SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
11/27/2006 06:35:00 PM
A Ride Around the Coaching Carousel
Mark Dantonio, who had an 18-17 record at Cincinnati, signed a five-year deal with Michigan State that will guarantee him nearly $1.1 million a year.
So many coaching changes, so little time. Where to begin?
∙ Arizona State: While the timing was a little awkward, coming less than 24 hours after a bowl-clinching win over rival Arizona, Dirk Koetter’s fate was sealed the day he abruptly reversed course with his quarterback decision last August. At that point, you knew either Rudy Carpenter was going to have to light the world on fire or Koetter was going to be crucified, because it was just one of several examples over the years of questionable leadership on his part. Koetter consistently led his teams to bowl games, but in six years he failed to even sniff the top of the Pac-10, going 0-10 against USC and Cal and never losing less than three conference games in a season.
AD Lisa Love has an already proven to be a savvy executive willing to make a splash, like she did when she hired away NC State basketball coach Herb Sendek last spring. (Not to mention she cut Koetter loose with three years and nearly $3 million left on his contract). Local buzz centers around former Arizona Cardinals head coach Dave McGinnis, now the Tennessee Titans’ defensive coordinator. Love should also take a hard look at that team’s other coordinator -- one Norm Chow.
∙ N.C. State: No one had more passion and enthusiasm for N.C. State football than Chuck Amato. It’s largely because of him that the Wolfpack moved into the 21st century in terms of their recruiting and facilities. But passion and enthusiasm can’t help you when you go 3-9, ending your season with losses to both North Carolina and East Carolina. I believe if Amato had even come close to going .500 and won a couple more ACC games, he would still have his job, but a season-ending seven-game losing streak -- on top of two fairly disappointing seasons before that -- was simply too much for AD Lee Fowler to bear. Amato lasted seven seasons, and while his tenure got off to a bang with Phillip Rivers, there hadn’t been much cause for excitement of late.
N.C. State is another logical destination for Chow, considering he worked there under Amato back in 2000, but who knows whether he’ll receive consideration. The local dream is that Bill Cowher will come home, but I don’t see how that can work from a timing perspective, considering the school would have to waste a month or more waiting for the Steelers’ season to end just to find out whether Cowher is actually retiring. I would expect N.C. State to go after someone with an offensive mind (the opposite of Amato’s defensive approach), and whoever it hires needs to be a shrewd recruiter, because he’s going to be facing off head-to-head with UNC’s Butch Davis.
∙ Michigan State: Much like its football team, MSU has a history of choking when it comes to its coaching searches, so I was pleasantly surprised they wound up hiring the best guy for the job, Cincinnati’s Mark Dantonio. Dantonio has done a phenomenal job turning the Bearcats into a competitive Big East program in a short amount of time. He has Big Ten experience as an assistant both at MSU and as the defensive coordinator for Jim Tressel’s 2002 Ohio State national title team.
In fact it’s that defensive mentality that I think will help turn the Spartans into a contender relatively quickly. The main reason the Big Ten has retreated back into being the Big Two following nearly a decade of parity is that only four teams -- Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Penn State –- play any defense. If Dantonio can produce a top-flight defense capable of shutting down the high-powered offenses that populate the conference, he could produce a run much like Iowa did earlier this decade.
∙ Iowa State: Give Iowa State AD Jamie Pollard tons of credit –- not only did he pull off the most secretive coaching search I can ever remember (the school announced it had landed its "No. 1 choice" Sunday afternoon, yet as of Sunday night the media had yet to figure out who it was) but he landed one of the hottest names on the market, Texas co-defensive coordinator Gene Chizik.
To be honest, I’m surprised this is where Chizik landed -- I always assumed it would be somewhere a little more prestigious. Either Pollard made a heck of a pitch, or Chizik views Iowa State as a sleeping giant. The dynamic 44-year-old has been a head-coach-in-grooming the past few years working under Tommy Tuberville and Mack Brown who, even as an assistant, had sort of a Bob Stoops/Urban Meyer-type aura to him. It’s unlikely he’ll be able to achieve those guys’ level of success in Ames, but I have no doubt he’ll significantly raise Iowa State’s profile.
∙ Cincinnati: Dantonio's depature is a huge blow to the Bearcats’ program, which was just starting to turn the corner and was banking on gaining some serious traction from that Rutgers upset. AD Mike Thomas will move quickly to ensure the uncertainty doesn’t last long. Thomas came from Akron, where he hired J.D. Brookhart, who last year led the Zips to a surprising MAC title. Don’t be surprised if Thomas and Brookhart reunite. Another possibility is Central Michigan coach Brian Kelly, who was up for both the Michigan State and Iowa State jobs.
regarding: "To be honest, I’m surprised this is where Chizik landed -- I always assumed it would be somewhere a little more prestigious."
It may also be possible that Chizik no longer had the cachet to compete for a job such as Alabama or Miami after suffering through an '06 season in which his Texas defense allowed more passing yards than any team in the Longhorns' history.
Any time lost while waiting for Cowher to decide would easily be made up in enthusiasm if he does sign on. Cowher is the one guy that EVERYONE in the NC State universe can agree on and would raise the program's profile five-fold. The bigger problem is waiting only to find out he's not interested, and then there's $$$. Oh, to be a fly on the wall at the Wolfpack Club these days...
Stewart, I'd like to let you know that Iowa State is in the Big XII conference, just in case you hadn't heard. This is the same conference that's produced national championship teams by the name of Texas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska. Now, I'm not saying anything as far as National Championships, because that'd be getting a ridiculous amount ahead of myself, but I would definitely say that Gene Chizik will lead Iowa State into Big XII title contention. Hopefully, he will do this on a consistent basis. Also, who said there's anything wrong with Ames?!
I think Chizik saw the deteriation of Colorado and Nebraska and said why not? Dantonio was an excellent hire. He will bring a measure of toughness and accountability back to Michigan State. The things being said about Alabama are things that used to be said about USC, Notre Dame, and Oklahoma pre-Carroll, pre-Weis, pre-Stoops. Funny, how hiring the right guy at one of the traditional powers turns that problem around in a hurry. Mal Moore here is a hint: give Bobby Petrino whatever it will take. Is there a more done deal than Greg Schiano to Miami? Where do USC's young co-Offensive Coordinators land? Wouldn't Sarkisian be a revelation at NC State and Lane Kiffin at Arizona State?
coming from an ISU alumni and diehard Cyclone football fan for life...It's possible that Chizik decided that a good place to start his head coaching career in Division I would be Iowa State, a program that Dan McCarney help get to a level few had ever achieved there before. After a couple years of getting his feet wet in Ames, if he takes us to a Big 12 championship game, then I say he's acheived a lot and it could set him up nicely for future lucrative jobs that may open that are worth going into (not like this year's trap schools for getting fired - Miami and Alabama). I for one figured ISU to get a second-rate coach that would drive the program right back into the Troy Davis days...now, I have hope for the Cyclones in the Big 12. Go Clones!!!
I think Chizik is over-rated. Texas' defense collapsed in the last two games and he was never able to make it as dominant as the one in Auburn's undefeated season. Auburn's defensive success was probably due to Chizik + the other coaches.
MSU just got a great coach in Dantonio. Being a resident of Cincinnati, I am sad to see him leave. First, we lost Thad Matta (former Xavier coach) to the Big 11, now we've lost another top notch coach. We in the Nati need to do something to keep these good coaches. i hope AD Thomas has someone good in mind for Dantonio's replacement. The Bearcats are on the cusp of doing some great things in the Big East; i just hope we can keep the momentum.
The media and you people need to give it a rest, rich rod isn't going anywhere, bobboy patreno isn't going anywhere and greg Schiano isn't going anywhere, they are in a good conference with good teams that can and will win the national championship soon, not to mention they all have built houses in the area where they are and all 3 of them are in their old stomping grounds...give it up. Interesting the big east is a bad conference, but everyoneeeee wants their coaches..lmao
Stewart, you're always good for a slap to the Big XII Conference. Okay, we're in a bit of a down year this season but there's still plenty of talent and decent coaching. ISU had some talent esp at the skill positions but for reason it didn't translate into wins.
Chizik can do a lot with ISU. The North division is weak and ISU can compete with Nebraska and K-State, along with a revibrant Mizzou, with a retooled defense by Chizik. Can he get the playmakers to enroll at Ames? That is the key question but if I were a HS player around those parts I would check into the school.
Hopefully though the Big XII will rework the alignments, to East-West, and make it more competitive that it is now.
As a big time Bama fan in Boston I admittedly watched from a distance, but from my perspective Mike Schula was not the"A" type personality needed t give Bama the leadership and edge it needed in the tough S.E.C. At times his body language and facial expressions gave an image of confusion and bewilderment. Maybe he is too nice a guy. Football needs a bit of nastiness at the top,especially with the expectations at Alabama. Also it seems Bama's offense became a bit bland. So,here's hoping Bama hires some one with a bit of a "growl", sorta like a BEAR! Roll Tide Roll! Its about time!