Wednesday, July 22, 2009
More coordinated? Reviewing coordinator changes
By ESPN.com staff
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Coordinators often impact a team as much as a head coach.
Five Pac-10 teams changed one or both coordinators during the offseason for various reasons.
Here's a rundown:
- Out: Frank Cignetti. Returned home to become Pittsburgh's OC after one year with the Bears.
- In: Andy Ludwig. Ludwig, who had just been hired away from Utah in December to be Kansas State's offensive coordinator, had previously followed Jeff Tedford as OC at Fresno State and Oregon.
- Skinny: Considering the Bears struggled to pass the football in 2008, losing Cignetti isn't that hard of a hit. Ludwig had an uneven ride at Oregon when Mike Bellotti wanted to reinvent the Ducks' offense, but he's respected among his peers and Utah did OK during his tenure, right?
- Out: Chip Kelly. Kelly just moved over into the corner office and became the head coach. He'll still call plays this season.
- In: Mark Helfrich. Helfrich, a Medford, Ore., native hired away from Colorado, learned the passing game from former Arizona State coach Dirk Koetter.
- Skinny: It will be interesting to see how this goes. Kelly is very hands on and, make no mistake, this is his offense. But Helfrich, 35, escaped a tough situation at Colorado and now can learn a spread offense from one of its maestros. Also, say what you want about his Tempe tenure, Koetter could really run a passing game, so Helfrich figures to contribute ideas.
- Out: DeWayne Walker. Walker, one of the best defensive coordinators in the Pac-10, not to mention an ace recruiter, was hired to right the perennially flagging New Mexico State program.
- In: Chuck Bullough. Bullough was promoted from linebackers coach, which should bring a high level of continuity.
- Skinny: Bullough, a former two-time All-Big Ten linebacker at Michigan State, will bring more fire than the laconic, cerebral Walker (though Walker always struck me as super-intense). Also, defensive bloodlines don't get much better than Bullough's. His father, Henry, an NFL defensive coordinator for 23 years, was called the "Doctor of Defense."
- Out: Steve Sarkisian. Sarkisian was hired as Washington's head coach.
- In: John Morton/Jeremy Bates. Morton was promoted from receivers coach to offensive coordinator. Bates, a former quarterbacks coach for the Denver Broncos, was hired as assistant head coach for offense and will call plays.
- Skinny: There's a lot to work with at USC, so the expectations are extremely high for any coordinator. A fair percentage of USC fans weren't particularly happy with Sarkisian, who will call plays this fall for the Huskies. Morton ensures continuity, while Bates brings new ideas. And, of course, Pete Carroll figures to have his say, too.
- Out: Nick Holt. Holt was hired away from USC by Sarkisian to run Washington's defense.
- In: Rocky Seto. Seto was promoted from secondary coach.
- Skinny: Carroll calls the defensive plays, so this is his defense. But Seto has been with him since he arrived at USC and has always been a Carroll favorite. In terms of personality, the boisterous Holt is very different from the mellow, spiritual Seto.
- Out: Tim Lappano/Jim Michalczik. The affable Lappano landed on his feet as the Detroit Lions' tight ends coach.
- In: Doug Nussmeier. He was hired away from Fresno State as quarterbacks coach but was promoted to coordinator when Michalczik bolted for the Oakland Raiders.
- Skinny: Sarkisian is running the show, but Nussmeier will play a big role in helping quarterback Jake Locker transition from a spread-option to a pro-style scheme. Losing Michalczik, who did a fantastic job coaching California's offensive line under Tedford, was a blow.
- Out: Ed Donatell. He coached the Huskies one year, and injuries and a lack of talent likely made it one of his worst in coaching. Now the Broncos' secondary coach.
- In: Nick Holt. Holt was lured away from USC by Sarkisian with the promise the Huskies' D would be entirely his. And the big paycheck didn't hurt.
- Skinny: Holt has an opportunity to earn his bona fides after working in Carroll's shadow. He doesn't have a lot to work with now, but if he and Sark recruit like crazy and build a dominant defense, like the Huskies had in days of yore, then he'll get his own head coaching gig.