Wednesday, July 28, 2010

ECU Defensive Ends/Special Teams Coach

Mark Nelson has resigned as defensive ends and special teams coach at East Carolina after his involvement in NCAA violations. With camp starting in a matter of days, it may be too late to find someone elsewhere, and new head coach Ruffin McNeill would likely promote from within the ECU program. The coaching tree has come up with three potential replacements:

Cary Godette returned to his alma mater in 2010 as the Pirates' new director of football administration. Godette was a senior defensive lineman at ECU in 1976, which happened to be Ruffin McNeill's freshman year with the team. Last season, he coached the defensive line at Florida International. Godette has a wealth of experience, having spent time coaching at multiple colleges and also in the NFL, spending most of his years as a DL coach. This would be a perfect fit if Godette is looking to return to an on the field role. He has no experience with special teams, so if hired to coach defensive ends, expect RB coach Clay McGuire or LB coach John Wiley to take over the special teams unit.

Jimmy Lindsey was hired by his alma mater, Tennessee-Chattanooga, during the off-season to coach their defensive line and special teams. He has also coached at Tennessee-Martin, Miami (Ohio), and Gardner-Webb in addition to an earlier stint at Chattanooga. After his playing career, he joined the UT-C coaching staff as a graduate assistant, where he worked with current ECU assistant Donnie Kirkpatrick, who was the head coach for the Mocs from 2000-2002 after two years as the teams offensive coordinator. This job would certainly be a step up the coaching ladder for Lindsey, and would be a good fit for the Pirates with his experience coaching both defensive line and special teams.

Kirk Doll

Kirk Doll, another ECU alum, is currently the LB coach for the new UFL franchise, the Omaha Nighthawks. Doll was interviewed for the head coaching position at East Carolina in 2002, a job which ultimately was given to John Thompson, who only lasted two seasons at the helm. Doll has never coached defensive line, but was a defensive lineman for the Pirates in the early 70s. If Doll were to be hired, it would likely be as strictly a special teams coach, giving defensive tackles coach Marc Yellock control of the entire defensive line. It seems unlikely for a coach who was turned down for a head coaching job to later come in as an assistant, but he is currently a position coach in the UFL (not sure how that is looked at in comparison to a college job) and may be willing to return to his alma mater in a lesser role.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Tennessee Titans Running Backs Coach

With Kennedy Pola leaving for USC, the Titans are in need of a new RB coach. With training camp starting in a week, it is likely that Jeff Fisher will promote from within. In addition to coaches currently on staff that may have a chance at the job (Marty Galbraith, Dowell Loggains), the coaching tree has come up with three potential replacements:

Charles London

Charles London spent the 2009 season as an offensive quality control assistant with the Bears. Prior to joining the Bears in 2007, London was the RB coach at Duke, where he was also a graduate assistant for two years and played running back for the Blue Devils. During his playing career at Duke, he played for two coaches now with the Titans, Mike Heimerdinger and John Zernhelt. He also worked with Titans assistant special teams coach Marty Galbraith at Duke in 2004.

Todd McNair was most recently the RB coach at USC, but his contract was not renewed. He was linked to the Reggie Bush scandal, and was likely let go as part of USC's housecleaning. Jeff Fisher is a USC alum, and McNair played for the Oilers in 1994 and 1995, Fisher's last year as an assistant and first as head coach. Coaches may shy away from McNair is he has to deal with the NCAA, lawsuits, etc., but he may still be an attractive candidate.

Amp Lee coaches running backs for the Las Vegas Locomotives of the UFL. He also spent time as an offensive quality control assistant with the Cardinals and two seasons in NFL Europe. Lee played RB in the NFL for nine years with the 49ers, Vikings, Rams, and Eagles. In his two years with the 49ers, both Jeff Fisher and Titans special teams coach Alan Lowry were both on the coaching staff in San Francisco. While he doesn't have a lot of high level coaching experience, there is something to be said for having a long and fairly productive playing career.

Jeff Fisher has said that this hire will most likely come from within the current staff, so while it may be fun to throw names around, chances are that either Marty Galbraith or Dowell Loggains will be named RB coach. It is also possible that between these two and Mike Heimerdinger, they collectively pick up the slack and don't officially name anyone the running backs coach.

Update: QB coach Craig Johnson will coach the running backs, and offensive quality control assistant Dowell Loggains will take over as QB coach.

North Texas Offensive Line Coach

Herb Hand left from Tulsa to Vanderbilt, so Tulsa head coach Todd Graham was quick to find a replacement in North Texas OL coach Spencer Leftwich. The coaching tree has come up with four potential replacements:

Keith Uperesa is going into his first year as the OL coach at Nicholls State. He spent the last five years at UNLV. He spent twelve years at Snow College, his last four as head coach. Eight of his seasons at Snow College, he coached with current North Texas offensive coordinator Mike Canales. Uperesa and Canales were also graduate assistants together at BYU in 1985 and '86.

Mike Simmonds returned to his alma mater, Indiana State, as offensive line coach after four years at South Florida. Three of his years at USF were spent with Mike Canales. This seems like it would be a perfect hire, a step up for Simmonds and the comfortability factor for Canales coming into his first year at North Texas. The one snag may be that Simmonds wouldn't want to leave his alma mater hanging, especially so close to the start of the season.

Other than a short stint as a high school coach, Larry Scott has spent his entire career at South Florida. He played offensive line for the Bulls in the late 90s, and after four years coaching in high school, he returned to USF in 2005 as director of high school relations. He became a graduate assistant in '06, and then became tight ends coach the following year. He was promoted to offensive line coach last season, but was named TE coach as part of Skip Holtz' staff. It seems that Scott is very loyal to his alma mater and will stay put, but the chance to coach offensive line under Mike Canales again may be a reason to leave.

Jeff Bryant is currently the offensive line coach at Fort Hays State. He played offensive line at Tulsa from 2004-06, where his position coach was Spencer Leftwich. He was a graduate assistant at North Texas in 2008, working with the offensive line and tight ends. Bryant doesn't have a lot of experience, but don't be surprised if he gets this job because of the timing of Leftwich's departure. If Todd Dodge is unable to find a quality, experienced replacement in the next day or two, expect Bryant to take over the position.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Tulsa Offensive Line Coach

Co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Herb Hand left Tulsa for a job at Vanderbilt, leaving an opening at Tulsa. Chad Morris will likely become the primary offensive coordinator, leaving the Golden Hurricane looking for a replacement OL coach. The coaching tree has come up with three potential replacements:

Denver Johnson is currently the offensive line coach at Colorado. He has twelve years of head coaching experience prior to his time at Colorado, spending nine years at Illinois State after three at Murray State. Johnson was a four year letter-winner at Tulsa as an offensive lineman, and has also coached in the state of Oklahoma, spending four years coaching OL at Oklahoma State and one year at the University of Oklahoma. He coached with current Tulsa DL coach Paul Randolph at Illinois State in 2000 and spent four years playing with special teams coach Bill Blankenship, who was a quarterback at Tulsa. Johnson seems like a perfect fit, but Colorado to Tulsa would typically be looked at as a step down or lateral move at best. One reason Johnson may choose to leave is that Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins is on the hot seat and may not last much longer in Boulder. This could be an opportunity for job security for Denver Johnson, not to mention a return to his alma mater.

Bob McClain spent the 2009 season as the tight ends coach at Tulsa, but left in March to coach the offensive line at Appalachian State. McClain also coached with current Tulsa head coach Todd Graham at West Virginia for two years (2001-02), where he was a graduate assistant while Graham coached safeties and linebackers. Paul Randolph was also on the WVU staff in 2002, coaching defensive line and special teams.

Vance Vice is the offensive line coach at Louisiana-Monroe, where he is going into his second season. He has also spent time at Utah State and Illinois State as OL coach. He spent the 2000 season at Illinois State with Paul Randolph. Vice has ties to the state of Oklahoma, having played tight end at Oklahoma State from 1986-89. Tulsa is generally considered a step up from Louisiana-Monroe, plus there is always the chance that Tulsa could offer the title of Co-offensive coordinator to Vice or any of the other candidates.

Update: Spencer Leftwich is expected to be named the OL coach at Tulsa. He currently coaches the offensive line at North Texas. He also coached at Tulsa from 2003-06.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Vanderbilt Offensive Line Coach

Bobby Johnson retired just weeks before the start of camp, at a time where it would likely be too late to bring in a new head coach. OL coach/Assistant head coach Robbie Caldwell has taken over as head coach on an interim basis. With Johnson's departure and the promotion of Caldwell, there is currently one opening on the staff. With Caldwell in the role of head coach for the first time in his career, it would make sense to bring in a new offensive line coach to free him up to oversee the entire team. The coaching tree has come up with three potential replacements:

Clay Hendrix currently coaches the offensive line at the Air Force Academy, where he is going into his fourth year. Prior to joining Air Force, he coached offensive line at Furman, where he coached with current Vanderbilt coaches Des Kitchings (RB), Ted Cain (TE/ST), and Bruce Fowler (LB). Hendrix was also a graduate assistant at North Carolina State from 1986-87, where he worked with Vandy coaches Robbie Caldwell, Jimmy Kiser, and Cain. Clay Hendrix played offensive line at Furman from 1982-85, where his position coach was Robbie Caldwell. Hendrix certainly has all of the connections in place for this job, but the questions for him to ask himself is if Vanderbilt is enough of a step up from Air Force, and if it is worth the risk of a likely coaching change after the season.

John Reagan joined the Rice Owls as TE coach after six seasons coaching the offensive line at Kansas. He has also been an OL coach at Air Force and Temple. He coached with current Vanderbilt wide receivers coach Charlie Fisher at Temple from 2000-01. Typically going from coaching tight ends to offensive line is considered a step up, and Vandy would most likely be looked at as a step up from Rice, so it seems that Reagan would have good reasons to take the job if offered.

Bill Durkin is currently the offensive line coach at Bowling Green. He came from Hofstra, who dropped their program after the 2009 season. Durkin spent 11 years coaching at Richmond, one of which was spent working with current Vandy offensive coordinator Jimmy Kiser. Vanderbilt is certainly considered a step up from Bowling Green, but again, taking a job in July that has a strong possibility of changing hands after the season is a high risk.

Update: Tulsa Co-Offensive coordinator/OL coach Herb Hand will join Vanderbilt's coaching staff, presumably as the new offensive line coach.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Southern Miss Defensive Backs Coach

Southern Miss lost defensive backs coach Je'Ney Jackson to "an unspecified basketball program." Now, the Golden Eagles will be looking to replace Jackson as soon as possible with camp starting in a few weeks. The coaching tree has come up with three potential replacements:

Perry Carter is the assistant defensive backs coach for the NFL's Houston Texans. He is going into his first year in that position after four years as a defensive assistant with the team. Carter, who played defensive back at Southern Miss from 1989-93, would have to decide if the chance to coach at his alma mater is worth a recent promotion that he has been working towards since joining the Texans in 2006.

Allen Johnson coaches cornerbacks at UTEP, where he has been since 2008. Johnson spent the 2006 season as a quality control coach at Oklahoma State, where current Southern Miss head coach Larry Fedora was the offensive coordinator. The question for Johnson would be if this is a step up from his current job, because he wouldn't leave for something considered a lateral move.

Fred Tate came to Marshall to coach their safeties in January after two years at Chattanooga. He spent three years coaching at Southern Miss from 2004-2006. He also coached the defensive line at Middle Tennessee in 2002, where current Southern Miss offensive coordinator Blake Anderson was the WR coach. Tate is also a Southern Miss alum, playing defensive line for the Golden Eagles in 1995 and '96.

Update: LSU assistant strength & conditioning coach Grady Brown has been named the new DB coach at Southern Miss.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Illinois Tight Ends Coach

When Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips decided to let TE coach Steve Ortmayer go, he quickly brought in Wildcat alum Greg Nord to fill the vacancy. That leaves a position open at Illinois, and the coaching tree has come up with three potential replacements:

Cheston Blackshear is currently the TE coach at New Mexico, where former Illini offensive coordinator Mike Locksley is the head coach. Blackshear spent one year as a graduate assistant under Ron Zook at Illinois in 2005 after three years as a GA under Zook at Florida. If offered, Blackshear's decision would likely come down to who he is more loyal to - Zook or Locksley.

Chip Long is a graduate assistant specializing in tight ends at Arkansas under head coach Bobby Petrino. Petrino's brother, Paul, is the offensive coordinator at Illinois after two years at Arkansas. In addition to two years as a GA in Fayetteville, Chip Long also worked under Paul Petrino and current Illini QB coach Jeff Brohm at Louisville. Long played tight end at North Alabama from 2002-2005.

Matt Wells, like Cheston Blackshear, coaches under former Illini offensive coordinator Mike Locksley at New Mexico. Wells, who coaches the wide receivers, spent the '09 season at Louisville after two years at New Mexico. He was not retained when Locksley was named head coach, but was hired back for 2010. Current Illinois RB coach DeAndre Smith coached with Wells in 2008 at UNM. Wells also has ties to OC Paul Petrino, who was an assistant at Utah State from 1995-97. Matt Wells is a Utah State alum, where he was a QB from 1993-96. Wells does have experience working with tight ends, as he was the TE coach at Tulsa for five years prior to his first stint at New Mexico.

Update: Chip Long, according to, will be named as Illinois' new TE coach.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

USC Running Backs Coach

Todd McNair's contract was not renewed by USC, so the Trojans are in need of a new running backs coach. The coaching tree has come up with five potential replacements:

Kelly Skipper is the RBs coach for the Raiders. He was originally hired by Lane Kiffin to coach tight ends in Oakland in 2008. Kiffin was fired early in the '08 season, so they didn't coach together for very long. Skipper was the RB coach at Fresno State from 1992-98, where Kiffin was a quarterback and later a student assistant coach for the Bulldogs. This would be a lateral move at best for Skipper, but the chance to work with Lane Kiffin again and an escape from Raider-land could be enticing.

Jamaal Fobbs was named the RB coach at Tennessee-Chattanooga after spending the 09 season as an intern under Lane Kiffin at Tennessee. He started his career in 2006 as a graduate assistant at LSU in 2006. Fobbs isn't highly qualified for such a high profile job, but may have a chance at this time of year.

Chad Morton is currently the assistant special teams coach with the Green Bay Packers. He was a long time RB and return man in the NFL after a successful career at USC from 1997-2000. Again, Morton isn't highly qualified, but has USC ties and would likely jump at the chance if offered.

Charles London was most recently a quality control coach with the Chicago Bears. He wasn't retained after the '09 season after three years with the team. Prior to joining the Bears, London was the RB coach at Duke after two years as a GA with the Blue Devils. He played running back at Duke in the mid-90s, where current USC quarterback coach Clay Helton was his position coach in 1996.

Legendary former USC and NFL running back Marcus Allen could have a shot at this job. With the position opening up so close to the start of the season, it is much more difficult to find highly qualified candidates willing to leave their current positions. Allen, who has never been a coach, could step in, possibly on an interim basis. While it is hard to justify hiring someone without coaching experience, it is always helpful in recruiting to have a College and Pro football hall of fame caliber player on staff.

Update: Kennedy Pola, who joined the Tennessee Titans this past off-season, will join USC as their offensive coordinator and RB coach.