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coaching preferences with regard to second-in-command

  • petergaultney

    Like many of you, I've probably rearranged my list ten times in the last two weeks. I'd hoped for Gruden, and then for Fedora, and probably briefly for Fisher. But now that things are starting to focus ever so slightly, and having had time to think, I've realized:

    All coaches come with the majority of their experience on one side of the ball or the other. Dooley was primarily offense, Fulmer was primarily defense, etc. I'm not the first to point out how much better things went with Fulmer when Cutcliffe was around, and while part of that could be explained by the Peyton Manning effect among other things, it's still pretty reasonable to conclude that UT was at its best when the head coach's strengths were equalled by coordinator on the opposite side of the ball. The opposite side to the argument is easy enough with Dooley and Sunseri - at this point I believe that while Dooley had done a better-than-decent (not perfect) job with Chaney on offense, his choice of D-coordinator and scheme for this year was what ultimately doomed him and the team.

    (((EDIT: Fulmer was definitely NOT primarily a defensive guy, as pointed out by etownvol. I was crazy to suggest this, but I think the point may stand regardless. Fulmer always relied on Chavis to field a great defense, and even his offenses seemed to be as much the product of his offensive coordinator as of his own work. So strong competence at coordinator is probably still more important than we always admit during a head coaching search.)))

    Furthermore, tonight's SEC championship drove home the already well-proven fact that, in the SEC, defense wins championships more often than not. More than that, defense would appear to be a more sustainable strength over the long term, as it rarely depends quite as heavily on the elite skill of one or two players as does an offense (where a graduating quarterback can easily spell the difference between 10 wins and 7, a la Florida, Auburn, etc.).

    All that said, realistically speaking, I now favor a Charlie Strong hire. Why? Because despite Jim Chaney's reported recruiting inadequacies, I think he's as close to a Cutcliffe as we've had (or, just as importantly, ARE LIKELY TO GET) for a while. If we hire a D-minded coach, we need a really good O-coordinator, and I honestly think Chaney is that. The alternative is hiring an O-minded coach, which leaves us with a desperate need for a really great D-coordinator. Frankly, though I think almost everyone would agree that John Chavis would be a great hire, I don't think we have better than a 50% shot at luring him away from LSU. I know he loves UT, but I also know that he gets paid well, loves his players, and would probably feel more than a little awkward about returning to the university that 'let him go' four years ago.

    Ultimately, I think we already have a good O-coordinator, and I think that's nearly as important as having a good head coach. Whereas we do not have and cannot guarantee a slam dunk at D-coordinator, meaning that if we hire a offense-minded head coach, we definitely end up replacing at least one of our remaining strengths, and put ourselves in the tenuous position of needing a really good, as-close-to-a-sure-thing-as-possible hire at D-coordinator if we want to be successful in this league.

    I will admit that I could easily be persuaded to go with Fedora if I thought there was a better shot at getting Chavis back. But I don't see it, so I think that, long-term and short-term, we're better served by Charlie Strong coming and allowing us to maintain some continuity on offense.

    TL;DR: I vote for Charlie Strong, so that we'll stay a real SEC team and not risk being terrible on defense.

    This post was edited by petergaultney 16 months ago

  • Fulmer was OL coach, and OF under Majors, don't recall him ever being on the defensive side.

  • petergaultney

    This is true, and not sure why I brain-farted on this. I think the point still stands on the relative strength of the coordinators over the years, which is probably why I somehow decided to write something I had previously known to be untrue. =D

    EDIT: And so as not to derail what could otherwise be a decent discussion just because I got all wrapped up in that detail, I think I'll edit my original post to clarify, and let this serve as a monument to my stupidity.

    This post was edited by petergaultney 16 months ago

  • +1 peter. Several interesting points in your post. My question is this: IF we were going to open the bank vault for Gruden, why not plan on spending the same type of money for a quality head coach AND top level coordinators and even position coaches if necessary. I read where Chavis will be paid an average of $1.1 million over the course of his new contract. If an offensive minded coach, like Gundy for example, is hired, why not pay Chavis or another PROVEN DC in the range of >$1.5 million?

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