so much this year.  Raises questions about whether he's been riding coattails.  Also has zilch connections on the East Coast.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I really thought it would work with London. But he's living proof that the Tony Bennett experince is not writ in the heavens; remember after that Tennessee basketball loss how low the program felt, and yeah, it could have gone either way. I'm not sure what the equivalent moment was with London, but when 2011 unspooled, when we beat GT at home, when we beat Miami in Scott Stadium, it felt like the promise was paying off. But it didn't. It might have in a different playing out of the same givens, but it didn't. So it's sad.

But I won't miss his hysterics on the sideline. That was not good.

So Bronco Mendenhall now, and all the support shown on Twitter, all the good vibes, all the potentional with the reset. Yay.

Sorry for the hesitency, but it just feels like the same as London albeit version 2.0. Which isn't bad, I hope it works, I hope it goes the Bennett route, but it doesn't feel like something different...and probably it shouldn', because there was nothing objectively wrong with the London hire, I just hope a good opportunity for everyone actually works out well this time.

And I hope I spelled all the names right so far. No promises, I'm not looking them up.