Big Ten: Dana Holgorsen

Tom Bradley, a longtime assistant under Joe Paterno at Penn State, has agreed to join the staff at West Virginia, the school said Friday.

"I'm excited to be back to coaching again, to be again be part of something that is bigger than myself," Bradley said in a phone interview with ESPN.com.

Bradley, 57, will be the Mountaineers' senior associate head coach.

"Tom brings numerous years of successful college coaching experience and versatility," coach Dana Holgorsen said in a statement. "He is an excellent defensive teacher, has high energy and intensity and gives us a proven recruiter with regional and national ties."

Bradley coached for 33 years under Paterno at Penn State after graduating there in 1979.
After coaching various positions, he eventually replaced Jerry Sandusky as defensive coordinator in 2000. When Sandusky was charged with sexually abusing children, Bradley took over for Paterno as interim head coach in Penn State's last four games in 2011.

He resigned from the school after the season, and has spent the last three years as a football analyst, most recently covering Army football games.

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Big Ten bloggers Adam Rittenberg and Brian Bennett will occasionally give their takes on a burning question facing the league. We'll both have strong opinions, but not necessarily the same view. We'll let you decide which blogger is right.

Today's Take Two topic is inspired by Justin from Baltimore, who writes: Would you rather lose assistant coaches or star players? If you are Wisconsin, would you rather lose five assistant coaches and have Montee Ball return for his senior season or would rather have kept the staff intact and seen Ball go to the NFL? If you are MSU, would you rather lose Jerel Worthy to the NFL and keep Pat Narduzzi as defensive coordinator or would you rather have seen Worthy stay for his senior season but lose Narduzzi to Texas A&M?

Take 1: Brian Bennett

As a general rule, I'd rather have the Jimmys and the Joes rather than the guys doing the X's and the O's. For example, Oklahoma State lost a star offensive coordinator last year when Dana Holgorsen went to West Virginia (you know, the guy who rang up 70 points on Clemson in the Orange Bowl). What did the Cowboys do? They hired Todd Monken from the NFL and went on to win the Fiesta Bowl, mostly because they still had Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon. Great players make coaches look good. I think the situation may be a little different with Wisconsin, which is losing a whole lot on the offensive staff and a tremendous playcaller in Paul Chryst. There is almost certainly going to be an adjustment period there. Having Ball will ease that transition, though maybe not as much as having Russell Wilson at quarterback another year would have helped. While I really like Narduzzi and think he is ready to be a head coach, I think another defensive coordinator could step in and succeed with that talented Spartans group, especially if Worthy were still around. There are a lot of good coaches out there who haven't had the chance to work with great players. That's because great players are harder to find.

Take 2: Adam Rittenberg

Some excellent points, BB. I definitely agree that the players often make the coaches. But in Michigan State's case, I actually think it was more important to retain Narduzzi than Worthy. Although he likely will soon depart for a head-coaching job, Michigan State showed by retaining him that it's willing to pay top dollar and retain a top assistant coach. Ohio State is paying more for assistant coaches. Michigan is paying more for assistant coaches. Michigan State needs to keep up and, in my mind, passed an important test by retaining Narduzzi. The Spartans also have recruited extremely well on the defensive side and should have enough depth to survive the loss of Worthy. The difference between Narduzzi and Chryst was Chryst left for a head-coaching position, while Narduzzi would have made essentially a lateral move for more money. So I think Michigan State had the better situation in the end. Regarding Wisconsin, while it's never easy to replace so many assistants, especially guys like Chryst and offensive line coach Bob Bostad, you don't often get to have a Heisman Trophy finalist back in the fold. Wilson was gone no matter what, and the offensive line would have had some turnover no matter what, but losing Ball could have really set back the unit with the quarterback situation so cloudy. Although Chryst and the others do great work, Wisconsin is so entrenched in what it does offensively and how it develops certainly position groups, namely offensive line. Bret Bielema has made good assistant coach hires in the past, and Wisconsin fans need to have some faith his track record will continue this time.
Indiana and Arizona essentially swapped offensive coordinators in recent weeks. Rod Smith, the Hoosiers' co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach left IU to rejoin new Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez in Tucson. Hoosiers coach Kevin Wilson replaced Smith with Seth Littrell, who spent the 2011 season as Arizona's offensive coordinator but was let go following Mike Stoops' firing. Littrell did his part with the Wildcats' offense, which ranked 16th nationally in yards per game (465.3 ypg) and third in passing (370.8 ypg) this season. Before joining Arizona's staff in 2009, Littrell spent four seasons coaching running backs at Texas Tech.

The former Oklahoma running back, who won a national title in 2000, will serve as Indiana's sole offensive coordinator.

I recently caught up with Littrell, who arrived in Bloomington on New Year's Day, to get his thoughts on joining the Hoosiers' staff.

Why Indiana? Why did this make the most sense for you?

Seth Littrell: I've known Coach Wilson for a long time, and we've been talking back and forth for a while. We've always had somewhat of a relationship. I knew the unbelievable offenses he had at Oklahoma, and I thought it was a good opportunity for me to go into a great new conference and a prestigious school in Indiana, where they're doing great things right now. You look at the basketball program up and going again, and then with Coach Wilson here in his second year, I thought it was a good opportunity to be able to help him turn this and get back to competing and winning. Plus, it's a chance for me to be under a great offensive coach who can teach me some things.

You were working under a defensive coach at Arizona. How will that change for you now, working for a guy who had success on the offensive side?

SL: It'll be unbelievable. I've been very fortunate to work with a lot of people, [Mark] Mangino and Mike Leach and Mike Stoops, and playing under Bob Stoops. I've had a great opportunity to work for offensive and defensive guys. The biggest thing I always look for is relationships and guys you feel comfortable around. It's a great environment, people are pulling in the same direction. And the more I talked with Coach Wilson over the phone, I felt very comfortable with him.

How would you describe your offensive philosophy?

SL: I played under Mike Leach at Oklahoma in 1999, so a lot of it comes from that "Air Raid" background. But the biggest thing in coaching is you have to adjust. We've had to adjust. Sonny Dykes had to adjust when he first came to Arizona, and then I came in and we had Rob Gronkowski, so we used a little bit more tight end, play-action underneath. And then last year, we didn't have as many tight ends, so we were more spread. You have to be a teacher and you have to understand what your strengths and weaknesses are as an offense and each individual player, and hopefully build something great around them. People look at me, coming from a huge passing background, but you look at Dana Holgorsen, who's one of my best friends at West Virginia. He's tweaked it his way, I've kind of tweaked it my way. And the tweaks you see are based upon what we have as personnel, but at the same time getting those guys in the best situations to compete.

Have you had a chance to look at the personnel you'll be inheriting at Indiana?

SL: Obviously, I've looked at some film, just when I came down on an interview. And as I've come back, I have had some time to watch some games here and there. And I'm extremely excited. They played a lot players last year. Shoot, Tre [Roberson] started the last five games [at quarterback] as a true freshman. He definitely has some strengths. I'm excited about him, I'm excited about the offense in general. There's players here you can compete and win with.

As you go out recruiting the next few weeks, what are some of the things you're going to be looking for?

SL: The first thing you look at is character and determination to win. You want to get great people to surround this program, which is nothing new. Coach Wilson has been doing that since he got here. You look for people who want to come out and compete, and who want to be at Indiana. You can recruit all kinds of kids, but do they really want to be at Indiana? Do they really want to play in the Big Ten? Those are qualities you look for, and then you recruit from there. Obviously, we have different needs. We have a few more needs we need to fill up. But as a philosophy, the biggest thing you want to find are great athletes who have a will to compete and a will to win.

Kevin Johns has been there as a co-coordinator. How is that going to work with him, as far as play-calling and so forth?

SL: We've sat down and talked, but the last week has been so fast. We have met, he's a great guy, the staff on offense is unbelievable. We've all talked, and I'm really excited about those guys. They're unbelievable coaches. This isn't about me. This is about this program. This is about an offensive staff coming together and working together. It's not about one guy saying, 'Here, this is what we're going to do.' That's never how it's been with me. We have an offensive staff, we sit down, we talk, we put all our heads together and we figure out the best way to help us be successful and win. That's what it comes down to. It's a team thing.

There's been more spread in the Big Ten the last 10 years. How do you think the offense works in the league? Are there different challenges in the Big Ten versus the Pac-12 or the Big 12?

SL: I couldn't give a fair assessment on that because I've never been in this league. I haven't studied it a ton. Now we did play Iowa [in 2009 and 2010] while I was at Arizona, and they had some unbelievable defenses. They were big, strong, physical guys, and they were really good up front and really sound across the board. We have to sit down and watch and discuss as a staff, and we'll figure out the best thing for us to do offensively.

How big of a challenge is this?

SL: Everywhere is a challenge in college football. It's hard to win games. Each week, you can never take it for granted, because you step on the field, wins aren't easy. I don't care where you're at. You can be at Oklahoma, or you can be at a I-AA [program], they're all hard. The biggest thing you have to do is prepare yourself mentally and physically each and every week. And you've got to enjoy it. You've got to have fun in the process. Those are the people who are going to be successful.

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