Sunday, January 20, 2013

Don James - Common Thread to Championship Defense

As we enter the pre-Super Bowl media hype, we will surely hear all about the "Har-Bowl" and the connection of brothers John and Jim Harbaugh going back to their father, longtime college coach Jack Harbaugh, who is now 73 years old and three years removed from his coaching career.  But I don't want to talk about the Harbaughs, as we will undoubtedly hear plenty about them for the next two weeks.  What I want to take a closer look at is the great championship defenses we are seeing in these games and how they all link back to another old ball coach - Don James.

Don James, former Kent St. &
Washington Head Coach
Don James is 80 years old and hasn't coached since resigning as head coach at Washington in 1992.  So what in the world does he have to do with the landscape of football in 2012.  Allow me to explain:

Dean Pees is the defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens.  Taking a look at his coaching resume, the first thing most would notice is his work as defensive coordinator for the New England Patriots and add him to the long list of successful Belichick disciples.  It also shows that he spent a year as John Harbaugh's position coach at Miami of Ohio.  A closer look, however, shows his time as defensive coordinator at Michigan State (1995-97).  The head coach of those Michigan State Spartans was none other than Nick Saban, who just wrapped up his 4th national championship and is widely thought of as one of the great defensive minds in football.

A look at the other side of the Super Bowl match-up.  The San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator is Vic Fangio, who came to SF with Jim Harbaugh from Stanford.  A look at the coaching resume of Fangio shows his ties to the Ravens, where he was an assistant from 2006-09.  At first glance, that would put him into the Rex Ryan category on the coaching tree, right?  Wrong.  Take a closer look.  Fangio was also the defensive coordinator with the Carolina Panthers (1995-98) and the Houston Texans (2002-2005).  The head coach for both of those teams was Dom Capers, who most recently was the leader of the Super Bowl winning defense of the Green Bay Packers just two years ago.

At this point you're probably wondering where Don James fits in here.  Here is where it all comes together:

Nick Saban as a defensive back at Kent State.
Dom Capers began his coaching career way back in 1972 as a
graduate assistant at Kent State University under head coach Don James.  Capers spent three seasons as a GA for the Golden Flashes before heading to the University of Washington along with James, who became the Huskies head coach in 1975.  Capers wasn't the only graduate assistant on that Kent State staff, there was another.  Nick Saban was a senior defensive back at Kent State in 1972, and after his playing career stayed on as a graduate assistant through the 1974 season.

Capers and Saban have gone on to superb, successful careers, and have put together outstanding coaching trees of their own.  But as we have moved on from the dominant performance of Alabama and look ahead to Super Bowl XLVII, we can be sure of one thing:  Coach Don James, wherever he is today, is very proud of what those 22 year old graduate assistants have become and how their leadership and coaching prowess, much of which was surely sprouted from Coach James himself, has made a tremendous impact on the game of football we know and love today.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Texas RB Coach

With Bryan Harsin leaving to become the new head coach at Arkansas State, there is a new opening on staff at Texas.  Major Applewhite will take over play-calling duties and will coach QBs.  This leaves the opening for a RB coach.  There is a possibility that Bruce Chambers could move over from the tight ends, as he was the Longhorns' RB coach in the first 5 years of Mack Brown's tenure.  Here are a few intriguing names to look at to possibly fill the position:

  • Jay Boulware - Auburn Tight Ends/Special Teams Coach
    • Lettered at Texas in 1992 and '93.  Went on to become a student assistant (94-95) and a graduate assistant (95) with the Longhorns.
  • Mike Haywood - ex-Miami (Ohio) Head Coach
    • RB coach at Texas in 2003 and '04.
    • RB coach at LSU from 1995-2002.  He worked on staff with Bo Davis in 1995 and '96 and again in 2002.
  • Eric Bieniemy - Colorado Offensive Coordinator
    • RB coach for the Minnesota Vikings from 2006-10.  He spent one season on staff with Darrell Wyatt, who was the Vikings WR coach in '06.
  • Tommie Robinson - Arizona Cardinals Running Backs Coach
    • RB coach at Oklahoma State in 2001, where he worked on staff with Wyatt, who was at OSU from 2001-05.
    • Ties to TX: spent three years as an offensive assistant for the Dallas Cowboys after 4 years as WR coach at TCU.
  • Pat Washington - Kentucky Wide Receivers Coach
    • RB coach at Southern Miss from 2009-11, where he worked one year on staff with Darrell Wyatt.
    • Played QB at Auburn from 1982-85, and was a graduate assistant with the Tigers in 1987 and '88.  Stacy Searels played offensive line at AU from 1984-87.
  • Derek Dooley - ex-Tennessee Head Coach
    • Coached tight ends and running backs at LSU from 2000-04, where he worked on staff with both Stacy Searels and Bo Davis.
  • Bobby Kennedy - Colorado Wide Receivers Coach
    • WR coach at Texas from 2004-10.
    • Has spent most of his career as a WR coach, but does have 3 years of experience as a RB coach.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

LSU Defensive Backs Coach

Ron Cooper has left the LSU staff to become the new defensive backs coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Here are some possibilities for potential replacements to fill the Tiger's open position on staff:

Larry Slade - Louisville Defensive Backs Coach
  • Joined the Louisville staff in 2009, Steve Kragthorpe's last year as head coach.
  • DB coach at Tennessee from 1999-2008, where he worked on staff with John Chavis, who was the Vols' defensive coordinator.
  • DB coach at Texas A&M from 1994-98.  Steve Ensminger was the offensive coordinator at A&M from 1994-96 and Steve Kragthorpe was on the Aggies staff from 1997-2000.

Corey Raymond - Nebraska Defensive Backs Coach
  • Began his coaching career as a graduate assistant as LSU from 2006-08.
  • Played DB at LSU from 1988-91.

Lance Guidry - Western Kentucky Defensive Coordinator
  • Defensive coordinator at McNeese State from 2000-04, where he worked on staff with new LSU WR coach Adam Henry.
  • Played DB at McNeese State from 1990-93, where he played four years with Henry, who was a WR on the team.
  • Is a native of Welsh, LA.  He may be known better recently as the father of former Tennessee DB Janzen Jackson.

Mike Mallory - New Orleans Saints Assistant Defensive Backs Coach
  • DB coach at Louisville in 2007, Steve Kragthorpe's first year as head coach.
  • Mike's brother, Doug, coached DBs at LSU and Oklahoma State under Les Miles and played at Michigan, where Miles was an assistant Doug's senior season.  Another brother, Curt, played at Michigan while Miles was on the Wolverines staff.

Grady Brown - South Carolina Defensive Backs Coach
  • Worked at LSU in 2009 as an assistant strength and conditioning coach.  Brown played for and coached with Ron Cooper at Alabama A&M.  Obviously Cooper is gone now, but that's the connection that brought Brown to LSU in '07.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Ohio State Cornerbacks Coach

Bill Sheridan has left the Ohio State staff after a very short stint with the program.  He left to become the defensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Sheridan came to OSU after Taver Johnson left for a job at Arkansas in mid-January.  Here are some potential candidates to fill the opening on the Buckeyes staff:

Richard McNutt - Northern Illinois Cornerbacks Coach
  • Played at Ohio State from 1999-2002.
  • McNutt has strong Ohio ties.  In addition to playing for the Buckeyes, he has spent time coaching at Toledo, Kent State, and the Cleveland Browns. 

Paul Nichols - ex-Toledo Defensive Pass Coordinator/Safeties Coach
  • Started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Ohio State in 2004 and '05, working on the Buckeyes staff along with Luke Fickell.

Aaron Alford - Utah Director of High School Relations
  • Played DB at Colorado State from 1992-95.  Urban Meyer was the WR coach at CSU from 1990-95.
  • Began his coaching career at Kent State in 1998 and also spent three seasons ('04-06) as DB coach at Akron.   

Ronnie Lee - ex-Minnesota Defensive Coordinator
  • Was on staff at Minnesota from 2007-10.  In '07, he worked with Everett Withers, who was the Gophers defensive coordinator for one season before going to North Carolina.
  • DB coach at Colorado State from 1993-2000.  He spent three years on staff with Urban Meyer, who was the Rams WR coach.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Kentucky Wide Receivers Coach

Tee Martin has left after two years on Joker Phillips staff to become the new receivers coach at USC.  Here are some potential candidates to fill the opening on the Wildcats staff:

Pat Washington - East Carolina Wide Receivers Coach
  • WR coach at Mississippi State in 2007 and '08, where he worked on staff with David Turner, who was the team's DL coach from 2007-09.
  • WR coach at 1995-2005.  Randy Sanders was on the Vols staff from 1989-2005, including seven seasons as offensive coordinator.

Gerad Parker - Marshall Wide Receivers Coach
  • Spent the 2011 season on the Marshall staff along with new Kentucky DB coach Mike Cassity.
  • Began his college coaching career as a graduate assistant at Kentucky after playing for the Wildcats from 2001-04.

Thomas Woods - ex-Tulane Wide Receivers Coach
  • Played receiver at Tennessee from 1985-89.  Randy Sanders was a QB for the Vols from 1984-88 and stayed on as an assistant with the team starting in '89. 

Steve Bird - USF Program Assistant
  • Worked as a graduate assistant at Tennessee in 1992 after two years as a GA at Kentucky.  During his time at UK, he worked on staff with Joker Phillips and he worked with Randy Sanders durin his year at Tennessee.

Pitt Running Backs Coach

Eddie Faulkner has left the Pitt coaching staff after a brief stint to take a position at Wisconsin.  Here are some potential candidates to fill the opening on the Panthers staff:

Wayne Moses - ex-UCLA Running Backs Coach
  • Spent the 2011 season on staff at UCLA with new Pitt DL coach Inoke Breckterfield.
  • RB coach at Pitt in 2004.

Cornell Jackson - Purdue Running Backs Coach
  • RB coach at New Mexico from 2004-06.  Bob Bostad was the OL coach at New Mexico from 1999-2005. 

Gerald Carr - Virginia Destroyers (UFL) Running Backs Coach
  • Offensive coordinator at Buffalo from 2006-09, where he spent two seasons on staff with new Pitt DB coach Matt House.

Ken Browning - ex-North Carolina Running Backs Coach
  • Was part of the North Carolina staff from 1994-2011.  Dave Huxtable was the defensive coordinator at UNC from 2001-03.  

Steve Logan - ex-Tampa Bay Buccaneers Running Backs Coach
  • Was on staff at East Carolina from 1989-2002, including 11 seasons as head coach.  Dave Huxtable was the DL coach at ECU in 1998 and '99 and coached the team's linebackers and special teams in 1990 and '91. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Air Force Running Backs Coach

Des Kitchings has left the Air Force staff after one season to become the new running backs coach at NC State.  Here are some potential candidates to fill the opening on the Falcon's coaching staff:

Gerald Carr - Virginia Destroyers (UFL) Running Backs Coach
  • QB coach at Indiana in 2001, where he worked on staff with Ron Burton.
  • QB coach at North Carolina from 1992-94.  Burton was a graduate assistant for the Tar Heels in 1992 and '93.
  • RB Coaching Experience: 
    • Davidson, 1983-85
    • Kentucky, 2002
    • Baylor, 2003-05

Chris Barclay - Wake Forest Graduate Assistant
  • Has worked on the Wake Forest staff the past two seasons.  He could reunite with Steve Russ, who just came to Air Force after four years at WF.
  • Played RB at Wake Forest from 2002-05.  Brad White played LB at Wake from 2001-03 and Matt Weikert was a graduate assistant from 2002-04.
  • RB Coaching Experience:
    • New York Sentinels (UFL), 2009

Greg Forest - Buffalo State Offensive Coordinator
  • WR coach at Grand Valley State from 1993-2003.  He spent one season on staff with Ron Burton, who coached the DL at GVSU in 2002.
  • RB Coaching Experience:
    • Central Michigan, 2004-06