Tag:Paul Petrino
Posted on: January 23, 2012 5:15 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2012 5:17 pm
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SEC West coordinator hires: thumbs up or down?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

With all 28 positions now filled, here's one team-by-team assessment of where the SEC stands at the two most important assistant coaching positions. First, the West:

ALABAMA

2011: Jim McElwain offensive coordinator, Kirby Smart defensive.
Departures: McElwain accepted the job as Colorado State head coach.
2012: McElwain has been replaced by Washington OC Doug Nussmaier.

Thumbs up/down? Firmly up. Some of that is the hire of Nussmaier, who -- once freed from trying to turn Jake Locker into the efficient college QB he was never going to be -- coaxed Keith Price into becoming one of 2011's breakout stars and the Huskies to a 24th-place finish in yards-per-play. (It doesn't hurt that Nussmaier cut his coordinating teeth in the same Fresno State program McElwain did.) But even bigger was that the Tide retained the services of Smart for another year, despite his having overseen a 2011 'Bama defense that merely ranked among the best the game has ever seen.

ARKANSAS

2011: Garrick McGee offensive, Willy Robinson defensive.
Departures: McGee took the UAB head coaching positionRobinson resigned after four up-and-down years in Fayetteville.
2012: Paul Petrino returns to his brother's staff as OC after two seasons at Illinois; Paul Haynes arrives as DC after seven years at Ohio State.

Thumbs up/down? Up. It's hard to imagine a snugger fit for the offense than the same person who ran it for two successful seasons in 2008 and 2009. Haynes is unproven as a defensive play-caller -- Jim Heacock handled those duties for the Buckeyes -- but there's no arguing with the overall defensive success OSU experienced during Haynes' stay in Columbus. Anything approaching a Buckeye-esque D in 2012 will be a big improvement on the Robinson era.

AUBURN

2011: Gus Malzahn offensive, Ted Roof defensive.
Departures: Malzahn is now the head coach at Arkansas State; Roof avoided a potential dismissal by first taking the UCF DC's job, then rejoining old Duke colleague Bill O'Brien at Penn State.
2012: Temple OC and longtime Michigan/Florida QB coach Scot Loeffler will run the offenseAtlanta Falcons DC Brian VanGorder the defense.

Thumbs up/down? Up. VanGorder is a smash hire with a successful track record both in the NFL and the SECthe sort of coach who should return the Tigers' defense to respectability in a hurry. Loeffler is a young, highly respected up-and-comer who's been due for an OC gig like Auburn's, but his pro-style leanings and early talk about "helping our defense and special teams" signals a wrenching shift in philosophy from Malzahn's no-huddle spread. Is he sharp enough to overcome what could be some serious transitional hiccups?

LSU

2011: Steve Kragthorpe and Greg Studrawa offensive, John Chavis defensive.
Departures: None.

Thumbs up/down? Up. Despite the horrorshow put on by the Tigers in the BCS national title game, after a 13-0 regular season (and 17th-place finish in scoring offense) Les Miles is entirely justified in looking to tweak the LSU play-calling rather than overhaul it. And Chavis, of course, continues to quietly roll along as one of the college game's most productive assistants.

OLE MISS

2011: David Lee offensive, Tyrone Nix defensive.
Departures: Both Lee and Nix, swept out along with Houston Nutt.
2012: Hugh Freeze brought Arkansas State DC Dave Wommack with him while hiring former Rebel OC Dan Werner out of college-coaching retirement.

Thumbs up/down? Tentatively down, which is not to say there aren't positives. Freeze will have a heavy hand in running the Rebel offense, so Werner's time away from the game won't hurt much, and the veteran is highly familiar with both the Mississippi recruiting trails and the Rebel program. Wommack, meanwhile, enjoyed an excellent 2011 season overseeing a resurgent Red Wolves defense. But both coaches' resumes are more solid than spectacular; for a head coach (and a program) with plenty of question marks of his (and its) own to answer, a legitimate needle-moving hire would have been helpful.

MISSISSIPPI STATE

2011: Les Koenning offensive, Chris Wilson defensive.
Departures: None.

Thumbs up/down? Tentatively up. Wilson's first season in charge of the Bulldog D (after a promotion from coaching the defensive line) was promising, with a rapidly-improving unit holding four of their final six FBS opponents under 4 yards per-play. But the Bulldog offense was a disappointment, finishing ninth in both total yards and yards per-play in conference games; though Dan Mullen's close oversight of the offense means Koenning can't be blamed for those struggles, you could argue a switch might have given the Bulldog O a spark this offseason ... even if we won't.

TEXAS A&M

2011: Mike Sherman as his own OC, Tim DeRuyter defensive.
Departures: The fired Sherman, obviously. DeRuyter landed on his feet as the Fresno State head coach.
2012: Kevin Sumlin brought Houston co-OC Kliff Kingsbury with him as play-caller and hired Mark Snyder away from USF as DC.

Thumbs-up/down? Up. Though the Sumlin/Kingsbury tag team may miss Jason Phillips (the Cougars' other co-OC, now at SMU), it's hard to argue with Sumlin over any plan for his offense, given what he (with Kingsbury's help) accomplished at Houston. Snyder, meanwhile, bolstered an often-sloppy USF defense into the FBS top 15 in yards-per-play each of his two years in Tampa and brings head coaching experience from his time at Marshall. Barring hiring someone like VanGorder for the defense, it's hard to see how Sumlin could have done much better for the kind of program he wants to build -- in either slot -- than he did.

Tomorrow: the East. For all of Eye on CFB's SEC coverage, click here.

Thanks to TeamSpeedKills' helpful "Coaching Carousel Scorecard." 

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Posted on: January 18, 2012 2:13 pm
 

Illinois FB Jay Prosch to transfer to Auburn

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

We mentioned in the wake of Barrett Trotter's departure from the Auburn football program that Gene Chizik appeared to be looking to move in a pro-style direction with his new offensive coordinator hire--a decision that looks even more likely with the delay in replacing Gus Malzahn rumored to be due to Chizik interviewing candidates still involved in the NFL playoffs. But the arrival of a new transfer from Illinois now makes that philosophical shift look more likely than ever.

That player is Illini fullback Jay Prosch, a Mobile (Ala.) native who will be transferring to Auburn in order to be closer to his ailing mother, who is battling cancer. New Illinois head coach Tim Beckman announced Prosch's decision in a statement Wednesday.

"Jay Prosch has decided to transfer to Auburn and will be there for the current semester," Beckman said. "He will have an opportunity to be much closer to his mother, who continues to face health issues. We wish Jay the best as he makes this move."

Prosch could be available for the Tigers as soon as the 2012 season, if the NCAA approves a hardship waiver due to his mother's health; if not, he will redshirt during his transfer year and return with two years of eligibility remaining in 2013.

Though the transfer of few fullbacks would make headlines, Prosch isn't any ordinary fullback. He was named a first-team All-American by Pro Football Weeklyan honor that essentially amounts to the publication naming the sophomore the FBS's top pro prospect at the position. Prosch became the Illini's starting lead blocker as a true freshman and helped the team to an 11th-place finish in rushing in 2010, thanks in large part to his workout-warrior strength and devotion to the weight room.

Prosch recently admitted to the Mobile Press-Register that he may have considered staying in Champaign if not for the Illini's head coaching change, which will see the team move to a spread system that doesn't utilize fullbacks; Beckman reportedly told Prosch he would be used as either an H-back or tight end, and with Prosch claiming he's "never been trained in running pass routes," a diminishing role appeared to be a certainty.

But this begs the question: why transfer to Auburn, whose offense under Malzahn also rarely (if ever) used a traditional fullback? Prosch said he had been cleared to talk to 11 of the 12 SEC schools (the Illini prohibited him from following ex-Illini assistant and newly-hired coordinator Paul Petrino to Arkansas), many of which already employ pro-style offenses and use Prosch-like fullbacks far more regularly than the Tigers.

The answer is very, very likely to be that Auburn is about to become the sort of team that regularly uses a fullback. And fortunately for Chizik, his team stands poised to start by using one of the nation's best.

For daily real-time updates on Auburn or Illinois football, follow our Tiger CBSSports.com RapidReports by Jay Tate here or Cody Westerlund's Illini RapidReports here. 

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Posted on: January 13, 2012 12:13 pm
 

Tyler Wilson returning to Arkansas

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The SEC West is going to be rather tough again in 2012. Arkansas, which found out earlier this week that running back Knile Davis would be returning from a knee injury next year, got some more good news on Friday. Quarterback Tyler Wilson will be returning to Arkansas for his senior season.

“I have decided to stay at Arkansas for the 2012 season because I am extremely excited for what this team has the opportunity to accomplish and to finish earning my degree," said Wilson in a release. "After the feedback I received, the decision was difficult to make. Ultimately, the chance to complete my academics and play one more season as a Razorback were  compelling reasons for me to remain in Fayetteville. This past year was great for us with 11 wins and a top-five finish and we want to build on that. The group of players we have returning has high expectations and wants to work hard to compete for championships. Although my goal is to play in the NFL, I believe I can benefit greatly from another year of working with Coach (Bobby) Petrino and Coach Paul Petrino. I am excited to be able to spend one more season at a university where the leadership shows a tremendous amount of support and the passion of the fans is the best in the country.”

Wilson took over as Arkansas' starting quarterback in 2011 after Ryan Mallett left for the NFL, and had great season for the Razorbacks. He finished the year throwing for 3,638 yards and 24 touchdowns for an offense that averaged 36.8 points per game.

Considering that Wilson will have a full year of experience under his belt heading into 2012 and the return of Knile Davis, an Arkansas team that finished the season 11-2 -- with those losses coming to Alabama and LSU -- and ranked fifth in the country will be a darkhorse candidate to be the SEC's newest national champion. 

Get caught up on the early-entry announcements HERE, and all the latest rankings, mock drafts, and breaking news check out the NFL Draft Home 

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Posted on: December 28, 2011 8:44 pm
 

Keys to the game: Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

Posted by Bryan Fischer

UCLA WILL WIN IF: The defense has to step up and get some stops. The Bruins defense looked better in the Pac-12 Championship game than they did in the regular season finale but still gave up nearly half a hundred. The secondary is young but has come along late in the season and should be healthier than they were at the end of the year. Both lines need for a few players to step up and become solid contributors this game, especially along the disappointing defensive line that was among the country's worst at getting into the backfield. The offense should be solid but if UCLA wants to get back to .500 for the season, they're going to need the defense to play the best they have since the Colorado game in mid-November.

ILLINOIS WILL WIN IF: The Illini have a pretty solid defense that has surprised some folks this season so it's up to the offense to use the extra time off before the game to get things going again. Offensive coordinator Paul Petrino has already left the team and that might be a good thing considering the team averaged just 11 points per game in their six game losing streak to end the season. Luckily their weakness (the offensive line) is matched up against the Bruins' weakness (the front seven - without middle linebacker Patrick Larimore) so it's likely quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase could have some time to make some plays. You can probably put All-American defensive end Whitney Mercilus down for a big game against the UCLA line he'll be facing.

X-FACTOR: Does anybody really want to be here? That seems to be the biggest question surrounding the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl given that two interim head coaches will be leading two teams that ended the year by falling flat on their faces. Illinois, sans Ron Zook, lost six straight games and you would figure that they want to get that taste out of their mouths. UCLA was thumped in their final two games to become the first team to make a bowl game at 6-7 and has several players who didn't make the trip up to the Bay Area due to a variety of reasons. Needless to say, motivation will be an issue in this one.

Posted on: December 6, 2011 1:05 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2011 1:05 pm
 

Paul Petrino leaves Illinois for Arkansas

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Illinois has already fired Ron Zook and will be coached by defensive coordinator Vic Koenning during the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl against UCLA. Still, offensive coordinator Paul Petrino was expected to stick around and run the offense for the bowl game, but that's no longer the case.

Petrino has left Illinois to join his brother Bobby Petrino's staff at Arkansas

While it has not been specified what role Paul Petrino will fill with the Razorbacks as of yet, it's assumed he'll be serving as offensive coordinator. Arkansas' former offensive coordinator Garrick McGee recently accepted the head coaching job at UAB.

Illinois' quarterbacks coach Jeff Brohm will take over play-calling duties for the Illini.
Posted on: September 19, 2011 8:12 pm
Edited on: September 19, 2011 8:35 pm
 

The Poll Attacks: Week 4

Posted by Bryan Fischer

The latest college football polls are out and now it's time to rip them to shreds. Senior college basketball writer Gary Parrish has been calling out voters in the major hoops polls for thinking a little bit too far outside of the box when it comes to their AP ballots every week.

With the football season starting, I thought I'd steal take the baton on the idea from my colleague and keep all of the writers across the country who vote honest. I've come to know a good number of these people through time and twitter but relationships do not matter, bad votes do.

AP Poll           Coaches Poll

(Details of AP ballots courtesy of PollSpeak.com)

Poll reactions: ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC

Rodney Dangerfield "No respect" team of the week: Illinois

The fighting Zookers are 24th in the AP Poll and unranked in the coaches this week after beating a solid Arizona State team that was ranked last week. The Illini have a very favorable schedule, perhaps the easiest in the Big Ten and plenty of solid young players on both sides of the ball. They have two good coaches in offensive coordinator Paul Petrino and defensive coordinator Vic Koenning who have made a world of difference and should be higher based on what they showed against a good team last Saturday.

Overrated: Texas, Florida

Let's face it, there are a lot of voters who want Texas and Florida to be good. They're national powers with big fan bases, they've been very good in the past and it is much easier to rank teams knowing the Longhorns and Gators are somewhere in the top 10. When it comes to Florida, they've really only played one game - a win against a shaky Tennessee team - and have never left the cozy confines of The Swamp. They have a whole new staff and a team full of players we're really not sure of outside of Jeff Demps or Chris Rainey. They're ranked 15th right now which is just ok but for the 10 voters who had them in your top 12, shame on you. And Doug Lesmerises of the Cleveland Plain Dealer? 8th, really? A Florida team who blew out FAU and beat Tennessee is the 8th best in the country?

Finally, Texas. Kudos for Andy Staples of SI.com for leaving the Longhorns off his ballot completely and justifying it. Of their wins, UCLA is terrible, BYU got killed at home by Utah and Rice is, well, Rice. And that game was on The Longhorn Network so you know something was up. If you look at the ballots you'll also find a familiar name with Texas higher than anyone at 13th: Doug Lesmerises. I know it's not fun to cover Ohio State nowadays but don't punish the rest of the teams around the country by keeping UT and UF ranked high.

California Craziness

A trio of voters from California (CSN Bay Area/CBSSports.com's Ray Ratto, San Jose Mercury News' Jon Wilner, LA Daily News' Scott Wolf) are an interesting voting block. Some would call them progressive, others would call them extreme and just about everybody else will call them crazy given their fluctuations in their ballots each week. All three are consistently in Pollspeak's group of "extreme voters" so we'll highlight the most baffling decision(s) out of each.

My man Wilner finds himself in this space once again as Wolf must be doing just enough to have been the only one of the trio to not make an appearance. He has both USC's ranked higher than anyone with the eastern version fifth and the western version 14th. Georgia and Mississippi State are somehow still on his ballot ahead of Virginia Tech, Baylor and Arkansas. Yes, really. I swear Jon has been working too hard on the realignment mess to actually watch any games. Actually, I hope that's the case because he's a nice guy but a terrible, terrible voter.

What were you thinking? Ohio State

On Saturday, I witnessed first hand how terrible Ohio State was when they played Miami. The Buckeyes looked a step slower than the Hurricanes, turned the ball over, couldn't complete a pass to save their life and never did find a quarterback. Not a bad performance, an awful one. Yet somehow, seven voters decided to put Ohio State ahead of Miami on their ballots despite the head-to-head match up. I understand Ira Schoffel works in Tallahassee but come on.

Team bias

Our tech team at CBSSports.com is pretty awesome and came up with this neat tool to take a look at team and region bias in the AP Poll. Check it out below, it's a fun thing to play around with.




Posted on: July 6, 2011 4:02 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2011 5:12 pm
 

Big Ten not spending enough on assistants?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

By now, anyone who follows college football has seen enough "BREAKING: Football coaches somehow earn lots of money in billion-dollar enterprise" headlines to last us a lifetime. So at a glance, this St. Louis Post-Dispatch article -- "Assistant coaches' salaries soar in college football" -- doesn't appear to be one we haven't read plenty of times before.

But there's one highly interesting nugget from the Post-Dispatch's math that's worth paying closer attention to:
The SEC paid its assistant coaches an average of $276,122 in 2010, according to figures compiled by St. Louis attorney and agent Bob Lattinville of the firm Stinson Morrison Hecker.
The Big 12 was second at $232,685 and the Big Ten a distant fourth, behind the Atlantic Coast Conference, at $187,055. In each instance, the averages do not include salaries at private schools such as Baylor, Penn State and Vanderbilt.
It's no surprise to see the conferences of Gus Malzahn and the Manny Diaz-Bryan Harsin tag team topping the list, but ... the Big Ten? Fourth? Really?

They may not actually be a distant fourth, in fact -- Penn State probably pays better than the likes of Indiana, and Lattinville's salary-based figures don't appear to take into account Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison's unusually structured $750,000 contract -- but it's baffling why the conference that distributes more money to its members than any other in the FBS should lag so badly behind anyone in coaching salaries. Some of that is Big Ten schools' insistence on spening their cash on crazy ideas like, say, men's soccer teams, but it's hard to see why the conference's highest-profile sport should be getting the short end of a stick this lucrative.

It's so hard, in fact, we won't speculate on the reasons. But we don't have any problem stating this for the record: the Big Ten's stinginess is hurting it on the football field.

Contrast the decisions from some of the SEC's and Big Ten's best assistants from 2010. Malzahn was offered the head coaching job at Vandy and had some interest (at least) from Maryland; he turned them both down when Auburn stepped up with its gigantic raise. In the end, the only SEC coordinator to take a head coaching job this offseason was Steve Addazio, who'd basically been dumped out of his Florida gig already.

Meanwhile, offensive coordinator Don Treadwell was busy guiding Michigan State into the national top 20 in yards per-play, winning multiple games as MSU's interim head coach during Mark Dantonio's health-related absence, and generally being the nation's most underpaid assistant as the Spartans won 11 games. He left East Lansing to take the head coaching job at Miami (Ohio). Dave Doeren capped years of outstanding work at Wisconsin by coordinating the defense that took the Badgers back to the Rose Bowl (and nearly won it); he left to become Jerry Kill's replacement at Northern Illinois. (PSU's Tom Bradley, one of Joe Paterno's longest tenured-assistants, also did some serious angling for the Temple job that went to Addazio, you'll recall.)

It's not just retention that's a problem, either. How much better would Michigan have been under Rich Rodriguez* if they'd made Jeff Casteel a Mattison-like offer-he-couldn't-refuse to tag along from West Virginia, instead of subjecting themselves to Greg "GERG" Robinson? Would Tim Brewster still be around if he'd been able to hire one legitimately great offensive coordinator instead of subjecting Adam Weber and Co. to a revolving door of schemes? Even the newcomers aren't immune--it's yet-to-be-determined, but one has to wonder if Nebraska couldn't have done better in replacing exiled OC Shawn Watson than promoting running backs coach Tim Beck (especially considering the Huskers' head coach's expertise is on the defensive side of the ball).

As the Post-Dispatch article points out, it's not like the conference has to look very far to see the value of paying top dollar for assistants. After a miserable 2009, Ron Zook was thisclose to being fired at Illinois. So he went out and hired two top-shelf coordinators at salaries commensurate with the SEC's; in fact, one of them (Bobby Petrino brother Paul Petrino) was an SEC coordinator. Result: a job-saving 7-6 campaign and, in 2011, likely the program's first back-to-back winning seasons in 20 years.

It feels awfully awkward to tell anyone to follow Ron Zook's example. But when it comes to assistant salaries, it's high time the Big Ten at-large did exactly that.

*Rodriguez actually got the defensive coordinating hire right the first time, when he plucked away current Syracuse DC Scott Shafer from Stanford; Shafer's been a success everywhere else he's been, and his work with the Orange last year--the only team in the country to finish in the top 20 in total defense while also finishing in the bottom 20 in time-of-possession--was nothing short of remarkable. But RichRod and Shafer didn't appear to see eye-to-eye, and in came Robinson after just one season. You'll forgive Wolverine fans if they spend the rest of the afternoon banging their heads against the closest wall.


Posted on: May 16, 2011 2:16 pm
 

Ron Zook loses a supporter in Champaign

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The University of Illinois announced on Monday that longtime athletic director Ron Guenther would be stepping down from the position on June 30 after 19 years on the job. While there are plenty of people in Champaign who are likely to miss Guenther, I don't think anybody will miss him more than Illinois' head football coach Ron Zook. Guenther was not only the man who hired Zook in 2004, but he may be the only reason that Zook is still employed at the school.

After Illinois floundered in the two seasons following a Rose Bowl appearance in 2007, there were many Illinois fans and boosters who wanted Zook gone. Still, Guenther kept him around and even spent the money to bring in two top assistants like Paul Petrino and Vic Koenning. Guenther also gave Zook and his assistants raises after a 7-6 season in 2010.

Make no mistake, there is always a lot of pressure on you when you're the head coach of a BCS football program. Now that Guenther is gone, there's even more pressure on Zook's shoulders. First of all, it's always optimal to work for the man that hired you, no matter what line of work you're in. When a new guy comes in you have to prove yourself all over again, or risk being replaced. There's also the chance that the new athletic director will want to bring in his own coach.

Guenther will be involved in the search for his replacement, which is good news for Zook, but just because Guenther helps choose the new AD, that doesn't mean whomever it ends up being will be as supportive. Even though Illinois has long been considered a basketball school, Guenther put a lot of money into the football program. He renovated Memorial Stadium and built an indoor football facility on the team. In other words, he put a lot of money into the program and hasn't gotten the type of results you'd want for the money spent.

There's no way of knowing whether the new athletic director will be as willing to give as much money to the football program. And if that turns out to be the case, then Zook will have to do even more with less. Zook's current contract runs through 2013, but odds are he's going to need to start winning a lot more often than he has been if he wants to be around through the end of his deal.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com