Somewhere between taking shots at Lane Kiffin and babbling excessively about Rich Ellerson during last week's podcast, Brian and I forgot to mention the absurd amount of coaching changes that took place this offseason in the Mid American Conference. Never one to shy away from giving my opinion on all things related to the non-BCS conferences, here are some thoughts on the new MAC coaches for 2009.
Ball State Out: Brady Hoke (Hired by San Diego State) In: Stan Parrish (Former Ball State OC) I think this is both a good long-term and short-term hire. Parrish is actually one of the best recruiters in the conference, and has a proven track record of attracting mid and low tier Big 10 prospects to come and play for the Cardinals (see: Nate Davis, Briggs Orsbon.) I think he was one of the most underrated coordinators in the entire FBS over the past several season, and should keep Ball State rolling offensively. The real challenge will be on the defensive side of the ball. Ball State should be fine considering the depth returning this year (seven returning starters), but with Hoke leaving you have to wonder if they will struggle down the road.
Out: Gregg Brandon (Fired)
In: Dave Clausen (Former Tennessee OC)
Clausen was one of the very best head coaches in all of the FCS when he coached at Richmond (2004-2007) and brings with him experience as both a headman and a coordinator to the Falcon program. I know he did not have much success at Tennessee last year but to tell you the truth it is hard to go into an SEC school and transform an offense in one season, especially considering how ill-equipped the Vols were in terms of personnel. Bowling Green was a decent 6-6 last year and although I questioned the decision to fire Gregg Brandon, I think the move to Clausen is ultimately in the program's best interest and should pay dividends immediately.
Out: Jeff Genyk (Fired)
In: Ron English (Former Louisville DC)
I actually thought Jeff Genyk was a decent coach and an underrated recruiter, but there is no disputing that his teams underperformed in Ypsilanti and after five years it was time for a change. English is a good short-term hire because he can help shore up the defense immediately, while he inherits a veteran and already strong EMU offense led by senior QB Andy Schmitt. I like English's recruiting ties to Big 10 country, but ultimately I question whether or not he can sustain success at Eastern Michigan. Like Genyk coming into EMU a few years back, English has never been a HC before and despite success as a high profile coordinator will have to deal with the unique challenges of selling a very tough program to sell. Not exactly the most charismatic guy in the world, this hire may end up going south after one or two good seasons.
Out: Shane Montgomery (Fired)
In: Mike Haywood (Former ND Offensive Assistant)
I don't like this hire in the long-term or the short-term. Miami University is a program that is used to winning in the MAC but has very little going for them going into 2009. The offense was almost nonexistsant last year, while the defense loses its best players to graduation. Haywood is a smash mouth football coach with a great personality, but can he make this program competitive in a MAC conference which seems to be heading the way of the Big XII in terms of a formula for offensive success? He has had very limited coaching experience in the past and although he brings "name" recognition, you have to wonder if being associated with Charlie Weis really means as much as it used to for a high school recruit. I think this was a "wrong person, wrong time" hire for the program and a "wrong school, wrong situation" for Haywood.
Out: Tom Amstutz (Resigned)
In: Tim Beckman (Former Oklahoma St. Defesnive Coordinator)
Amstutz may have been the butt of a number of fat and gambling jokes during his career at Toledo, but people forget that he was one of the best coaches ANYWHERE in the country between 2001-2005, winning two conference titles and four division titles during that time. That being said Tim Beckman is a good hire in the sense that he has experience scheming against spread offenses coming over from Oklahoma State, a skill that should serve him well against the MAC's increasingly offensive and spread oriented style of play. Beckman also has great recruiting ties to Ohio thanks to his days as a position coach at Ohio State, and should be in a position to attract his fair share of talent to a Toledo program which has heard nothing but bad news as of late. While Amstutz was one of the MAC's best coaches, I like this hire and think it was a great move by the school. Thoughts?