Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Out with the Old, In with the Bold?

Plan on plenty of Captain Ron movie references this summer

Looks like the dance known as the Michigan Football Coaching Shuffle has pretty much come to an end today with the announcement today of Steve Szabo as LB coach and Ron Lee as CB coach. I've held my comments for a while now as I waited for things to shake out following a horrific 7-5 season. All I can say is kudos to Lloyd Carr for having the balls to make a major overhaul to his coaching staff when the team needed it the most.

In case you alseep at the wheel (or just simply a sane person), you may have missed the up and downs of the Michigan internet world as people twisted in the wind as coaching changes didn't happen the day after signing day (OMG!), then Malone and English both took NFL jobs, then Jim Hermann appeared to be staying, then Mike DeBord got the OC job (double OMG!), then Ron English returned (Hallelujah!), then Jim Hermann got an NFL job (double Hallelujah!). It's been a crazy ride for those people with too short of an attention span to sit back and let it all play out.

But anyways, this is by far the most turnover Michigan has had in their coaching staff in a LONG time. Is that a good thing? Let's look at each individual move.

Defensive coordinator: Ron English replaces Jim Hermann. Hermann was the 1997 national assistant coach of the year and consistently had pretty good defenses, but his D collapsed down the stretch of way too many games the last few years including repeated 4th quarter comebacks by opponents this year. English is promising a more agressive scheme that certainly sounds nice. Then again this is his first ever gig beyond a position coach so we shall have to wait and see how he delivers on that promise.

Offensive coordinator: Mike DeBord replaces Terry Malone. I used to be quite the Terry Malone fan. He implemented a varied offense that could beat you on the ground and in the air and was usually dynamite on 3rd down. But as his tenure went along, his offenses gradually seemd to lose any identity. Sure, they COULD beat you running or throwing the ball, but they could also totally go into a shell for long periods of time with nothing to fall back on when the going got tough. Mike DeBord? He's sort of an ignominious figure in Wolverine football. He was the OC from 1997-1999 when Michigan racked up a 32-5 record and perhaps our most dominant stretch of football in decades. Then again, our D was dynamite back then and DeBord took a lot of flack for being too conservative on offense. But he knew what the offense needed to do and they did it. He now knows he needs to put points on the board and that requires a different strategy. He can certainly talk the talk, but again we will have to wait and see how muching of the walking he can do.

Linebacker coach: Steve Szabo replaces Jim Hermann. Hermann is off to the NFL to coach LBs for the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets in a move that has most Michigan fans scratching their heads. Szabo has a long resume most recently coaching DBs for the Buffalo Bills and a long stint as LB coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars. He's also a former Ohio State assistant which will probably get plenty of mention between now and November. He's certainly got the pedigree to be an upgrade over Hermann and his experience on the staff can't hurt with such a young DC.

Cornerbacks coach: Ron Lee is taking over CBs while Ron English is still going to coach the safeties. I really don't know what to make of this move. Lee has been at Wisconsin in the same capacity the past 3 years and they haven't had the most talent to work with in this area.

QB coach: Scott Loefler is not being replaced by anybody. He's certainly the hottest young coach on the staff and the fact that he turned down the NFL again is certainly very promising. Recruits and QBs both love him and considering Michigan is going after the biggest QB fish in the land again this year it is good to have him still on board.

All in all, I'm pretty happy with how things ended up. Carr did a good job of getting some new blood into the staff and shaking things up enough to keep people on their toes. Hopefully the end result on the field this year is similar to the last time we changed both coordinators in the same offseason.


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