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  • Florida Gators football coach Jim McElwain takes part in Gator Walk in 2015- 1280x852- Florida Gators Football

    Jim McElwain is saying all of the right things this offseason but he knows he will ultimately be judged on the field. / Gator Country photo by David Bowie

PD’s Postulations: Winning the
offseason for the Florida Gators

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Written by David Parker, August 19, 2015, 4 Comments,
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Winning the Offseason: The New Staff

A new coach is hired to win. Win on the field. Winning moral victories off the field is necessary, but those victories are worthless when they are not backed up with wins on the field. Florida Gator fans have had to face that reality longer than they care to recall. But before a new coach can win on the field, he must put himself in position to do so by winning his first offseason. So before we start the 2015 season and get into the real meat of what this thing we call being Gator is all about, let’s take a look at how new Head Gator Jim McElwain has gone about winning the offseason. I’ll break it into four different segments. First up: winning the hiring game.

Head Coach

Out: Will Muschamp

There’s really no need to address this comparison other than to say that Muschamp was fired for a good reason. Many good reasons. The longer McElwain is on the job, the more and deeper those reasons become apparent. He was a guy who may have developed into a good head coach – and still might later in his career – but at this juncture he needed a LOT of luck and a LOT of things to go his way to make up for his weaknesses and buy him time enough to learn on the job. In the end, his biggest weakness ultimately was the biggest reason he was fired: Muschamp is a terrible judge of coaching talent. And it showed. From the initial disaster of hiring Charlie Weis as offensive coordinator to replacing one of his few good hires – Dan Quinn – with DJ Durkin as defensive coordinator for his last two seasons. Bottom line, he came in as an unproven commodity with no head coaching experience, and he came in and proved beyond a doubt that he could not get the job done.

In: Jim McElwain

Unlike the hiring of a career assistant like his predecessor, McElwain mixed great buzz and promise with an actual head coaching resume. An impressive one at that. And most importantly to Florida fans, a resume of winning big with a high-scoring OFFENSE. Mac not only proved himself as an outstanding offensive coordinator while helping guide Alabama to two national titles, but demonstrated that he was an outstanding offensive-minded head coach by turning mid-major Colorado State into a big winner in just three years. Another facet of Mac’s acumen that will warm the cockles of Gator hearts which grew weary of the last coach’s obsession with running the ball as the exclusive play on offense, is that McElwain has worked extensively and successfully as a position coach for both quarterbacks and wide receivers. Much like the failures of Muschamp, the coaching success and all the great players Mac has put into the NFL are all very well known by now and don’t need repeating here. Instead I will focus on one of the most crucial talents he has displayed thus far as the Florida Gators head coach: hiring great assistants. It has been a mark of the greatest years in Florida history, from the first half of Spurrier’s tenure to the first regime of Meyer’s tenure. And it looks to be McElwain’s mark as well.

Advantage: New Staff.

Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks

Out: Kurt Roper

This is a comparison that rests not on what will be possible, but on what will be permitted. We all know about Roper’s impressive offensive success at Duke. And we all know that not a drop of it followed him to Florida. But he had no chance to succeed here. He only had one year to make diamonds out of a dung pile, and was hopelessly constrained by Muschamp’s oppressively imposed offensive philosophy of running down the score and letting the defense try to win the game. Hiring Kurt Roper to run Muschamp’s offense last year was akin to hiring the New York Philharmonic to welcome the Titanic to Pier 59 in Chelsea.

In: Doug Nussmeier

Nuss is a guy that McElwain knows very well. They worked closely when Nussmeier was the quarterbacks coach for three years at Michigan State while Mac was the receivers’ coach and assistant head coach. Nuss immediately followed Mac as offensive coordinator at Alabama, helping guide them to the third national title in four years between the two, setting program records for passing and rushing touchdowns, total scoring and total offense. Like McElwain, Nussmeier brings NFL quarterback coaching experience to the table, having coached Marc Bulger to an incredible 4,300-yard season with the Rams. Despite spending his first years as a quarterbacks coach and coaching them to four 3,000-yard passing seasons, Nuss has also produced six 1,000-yard rushers in seven years as an offensive coordinator. Whether you view Nussmeier’s tenure as replacing Roper, Brent Pease or simply the aggregate of coordinators under the iron fist of the offense-phobic Muschamp, this is a huge upgrade.

Advantage: New Staff.

 

Offensive Line

Retained: Mike Summers

The only member of Muschamp’s staff that was retained, and one of only two assistants that were even considered for retention, the status quo is a very good thing for the offensive line.

Advantage: Even.

Running Backs

Out: Brian White

For whatever empirical coaching knowledge and recruiting ties Brian White has, he is not the kind of personality who connected with high school prospects or his own players. He has been an assistant for a long time, bouncing around from position to position, school to school, trying to optimize his fit, but in the end he just isn’t a good fit for college coaching. To put his personality into perspective, he made Brent Pease seem like a normal guy. Just another one of Muschamp’s typical hires on the Island of Misfit Assistants. And other than one year of solid work from Mike Gillislee, he doesn’t have any other success stories in many years at Florida.

In: Tim Skipper

As successful as Jim McElwain has been in coaching offensive football, perhaps the most telling thing we can know about Tim Skipper is that Mac calls him the best running backs coach he has ever been around. He teaches the whole spectrum of running back responsibilities, not just how to tote the rock. Don’t expect our star running backs to be sitting out in big games anymore because they don’t know how to block, catch or to move without the ball. Skipper is also a rare coaching commodity in that he has been a very successful position coach on both sides of the ball. So he knows how to coach offense from a defensive minded perspective. Think of a good-hitting catcher knowing exactly how all the pitchers think when he is up to bat. When he was first hired, his extensive work coaching on the defensive side of the ball gave some fans reason for pause, wondering if Skipper could excite running backs enough to play for him. Well, after garnering the signatures of Jordan Scarlett and Jordan Cronkrite, and getting the commitments of Mark Thompson, Lamical Perine and Tyrek Tisdale, all in about six months on the job, I’d say fans are sufficiently convinced that great running backs are quite excited to play for Skipper.

Advantage: New Staff.

Wide Receivers Coach

 

Out: Chris Leak

Everyone loves former Florida Gators quarterback Chris Leak, but hiring him as a football coach was a bit like hiring Mister Peabody to be lead dog in the Iditarod. But this position turnover is not so much an outgoing coach as simply the termination of a terrible revolving door of stopgap measures, recruiting violators and sloppy hiring half-efforts by Muschamp to helm a position that he never cared about in the first place.

In: Kerry Dixon II

The new coach would need to do little more than show up for work on time to be an improvement over the previous six years combined. Turns out, he not only shows up on time, but he brings a short but successful coaching resume with a few school rushing records on it, and a deep recruiting connection in the Miami and south Florida region. That’ll do.

 

Advantage: New Staff.

Tight Ends/Special Teams Coordinator

 

Out: Derek Lewis & Coleman Hutzler

The tight ends were by far the worst unit in the program during Lewis’s four-year tenure, and quite possibly the worst unit collectively in the history of the program. The tight ends single-handedly lost at least two games last year. Aside from the occasional Andre Debose outbreak, special teams were subpar at best, and at worst were described in terms that are most often used by drunken sailors. All one needs to do is watch the end of the South Carolina game and pretty much every play on special teams in last season’s Missouri game to know that nobody in Gainesville will be mourning his loss.

In: Greg Nord

Nord is a guy who coached a national leader in scoring as a running backs coach, an NCAA all-time leader in receptions by a tight end, was named tight ends coach of the year and coached his punter into an All-SEC selection in his first year as special teams coordinator. Nord also has worked with both McElwain and Mike Summers for a few years at Louisville, bringing familiarity and great chemistry to the staff – something that has been completely absent from the program since at least the 2008 season.

Advantage: New Staff.

Defensive Coordinator

Out: DJ Durkin

Nobody was ever under any illusion that the Florida defense belonged to DJ Durkin. It was a Muschamp/Dan Quinn beast that was given to Durkin as coordinator in a figurehead capacity. It was Muschamp’s defense and he made the calls. During Durkin’s short two-year stretch at the helm of the Gator defense, it was not-so-secretly opined by players and people close to the program that Durkin, despite his new found…let’s call it swagger…was in over his head even as a coordinator who took direct orders from the head coach in a micromanagement capacity. The linebackers were a constant source of frustration with him as their position coach and the defense under his pseudo-command never resembled the 2012 unit in efficiency, cohesion or most of all leadership.

In: Geoff Collins

In Collins, the Gators get a lot more than a defensive coordinator. They get recruiting prowess (former recruiting coordinator at multiple schools) with south Florida connections (three years recruiting the area for FIU and UCF), recruiting roster management and evaluation (Director of Player Personnel at SEC powerhouse Alabama) and of course there’s the small matter of being a very successful defensive coordinator in the SEC. When you log the nation’s best red zone defense in the toughest conference and division in college football, like Collins did last year, you’ve done something. But he also got his defense to generate the second-most sacks in the league, something the Florida defense has had a terrible time doing for a long while. It speaks volumes that Dan Mullen was so upset to lose him that he went public with his Mullenesque snark. Florida got a good one, and with the talent Florida gets, a good one is what they need to dominate.

Advantage: New Staff.

Defensive Line

Out: Brad Lawing

Lawing is a very good defensive line coach and one who connects with recruits and players. As a coach and recruiter, he does not have many strikes against him. He does however carry with him the most baggage of any assistant coach to hand his hat in Gainesville in a long time. And simply put, his “unique personality” was never going to fit or be part of a Jim McElwain staff. Yet another in the veritable murderer’s row of difficult or just plain weird personalities Muschamp used to fill out his coaching staffs through the years.

In: Chris Rumph

With nine years coaching the defensive line at Clemson, Alabama and Texas, and two national championship rings on his fingers, Rumph is as close to coaching royalty as you can get in an assistant. He is an outstanding recruiter who relates really well to his players and recruiting prospects. And McElwain worked with him at Alabama, so he knows that he is a good fit for the culture and personalities of the new staff.

Advantage: New Staff.

 

Linebackers

Out: D. J. Durkin

Having already covered Durkin in other capacities, I’ll just focus on the linebacker coaching here. After the great season the 2012 linebackers had, the position has been a weakness at best and a lethal liability at worst. And with NFL-bound Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins taking care of business behind the line, it would have been difficult for anyone to look bad coaching that unit.

In: Randy Shannon

I don’t know how far back one would have to look to find a better position coach hire, but it would have to be many, many years. In Shannon, you get a former head coach at a former dynastic FBS program, one of the best defensive coordinators in recent college football history and one of the elite linebackers coaches in the country. Throw into the mix that he is an absolute ace recruiter with the deepest south Florida and specifically Miami-based recruiting clout in the game, and you have the perfect storm for this being a gold medal hire.

Advantage: New Staff.

Defensive Backs Coach

Out: Travaris Robinson

Robinson is regarded as a good coach, but nothing special. He has spent over two-thirds of his career following Will Muschamp around the football landscape, however after working with Muschamp at Auburn for his two years as a staff assistant and GA, Muschamp did not think highly enough of him to take him with him to Texas to be on his defensive staff when the Longhorns hired him as defensive coordinator and head coach in waiting. After working with success as CB or DB coach at three different schools in three years, he was able to use his resume and his south Florida recruiting connections to convince Muschamp to hire him on as DBs coach at Florida. However this year at Auburn will be Robinson’s eighth-straight year – and fifth-straight year with Muschamp – without a promotion beyond position coach. While his south Florida recruiting connections are revered, it is generally believed that the success of his secondaries at Florida was the work of Muschamp rather than Robinson.

In: Kirk Callahan

Cal’s hiring is somewhat of a homecoming in that he worked on both the Meyer and Muschamp staffs as an intern and GA before going to Central Florida for three years as DBs coach. Whether it was because of Muschamp or Robinson, the success of the secondary at Florida during T-Rob’s tenure was not particularly novel. Florida has been consistently producing among the best defensive backfields in the country since the early eighties. Success at UCF, however is a big accomplishment. Mid-major programs do not get a lot of elite athletes, and they generally put them at offensive skill positions; getting All-American efforts out of the secondary is an elite coaching job at any mid-major. Last year Callahan produced the school’s first ever FBS defensive All-American at ANY position in cornerback Jacoby Glenn, who also garnered conference Defensive Player of the Year recognition. Glenn was Cal’s second conference DPOY in three years at UCF, joining current Atlanta Falcons safety Kemal Ishmael. Cal also coached up A.J. Bouye into a contract with the Houston Texans. Again, sending defensive backs to the NFL from Florida is old hat; producing them at UCF is an accomplishment worth noticing. And Jim McElwain noticed. Though UF loses the Miami recruiting connections of Robinson, they replaced them with interest with other staff members; Callahan brings deep recruiting ties to the fertile Tampa area as a graduate of powerhouse Seffner Armwood.

Advantage: New Staff.

Director of Strength & Conditioning

Out: Jeff Dillman

Weightlifting shape.

In: Mike Kent

Football shape.

Advantage: New Staff. 

David Parker

About David Parker

One of the original columnists when Gator Country first premiered, David “PD” Parker has been following and writing about the Gators since the eighties. From his years of regular contributions as a member of Gator Country to his weekly columns as a partner of the popular defunct niche website Gator Gurus, PD has become known in Gator Nation for his analysis, insight and humor on all things Gator.

  1. gatorbogeyAugust 19, 2015, 3:56 pm

    Is Mac one of those coaches that will have the qb’s list their favorite plays? and craft the gameday ‘script’ around the strengths of the qb’s/players?

    • Andrew Spivey
      Andrew SpiveyAugust 19, 2015, 5:22 pm

      Most all of the coaches script the first drive of the game and Mac and Nuss will do that.

  2. dpritchardAugust 20, 2015, 9:05 am

    So let’s get this straight, advantage = new staff? Too funny!
    I think some of these are off base. Callahan better than T-Rob? Also, remember Durkin was hired by Meyer, who he pulled away from Harbaugh. White was also retained from the Meyer’s staff, although you’re correct, I never seen anything great from White in his entire tenure at UF.
    I think you’re a little hard on Durkin and T-Rob for sure.

  3. chfergAugust 20, 2015, 9:26 am

    I could never take anything David Parker writes seriously…

    If I recall, he had his head so far up muschamp’s A** last year it wasn’t even funny. Taking time out of his “busy” day to argue with us posters and calling us all bad fans and that type of nonsense.

    Yeah PD, no one forgot…you were a jack*** to us people on the forums and now you are trying to backtrack on how you felt last year.

    Get real.

http://www.gatorcountry.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/04-11-2015_2_Florida-Gators-Florida-Football-Gator-Walk-April-11th-2015-Ben-Hill-Griffin-Stadium-150x150.jpg David Parker FeatureFootball ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
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Winning the Offseason: The New Staff

A new coach is hired to win. Win on the field. Winning moral victories off the field is necessary, but those victories are worthless when they are not backed up with wins on the field. Florida Gator fans have had to face that reality longer than they care to recall. But before a new coach can win on the field, he must put himself in position to do so by winning his first offseason. So before we start the 2015 season and get into the real meat of what this thing we call being Gator is all about, let’s take a look at how new Head Gator Jim McElwain has gone about winning the offseason. I’ll break it into four different segments. First up: winning the hiring game.

Head Coach

Out: Will Muschamp

There’s really no need to address this comparison other than to say that Muschamp was fired for a good reason. Many good reasons. The longer McElwain is on the job, the more and deeper those reasons become apparent. He was a guy who may have developed into a good head coach – and still might later in his career – but at this juncture he needed a LOT of luck and a LOT of things to go his way to make up for his weaknesses and buy him time enough to learn on the job. In the end, his biggest weakness ultimately was the biggest reason he was fired: Muschamp is a terrible judge of coaching talent. And it showed. From the initial disaster of hiring Charlie Weis as offensive coordinator to replacing one of his few good hires – Dan Quinn – with DJ Durkin as defensive coordinator for his last two seasons. Bottom line, he came in as an unproven commodity with no head coaching experience, and he came in and proved beyond a doubt that he could not get the job done.

In: Jim McElwain

Unlike the hiring of a career assistant like his predecessor, McElwain mixed great buzz and promise with an actual head coaching resume. An impressive one at that. And most importantly to Florida fans, a resume of winning big with a high-scoring OFFENSE. Mac not only proved himself as an outstanding offensive coordinator while helping guide Alabama to two national titles, but demonstrated that he was an outstanding offensive-minded head coach by turning mid-major Colorado State into a big winner in just three years. Another facet of Mac’s acumen that will warm the cockles of Gator hearts which grew weary of the last coach’s obsession with running the ball as the exclusive play on offense, is that McElwain has worked extensively and successfully as a position coach for both quarterbacks and wide receivers. Much like the failures of Muschamp, the coaching success and all the great players Mac has put into the NFL are all very well known by now and don’t need repeating here. Instead I will focus on one of the most crucial talents he has displayed thus far as the Florida Gators head coach: hiring great assistants. It has been a mark of the greatest years in Florida history, from the first half of Spurrier’s tenure to the first regime of Meyer’s tenure. And it looks to be McElwain’s mark as well.

Advantage: New Staff.

Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks

Out: Kurt Roper

This is a comparison that rests not on what will be possible, but on what will be permitted. We all know about Roper’s impressive offensive success at Duke. And we all know that not a drop of it followed him to Florida. But he had no chance to succeed here. He only had one year to make diamonds out of a dung pile, and was hopelessly constrained by Muschamp’s oppressively imposed offensive philosophy of running down the score and letting the defense try to win the game. Hiring Kurt Roper to run Muschamp’s offense last year was akin to hiring the New York Philharmonic to welcome the Titanic to Pier 59 in Chelsea.

In: Doug Nussmeier

Nuss is a guy that McElwain knows very well. They worked closely when Nussmeier was the quarterbacks coach for three years at Michigan State while Mac was the receivers’ coach and assistant head coach. Nuss immediately followed Mac as offensive coordinator at Alabama, helping guide them to the third national title in four years between the two, setting program records for passing and rushing touchdowns, total scoring and total offense. Like McElwain, Nussmeier brings NFL quarterback coaching experience to the table, having coached Marc Bulger to an incredible 4,300-yard season with the Rams. Despite spending his first years as a quarterbacks coach and coaching them to four 3,000-yard passing seasons, Nuss has also produced six 1,000-yard rushers in seven years as an offensive coordinator. Whether you view Nussmeier’s tenure as replacing Roper, Brent Pease or simply the aggregate of coordinators under the iron fist of the offense-phobic Muschamp, this is a huge upgrade.

Advantage: New Staff.

 

Offensive Line

Retained: Mike Summers

The only member of Muschamp’s staff that was retained, and one of only two assistants that were even considered for retention, the status quo is a very good thing for the offensive line.

Advantage: Even.

Running Backs

Out: Brian White

For whatever empirical coaching knowledge and recruiting ties Brian White has, he is not the kind of personality who connected with high school prospects or his own players. He has been an assistant for a long time, bouncing around from position to position, school to school, trying to optimize his fit, but in the end he just isn’t a good fit for college coaching. To put his personality into perspective, he made Brent Pease seem like a normal guy. Just another one of Muschamp’s typical hires on the Island of Misfit Assistants. And other than one year of solid work from Mike Gillislee, he doesn’t have any other success stories in many years at Florida.

In: Tim Skipper

As successful as Jim McElwain has been in coaching offensive football, perhaps the most telling thing we can know about Tim Skipper is that Mac calls him the best running backs coach he has ever been around. He teaches the whole spectrum of running back responsibilities, not just how to tote the rock. Don’t expect our star running backs to be sitting out in big games anymore because they don’t know how to block, catch or to move without the ball. Skipper is also a rare coaching commodity in that he has been a very successful position coach on both sides of the ball. So he knows how to coach offense from a defensive minded perspective. Think of a good-hitting catcher knowing exactly how all the pitchers think when he is up to bat. When he was first hired, his extensive work coaching on the defensive side of the ball gave some fans reason for pause, wondering if Skipper could excite running backs enough to play for him. Well, after garnering the signatures of Jordan Scarlett and Jordan Cronkrite, and getting the commitments of Mark Thompson, Lamical Perine and Tyrek Tisdale, all in about six months on the job, I’d say fans are sufficiently convinced that great running backs are quite excited to play for Skipper.

Advantage: New Staff.

Wide Receivers Coach

 

Out: Chris Leak

Everyone loves former Florida Gators quarterback Chris Leak, but hiring him as a football coach was a bit like hiring Mister Peabody to be lead dog in the Iditarod. But this position turnover is not so much an outgoing coach as simply the termination of a terrible revolving door of stopgap measures, recruiting violators and sloppy hiring half-efforts by Muschamp to helm a position that he never cared about in the first place.

In: Kerry Dixon II

The new coach would need to do little more than show up for work on time to be an improvement over the previous six years combined. Turns out, he not only shows up on time, but he brings a short but successful coaching resume with a few school rushing records on it, and a deep recruiting connection in the Miami and south Florida region. That’ll do.

 

Advantage: New Staff.

Tight Ends/Special Teams Coordinator

 

Out: Derek Lewis & Coleman Hutzler

The tight ends were by far the worst unit in the program during Lewis’s four-year tenure, and quite possibly the worst unit collectively in the history of the program. The tight ends single-handedly lost at least two games last year. Aside from the occasional Andre Debose outbreak, special teams were subpar at best, and at worst were described in terms that are most often used by drunken sailors. All one needs to do is watch the end of the South Carolina game and pretty much every play on special teams in last season’s Missouri game to know that nobody in Gainesville will be mourning his loss.

In: Greg Nord

Nord is a guy who coached a national leader in scoring as a running backs coach, an NCAA all-time leader in receptions by a tight end, was named tight ends coach of the year and coached his punter into an All-SEC selection in his first year as special teams coordinator. Nord also has worked with both McElwain and Mike Summers for a few years at Louisville, bringing familiarity and great chemistry to the staff – something that has been completely absent from the program since at least the 2008 season.

Advantage: New Staff.

Defensive Coordinator

Out: DJ Durkin

Nobody was ever under any illusion that the Florida defense belonged to DJ Durkin. It was a Muschamp/Dan Quinn beast that was given to Durkin as coordinator in a figurehead capacity. It was Muschamp’s defense and he made the calls. During Durkin’s short two-year stretch at the helm of the Gator defense, it was not-so-secretly opined by players and people close to the program that Durkin, despite his new found…let’s call it swagger…was in over his head even as a coordinator who took direct orders from the head coach in a micromanagement capacity. The linebackers were a constant source of frustration with him as their position coach and the defense under his pseudo-command never resembled the 2012 unit in efficiency, cohesion or most of all leadership.

In: Geoff Collins

In Collins, the Gators get a lot more than a defensive coordinator. They get recruiting prowess (former recruiting coordinator at multiple schools) with south Florida connections (three years recruiting the area for FIU and UCF), recruiting roster management and evaluation (Director of Player Personnel at SEC powerhouse Alabama) and of course there’s the small matter of being a very successful defensive coordinator in the SEC. When you log the nation’s best red zone defense in the toughest conference and division in college football, like Collins did last year, you’ve done something. But he also got his defense to generate the second-most sacks in the league, something the Florida defense has had a terrible time doing for a long while. It speaks volumes that Dan Mullen was so upset to lose him that he went public with his Mullenesque snark. Florida got a good one, and with the talent Florida gets, a good one is what they need to dominate.

Advantage: New Staff.

Defensive Line

Out: Brad Lawing

Lawing is a very good defensive line coach and one who connects with recruits and players. As a coach and recruiter, he does not have many strikes against him. He does however carry with him the most baggage of any assistant coach to hand his hat in Gainesville in a long time. And simply put, his “unique personality” was never going to fit or be part of a Jim McElwain staff. Yet another in the veritable murderer’s row of difficult or just plain weird personalities Muschamp used to fill out his coaching staffs through the years.

In: Chris Rumph

With nine years coaching the defensive line at Clemson, Alabama and Texas, and two national championship rings on his fingers, Rumph is as close to coaching royalty as you can get in an assistant. He is an outstanding recruiter who relates really well to his players and recruiting prospects. And McElwain worked with him at Alabama, so he knows that he is a good fit for the culture and personalities of the new staff.

Advantage: New Staff.

 

Linebackers

Out: D. J. Durkin

Having already covered Durkin in other capacities, I’ll just focus on the linebacker coaching here. After the great season the 2012 linebackers had, the position has been a weakness at best and a lethal liability at worst. And with NFL-bound Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins taking care of business behind the line, it would have been difficult for anyone to look bad coaching that unit.

In: Randy Shannon

I don’t know how far back one would have to look to find a better position coach hire, but it would have to be many, many years. In Shannon, you get a former head coach at a former dynastic FBS program, one of the best defensive coordinators in recent college football history and one of the elite linebackers coaches in the country. Throw into the mix that he is an absolute ace recruiter with the deepest south Florida and specifically Miami-based recruiting clout in the game, and you have the perfect storm for this being a gold medal hire.

Advantage: New Staff.

Defensive Backs Coach

Out: Travaris Robinson

Robinson is regarded as a good coach, but nothing special. He has spent over two-thirds of his career following Will Muschamp around the football landscape, however after working with Muschamp at Auburn for his two years as a staff assistant and GA, Muschamp did not think highly enough of him to take him with him to Texas to be on his defensive staff when the Longhorns hired him as defensive coordinator and head coach in waiting. After working with success as CB or DB coach at three different schools in three years, he was able to use his resume and his south Florida recruiting connections to convince Muschamp to hire him on as DBs coach at Florida. However this year at Auburn will be Robinson’s eighth-straight year – and fifth-straight year with Muschamp – without a promotion beyond position coach. While his south Florida recruiting connections are revered, it is generally believed that the success of his secondaries at Florida was the work of Muschamp rather than Robinson.

In: Kirk Callahan

Cal’s hiring is somewhat of a homecoming in that he worked on both the Meyer and Muschamp staffs as an intern and GA before going to Central Florida for three years as DBs coach. Whether it was because of Muschamp or Robinson, the success of the secondary at Florida during T-Rob’s tenure was not particularly novel. Florida has been consistently producing among the best defensive backfields in the country since the early eighties. Success at UCF, however is a big accomplishment. Mid-major programs do not get a lot of elite athletes, and they generally put them at offensive skill positions; getting All-American efforts out of the secondary is an elite coaching job at any mid-major. Last year Callahan produced the school’s first ever FBS defensive All-American at ANY position in cornerback Jacoby Glenn, who also garnered conference Defensive Player of the Year recognition. Glenn was Cal’s second conference DPOY in three years at UCF, joining current Atlanta Falcons safety Kemal Ishmael. Cal also coached up A.J. Bouye into a contract with the Houston Texans. Again, sending defensive backs to the NFL from Florida is old hat; producing them at UCF is an accomplishment worth noticing. And Jim McElwain noticed. Though UF loses the Miami recruiting connections of Robinson, they replaced them with interest with other staff members; Callahan brings deep recruiting ties to the fertile Tampa area as a graduate of powerhouse Seffner Armwood.

Advantage: New Staff.

Director of Strength & Conditioning

Out: Jeff Dillman

Weightlifting shape.

In: Mike Kent

Football shape.

Advantage: New Staff. 

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