Michigan State officially announced the hiring of Jim Bollman on Monday as co-offensive coordinator and tight ends coach. But he will not serve as the Spartans' main playcaller.
That responsibility will belong to Dave Warner, who had been the team's quarterbacks coach the past six seasons. A team spokesman confirmed that Warner will take the lead on game days.
That's part of some major shuffling of the offensive staff by Mark Dantonio. In addition to serving as co-offensive coordinator, Warner will now also handle the running backs. Brad Salem, who had overseen the Michigan State running backs the past three years, now will take over the quarterbacks. And defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi will now have the additional title of assistant head coach.
Here's what Dantonio had to say about Warner:
"Dave has been an important figure in our offense for the past six years – both the successes as well as the setbacks. There’s power in all of that information, so it’s a great advantage for him to assume the role of co-offensive coordinator as we move forward. I’ve been impressed with his organizational and time management skills. In addition, Dave has displayed the ability to make quick decisions."
Warner has been a coordinator before, at UConn from 1999-2000. Now he'll be paired with a longtime veteran in Bollman. When news of Bollman's hiring leaked last week, it didn't exactly fire up Michigan State's fan base, since he was often criticized for being too conservative as Ohio State's OC. But it's also true that Dantonio wasn't going to completely overhaul his offensive system and that he trusts Bollman.
"This is the fourth time in my career that I’ve had an opportunity to work with Jim Bollman, so there’s definitely a comfort level there," Dantonio said in the school's official release. “He has a tremendous amount of football knowledge, especially on the offensive side of the ball. In addition to serving as co-offensive coordinator, Jim will coach the tight ends, and he spent three years coaching that position in the NFL. He also has long-standing recruiting ties in Ohio. We’re excited about having Jim and his family back in the MSU community.
"Jim has been an offensive coordinator for 11 of the last 12 years. During his tenure in Columbus, Ohio State won six Big Ten championships, a national championship and played in two other BCS National Championship Games. He has performed under pressure at the highest level and on the biggest stage. With pressure comes experience, and Jim has been rock solid in those situations. He’s respected for his development as well as treatment of his players. He’s simply a ball coach.”
The Michigan State offense merely needs to be competent if the team's defense continues to play at a high level under Narduzzi, who has more than earned his assistant head coach title.
"No one has officially held that position before on my staff, but in Pat Narduzzi’s case, it’s certainly warranted," Dantonio said. "Pat is a great leader on the defensive side of the football, who has forged strong relationships with his players, and he’s also an outstanding recruiter. Over the last six years, he has helped build one of the Big Ten’s best defenses, and over the last two years, Michigan State has become one of the nation’s elite units, ranking among the NCAA’s Top 10 in rushing defense, total defense and scoring defense.
"I also appreciate his loyalty because Pat has been approached by several programs over the last few years and he’s elected to remain a Spartan. I know he doesn’t take this position lightly. When I’m not in the office, Pat takes control of the day-to-day operation. He’s held those duties for the last two years, but without the formal title."
Warner and Salem also have a lot of work to do with their new position responsibilities. Salem needs to get Andrew Maxwell on track and work with young contenders for the quarterback job in Connor Cook, Tyler O'Connor and incoming freshman Damion Terry. Warner will have to groom the replacement for Le'Veon Bell and may have to turn to some true freshmen to help get the job done there.
Last year's offense excelled only at producing squeamishness. Time will tell if these changes help rectify matters.
"We might simplify some things, yet become more diversified as an offense," said Dantonio. "Throughout the spring, things will be added and subtracted from the offense. Changes aren’t being made for the sake of change; changes are being made with a purpose. With that mindset, we can create different opportunities for our playmakers."