Top non-AQ assistant hires

August, 5, 2009
8/05/09
2:54
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson

A while back I looked at some of the new coaches in the league, so I thought it was time to look at some of the new assistants. Several big-time assistants were added or promoted across the five conferences this offseason and here's my top 5 new hires heading into the season.

1. Tony Franklin, Middle Tennessee, OC: Who cares if he was fired from Auburn and was the scapegoat for that team's offensive woes? In the Sun Belt, he was fantastic with Troy and he will be again at Middle Tennessee. I must say that it's a genius move to grab Franklin off the waiver wire, especially when he's just a year removed from archrival Troy. It makes for an interesting storyline and an intriguing matchup on Oct. 6.

2. Herb Hand, Tulsa, OC: Technically this counts since Gus Malzahn was the name behind Tulsa's explosive offense last season. But Hand was right there in the war room and comes to the forefront with a slew of experience and new players with which to work. Hand knows the offense inside and out and there shouldn't be a dramatic change from what Tulsa has done in past years. That's good considering Tulsa has led the country in total offense each of the past two seasons.

3. Jeff Brohm, Florida Atlantic, quarterbacks: FAU quarterback Rusty Smith burst onto the national scene after a stellar season in 2007, but couldn't live up to the hype in 2008 after injuries and nerves got the better of him. Enter Jeff Brohm, who's coached a couple of great quarterbacks at Louisville, including his brother, Green Bay Packers backup Brian Brohm. Thanks to Brohm, Smith comes into the season with confidence and better technique.

4. Al Borges, San Diego State, OC: During Borges' three seasons at Auburn, the Tigers were 33-5 and Borges earned a lot of credit for helping Auburn to a 13-0 season in 2004. This is exactly the type of coach San Diego State needs to get its stale offense on par with the offensive juggernauts that rule the Mountain West. San Diego State was second-to-last in the Mountain West in both scoring offense and total offense.

5. Rocky Long, San Diego State, DC: Two new coaches from the same school is a stretch, but not when both are innovators like Borges and Long. The last time Long and Borges were coordinators on the same team was with UCLA in 1997. That year, the Bruins went 10-2, won the Pac-10, played in the Cotton Bowl and finished fifth in the final AP poll. Long brings his high-pressure 3-3-5 defense to a team that was 113th in total defense and scoring defense. It's one of the few defensive schemes that has been successful against the offensive talent in the Mountain West.

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