No one ever dies in college football--they just coerce a buddy into hiring them by reminding them of some particularly incriminating pictures they still have in a safe deposit box in Beaumont, Texas. ("Tijuana! '83! The one with the fake arm? REMEMBER???)
Coaching shuffles, incriminating Mexican vacation photos aside, involve retreads and n00bs, mostly hot young things snatched up from smaller programs on their way to finding their level, whether it's an unstoppable rise to NFL majordomo status all the way from Weber State (Bobby Petrino) or an ugly verification of your minor league status (Hal Mumme, New Mexico State.)
So looking around the offseason of coaching shuffles, poaches, and other HR issues you'll probably have to watch an excruciating video just to talk about legally in the company of a non-HR department person. Today, we talk about the really glam department: offensive coordinators.
Chip Kelly, Oregon.
Status: n00b (relatively speaking). A former offensive coordinator at D-1AA New Hampshire, 42 year old Chip Kelly would be on the upside of the career parabola at the point, moving up from a very successful stretch at New Hampshire. His teams there, from our extensive research on Google, "scored lots of points." More specifically, they averaged over 400 yards a game seven of the last eight years, broke all previous school records, and finished second in the nation in total offense in 2005 behind Vince Young. (Listed all by himself of course.)
Kelly's style will be--don't drop your donut in shock--"spread," which was supposedly what Gary Crowton had going on at Oregon prior to his departure for LSU. We hope his version of the spread doesn't involve yanking two quarterbacks around without rhyme or reason, since this central feature of the Oregon offense didn't work out all that well last year, excepting sweet field goal fakes.
A tantalizing peek into the possibilities of the run game, as seen here in a shotgun sweep to a wideout in motion.
Another guarantee: like many OCs, Kelly isn't afraid to let one receiver hog the ball. David Ball, UNH wide receiver, broke Jerry Rice's all-time TD record during his time in Kelly's offense.
Kelly slides into the seat formerly occupied by...
Gary Crowton, LSU.
Status: retread. Late of BYU, where he endured an ill-fated stint as the successor to Lavell Edwards, Crowton brings his spread/Norm Chow/multiform/bend like the grass, don't break like the fence/bouillabaise of an offense to Baton Rouge. If this sounds confusing, it can be, at times, both seemingly for the players on the field and for fans wondering why the highly trained team of professionals just called a screen on the two yard line, lost yards, and had to settle for a field goal.
Crowton's offense can roll at times--we don't want to sell him short, since he did have the ninth-ranked offense in the nation last year--but the impact of the freewheelin' West Coaster into the SEC may have less of an impact than one might think, even with the aura of BYU's glorious points-fits surrounding Crowton.
Jimbo Fisher's offense worked suspiciously like Crowton's at times: deliberately ambiguous, using multiple formations and forever trying to keep the defense off-balance. You'll likely see more shotgun, and definitely more passing, but aside from a diminished number of toss sweeps called, the offenses will look surprisingly similar in effect. And like Fisher's offenses, every now and then the game plan will roll out that will baffle even those meant to execute its instructions (see USC , Cal, and most bafflingly, Arizona from last year for Oregon.)
Crowton will do well enough: he's got a veteran qb in Matt Flynn, oodles of Saban Brand talent, and a head coach who'll let him do pretty much what he wants with the offense. And Crowton's called very, very successful games against SEC teams using inferior talent before--we imagine he'll be just fine cooking up recipes with the Calphalon-grade talent LSU has. Ask Alabama.
Apologies, Bama fans. Mike Dubose is at Millsaps, right? See. You feel all better now.
Major Applewhite, Alabama.
Status: n00b. But a V, VHT n00b, and as hot as they come in the Q rating. You set offensive records at Rice, and people start Twittering you with messages like "HEY JUST SITTING HERE ON PILE OF MONEY NOT SCORING POINTS LOVE NICK IN T-TOWN."
This is precisely what happened, setting up a hypothetical future tale Texas fans have to salivate over by putting Applewhite on a career track to take over the Longhorns program just as Mack Brown retires. (Don't look shocked. We can read your minds, but only because we've had the same succession fantasies re: Wuerffel, Kerwin Bell...it's really too sad to go on. Allez!)
Applewhite, like most everyone else with a resume not used to set coffee cups down on, runs a spread offense with the variety pack of formations in it. He remains a former qb, however, and loves elasticizing the field with long throws.
Given his Shulaughable offensive line at Alabama and the extremely talented John Parker Nancy McGuffin Dubois Hank Telecaster Wilson (why have three names, when you can have eight?) and the Tide's physical and fleet wide receivers, Bama could be running a chuck and duck this season. We don't mean that in a denigrating way--the best possible strategy might really be one Alabama fans would usually hold at arms length with the sturdiest of tongs: pass-wackiness.
Applewhite will likely deliver just that with ease.
Steve Logan, Boston College.
Status: retread. Like, third-world, double patched, primary color is red repair kit rubber retread. And like the sketchy tire you may have seen rolling along on a bus you were told was "luxury" creaking out of [insert ill-advised 3rd world vacation spot here], that retread turned out to be shockingly solid.
This really, we-swear-it's-flattering description of Steve Logan is an apt one. Logan ran the East Carolina program from 1992--2002, is its all-time winningest coach, and came out on the ass end of one of the most imprudent smallball coaching decisions ever when he was fired after a single down year and replaced with John Thompson, who promptly ran the program into the foul, stinking earth. Before the firing, Logan's teams dealt Miami one of its worst losses ever in the Orange Bowl, winning 31-6 in 1999, and put ECU as much on the map as it ever has been.
After taking the Galen Hall route through NFL Europe, Logan's amazing regenerative powers landed him at Boston College under first-year coach Jeff Jagonxindkxzski, whose name we cannot spell. Logan's offenses carry a bit of everything in them, including the occasional qb option and draw plays, and rely on a zone-blocking scheme. This means that until everyone gets religion with their assignments, qb Matt Ryan will take some hair-curling shots.
Fortunately, he's quite a sturdy boy.
Logan represents a very good page torn from the first year coach's handbook: hire competent veteran coaches with something to prove. We looked this up in the dictionary, and Steve Logan's face is right there, taped over Gary Barnett's.