Key to the Arizona Cardinals' success: Old Guys
NFL executives will turn over every rock in looking for the right head coach. This past offseason, teams hired former NFL head coaches, college coaches, NFL coordinators, and the Chicago Bears even went to Canada to find a coach. But there's one market that has gone underexploited of late, save for the Arizona Cardinals: old guys.
After ridding themselves of 50-year-old Ken Whisenhunt, the Cardinals pulled Colts interim head coach/offensive coordinator away from Indianapolis to be their next head coach. Arians is 61. To be a first-time NFL head coach at age 61, Arians is basically Methuselah.
And he's still 14 years younger than his offensive coordinator and assistant head coach, Tom Moore.
"Tom Moore will tell us when a pass originated, and everyone in the room's eyes will get big," Arians told the Wall Street Journal. "Guys are lining up saying, 'You helped Cris Carter and Lynn Swann? How can you help me?'"
According to Moore, he only looks 75, but he certainly doesn't feel it.
"I had one knee replaced last April and one replaced in August," said Moore. "I feel like I'm 50."
After last year's 5-11 season, the 7-5 Cardinals have upped their win total with four games to spare. With wins in four of their last five games and dates with Seattle and San Francisco head, Arizona sits one game out of the NFC playoff picture.
"Sometimes head coaches are afraid of (older assistants) because they do know so much," Arians said. "I want the most qualified people I can get. I want their honest opinion.
"Age has nothing to do with energy. They are wearing the younger guys out."
Chuck Martin will be the new head coach at Miami (Ohio)
Miami (Ohio) hoped to have a new head coach in place by the end of the regular season. It took a couple extra days, but the RedHawks have found their guy in Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chuck Martin.
Martin is a Brian Kelly disciple in the truest sense of the word. After beginning his career as a graduate assistant at Mankato State in 1992 and then taking jobs at Wittenberg, Millikin and Eastern Michigan, Martin was hired as Kelly's defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach at Grand Valley State in 2000.
After Kelly left Grand Valley State for the Central Michigan job following the 2003 season, Martin was elevated to head coach. He led the Lakers to a 74-7 record in six seasons, including back-to-back NCAA Division II titles in 2005-06 and and five consecutive Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championships. Under Martin, Grand Valley State never had a season end short of the Division II quarterfinals.
Kelly accepted the Notre Dame job in 2010, and Martin joined him, again as defensive backs coach. Martin made the rare switch from secondary coach to offensive coordinator in 2012, and the move had immediate dividends. Juggling between redshirt freshman quarterback Everett Golson and junior Tommy Reese, the Fighting Irish jumped from 110th to 14th nationally in turnovers lost, which proved to be a turning point as Notre Dame leapt from an 8-5 finish in 2011 to a 12-0 regular season and an appearance in the BCS National Championship a year later.
In landing Martin, Miami (Ohio) becomes the second FBS school to fill its head coaching vacancy, following USC's hiring of Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian on Monday. Miami (Ohio) was also the second school to have an opening this season, dismissing Don Treadwell on October 6, one week after Lane Kiffin was let go at USC. There are six vacant FBS head coaching jobs at this time.
As always, we will have more updates as they become available.
MAC AD: 'It's a great sign for our program when our coaches are moving on'
Like it or not, there isn't a lot of staying power among MAC head coaches. Of the 11 currently employed coaches in the 13-team league, one has been on the job longer than five years - Ohio's Frank Solich, a 69-year-old that spent a half-dozen years on the mountaintop at Nebraska. He's the outlier. Only four of the 13 schools have employed their current head coach for longer than three seasons.
In many cases, most MAC head coaches are on the way out the door the second they take the job. Win, and you're heading out the front door to a job in a bigger conference. Lose, and you're out the back door. It's no one's picture perfect version of reality, but it is reality.
One person who accepts this reality is Ball State athletics director Bill Scholl.
“You accept it to a degree,” Scholl told the Fort Wayne (Ind.) News-Sentinel. “You know that it's going to happen. We do everything that we can to keep them here as long as we can. We try to make the job as pleasant and rewarding as possible, both in the little things that make the job fun, and the bigger things like salary and those sorts of things.
“We'll do everything within our power to keep our good coaches as long as we can keep them.”
Scholl's head football coach, Pete Lembo, is 24-12 in three seasons in Muncie. He's taken a program that went 6-18 in the two seasons prior to his arrival to back-to-back bowl trips after a 6-6 debut in 2011. Which, of course, means his name has been linked to every available job short of the Brooklyn Nets.
While Scholl and every single person in Cardinal red and black would prefer to keep Lembo, just like Central Michigan would've loved to keep Brian Kelly and Bowling Green would've loved to hang on to Urban Meyer, it's just not reality.
So how should the Ball State community take it when a coach moves on? As a compliment, Scholl says.
“I think that Ball State (fans) should take pride in the fact that in the last several years, we've lost coaches to Michigan, Ohio State, Arizona State… I think that it is a sign of great respect for our program when our coaches are moving on to those kinds of jobs.
“At the end of the day, our good coaches are going to have opportunities that we just can't match.”
In our opinion, this is a great thing for Ball State. When the coaching community sees Brady Hoke and Pete Lembo succeed and move on to a bigger job, it makes the Ball State job more attractive to talented coaches. When your school becomes a proven springboard to the BCS, other coaches want to become the next Hoke and the next Lembo.
2013 Quarterbacks Coach of the Year - Finalists
The FootballScoop Coaches of the Year awards, presented by ProGrass, are the only set of awards that recognize the most outstanding position coaches in college football. Finalists were selected based off of nominations by coaches, athletic directors and other athletic department personnel. The winner will be chosen by the previous winners of this award and will be announced on Thursday, December 12th.
The 2013 FootballScoop Coaches of the Year will be recognized and will receive their awards at an event held in their honor at the American Football Coaches Association's annual convention in January.
Previous winners of the Quarterbacks of the Year award are Josh Heupel (Oklahoma, 2008), Tom Rossley (Texas A&M, 2009), Mark Hefrich (Oregon, 2010 & 2012) and Philip Montgomery (Baylor, 2011).
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Cut, Gus and Gary Pinkel named Maxwell Coach of the Year finalists
Late Saturday night we posted a column debating the merits of Gus Malzahn and David Cutcliffe for national coach of the year. Each coach has (obviously) done and outstanding job, and each has fantastic points in his favor. Check the comments of that article and you'll see support is split down the middle, with some votes thrown toward Missouri's Gary Pinkel as well.
Two days later and - what do you know? - the three national coach of the year finalists are Gus Malzahn, David Cutcliffe and Gary Pinkel.
Naming those three finalists was easy. Picking a winner will be the hard part. A trio of clubs that went a combined 5-19 in conference play last season will each play for a conference title on Saturday.
A quick re-hash of each coach's candidacy:
PRO: He went 10-2 at Duke. He's 60 minutes away from winning the ACC and playing in the Orange Bowl. AT DUKE.
CON: Even Cut will tell you this season hasn't been much of a surprise. A season like this has been six seasons in the building. And the ACC schedule-maker did the Blue Devils a ton of favors by allowing them to miss both Florida State and Clemson.
PRO: An 11-1 debut after last year's 3-9 debacle will be the one-year turnaround for which all other one-year turnaround are measured against. If things break right elsewhere on Saturday, Malzahn could be the first coach since Miami's Larry Coker to play for a national title in year one.
CON: Last year's disaster notwithstanding, this is how a team with four straight top-10 recruiting classes should perform. Name another coach that walks into a situation with this much talent and talent specifically recruited to play in his system.
PRO: They don't have an Iron Bowl-like marquee win, but Missouri has been the most consistent of the one-loss teams. The Tigers have yet to allow more than 28 points this season, and each win has come by at least seven points. Aside from that disaster of a fourth quarter against South Carolina, this has been one of the top two teams in the country all season.
CON: At 5-7, he doesn't have the dramatic turnaround story of Malzahn, and going 11-1 at Missouri doesn't feel as impossible as going 10-2 at Duke. Outside of last season's injury-plagued 5-7 season, Pinkel's always been a winner in Columbia.
So, who you got?
At Ohio State, 'preparation doesn't stop until the foot hits the ball'
As we all know from his time at Florida, to his exit, to his now stellar start at Ohio State, Urban Meyer puts a ton of time in at the office, and his assistants have proven to be among the best in the country at developing the right game plan to attack their opponents.
This weekend's challenge in the Big Ten title game against Michigan State presents a unique opportunity for Urban and offensive coordinator Tom Herman to develop a game plan against one of best defenses that college football has seen over the past few seasons.
As one reporter pointed out in a press conference yesterday, the Spartan defense (who lead the country in most major defensive categories) haven't allowed a single point in the second half of six of their eight Big Ten games. Based on that stat, a reporter asked Herman if he would have two game plans ready; one for the first half and one for the second.
Herman, after acknowledging that the stat was something he was unaware even existed, responded with a quote on preparation from Urban Meyer that has undoubtedly played a role in their offensive success this season.
"Coach Meyer has a great phrase where he says 'preparation doesn't stop until the foot hits the ball,'" he explained. "Once the foot hits the ball, you're in adjustment mode and you're constantly adapting throughout the course of the game, whether it's the first quarter or the first drive, or the first drive of the second half, or the third drive of the fourth quarter.
"You're constantly adjusting and trying to figure out where the defense is trying to attack you and how they're going to attack you. So no, I don't think that there is anything to be saved for the second half even if a team like this is having great success in the second half."
Kelly: 'You can't start winning until you stop losing'
Brian Kelly joined The Seth Davis Show recently to talk about how him and his staff went about changing the culture at Notre Dame and ended up sharing some really interesting thoughts on coaching, life and (of course) football.
The show opens up with Davis asking Kelly about the uniqueness of the Notre Dame job because of the rich history and always having to live up to expectations based on past accomplishments, and evolves into the changing landscape of college football and why he has decided to emphasize the little things like how each player arranges his locker the same.
When it comes to recruiting, Kelly talks about how some of Notre Dame's distinctions keep them from spinning their wheels because they're able to tell recruits that when you consider coming to ND, you're "shopping in a different aisle" compared to other program's.
Really well done, candid interview here with an excellent head coach who knows a thing or two about turning things around. This will be the best 15 minutes you take for yourself today.
Video: Welcome to Williams-Brice, home of the nation's longest win streak
Great video here highlighting the success that South Carolina has seen at Williams-Brice this season, and beyond.
Very well put together.